Happy May!?

Happy May!?

Today's news: The Reader's Ben Joravsky finds out how and why eight Lincoln teachers had their job offers rescinded.  WBEZ tracks the impacts of one school's closing. Charter approvals (the Turks!) and slowdowns (UNO!).  Brooks-Payton is over (sort of).   Cafeteria workers want unfrozen food.  The Atlantic details the new evaluation system's effects on teachers and principals.


One Chicago school closing sets off domino effect WBEZ: On paper, the closure of Fermi Elementary looks pretty straightforward. Fermi and South Shore Fine Arts Academy share a building, so it’s pretty simple. Except it’s not.
In the Chicago Public Schools, promises are made to be broken Reader: According to Becky Carroll, the chief CPS spokeswoman, principals at schools undergoing a change in "academic focus" are allowed "to select teachers from among qualified applicants."... "We deeply regret that the go-ahead was given" prematurely, Carroll says. But she notes that of the 128 job offers made at Lincoln Park, "only eight were rescinded."
Closings point up the dangers of geography Catalyst: In Englewood and West Englewood alone, six schools--John P. Altgeld Elementary School, Elaine O. Goodlow Elementary School, Arna Wendell Bontemps Elementary School, Elihu Yale Elementary School, Granville T. Woods Elementary School and Benjamin Banneker Elementary School--will close, meaning many students will have to travel across unfamiliar turf next year.
CPS Has Not Visited King to Verify Reason for Closure, Principal Says DNAI: He said no one has come to West Side school to check on how it uses space CPS claims is underutilized.
Charter School Founded by Turkish Americans Clears Zoning Hurdle: A lready in seven states, the group survived a 7-3 zoning board vote and aims to open in McKinley Park

Science charter school gets zoning approval after heated debate  Chicago Sun-Times: Sources said Emanuel was concerned about the political timing of opening new charters at the same time that the Chicago Public Schools is closing 53 elementary schools and one high school program. Fioretti seemed to agree.

Work is stopped on UNO high school after state halts funding Sun Times: Construction was halted Tuesday on a new, state-funded charter high school being built on the Southwest Side for the state’s largest charter-school operator, the politically influential United Neighborhood Organization, after the project’s general contractor said UNO has fallen behind in its payments for the work. The move came five days after Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration suspended funding to UNO following Chicago Sun-Times reports on insider deals.


Brooks-Payton game on, but rescheduled again Tribune: The baseball game between Walter Payton College Preparatory High School and Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy was rescheduled again, this time for May 11.

Payton coach returns to the dugout after controversial cancellation of baseball game Sun TImes: The coach of Payton College Prep’s baseball team remained in his post Tuesday night while school officials tried to sort out a controversial situation that arose this week when the North Side coach said he was forced to cancel a game on the South Side because parents feared for their children’s safety.


CPS lunchroom workers call for end to frozen meals Tribune: Dozens of Chicago Public Schools food service workers rallied Tuesday afternoon to call for an end to quickly prepared frozen meals that can be readied in smaller kitchens by fewer workers. Linda Green, a CPS manager of several South Side lunchrooms,...

Will New Teacher Evaluations Help or Hurt Chicago's Schools? The Atlantic: The new evaluation system, designed to keep administrators and teachers focused on instruction, is unrolling amid a historic--and historically distracting--year in the nation's third-largest school district.


Filed under: Daily News Roundup


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  • 400 teachers at UNO charter schools vote to unionize - Chicago Sun-Times http://ow.ly/kC6ta

  • Saw this at CPSObsessed blog:

    1489. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins) | May 1, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    @ 1459. MayfairMama: ” It seems silly to me that CPS has decided to eliminate the MAP test for 1st graders. That’s the only test they take!”

    No it is not. Not by a long shot. There are five kinds of standardized assessments for K-2. Four are given as many as three times per year, and one twice per year. There are also two subject tests at each of these three sittings for some. For ELLs, there is an additional assessment.

    See http://cps.edu/Performance/Documents/SY13PreK-2TrackRAssessmentCalendar.pdf

    Some are marked as “optional” but the network chiefs require that the schools in their network administer all of them. Only a few principals have the power or courage to say no when this happens.

    Schools that use the Fountas & Pinnel reading curriculum still must administer the Dibels/TRC or mClass 3D even though the test is redundant. The Dibels takes 5 minutes per student, one on one. In a room of 30 students, which many teachers have, that means 2.5 hours of nothing but Dibels testing, not including transition times and having to restart due to interruptions. That’s half a day of non-instruction for class.

    This is why “More than a Score” was formed. CPS’s director of assessment met with us, and reported that 17 focus groups done by her office with parents, teachers, principals, and students came away with consensus that students are over-tested, that instruction is being supplanted by test prep and admin., and that students are stressed by the testing.

    In the case of the MPG (MAP for Primary Grades), the results have been inconsistent with other tests. Teachers at our school, reading over the students shoulders, found many of the questions misleading and having incorrect answers as “correct”.

  • This guy (?) is so smart. More from CPSObessed:

    487. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins) | May 1, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    @1457. Angie: “For me, it’s a trust issue. If every teacher in every classroom could be trusted to do their job day after day to the best of their ability, we wouldn’t need so many tests.”

    But the tests don’t enable you to trust your child’s teacher or even verify the quality of instruction. First, we don’t get the range, median, and mean score for each class. We don’t even get that data for the school or the district. So we have no way of establishing the qualifications of the teacher. Second, if we did get such data, and a child was at the low end of the range, does this show that the teacher is doing poorly or that the child is doing poorly? What you will find is a range of performance across a classroom. If 10 children in a classroom score in the 20-30th national percentile and ten score in the 80-90th national percentile, what does that tell you about the teacher? Do we focus on the ten who did not do well or the ten who did do well?

    Third, what if the test data seem off to you? Your child is doing well, reading books beyond his or her age group at home, doing mathematics without difficulty, but the MAP spews out a lower Lexile score than earlier in the year, and puts your child in the 71st percentile (not bad, but he’s getting As in his class and most of his peers are not). What if the TRC/Dibels results put the benchmark below what the MAP spits out? The MAP is a “secure” test so even after it is administered to all CPS students, neither teachers nor parents are allowed to see the questions and the answers for a child. We are expected to trust the vendor, who has never submitted the test to independent peer reviews.

    Fourth, because there are no controls on student scores for time spent studying, parental involvement, parents’ education, household wealth, and other factors, even the descriptive statistics would not allow us to draw valid inferences from the test data. Value-added methods have yielded some findings when applied to large groups of teachers but they have not yielded reliable findings at the level of individual teacher.

  • i'll have more later, but i'm told that former CPS principal and central office guy Phil Hansen has passed away after a recent illness. condolences to the family and all those who knew and worked with him.

  • I just went thru the pre-conference w/ my AP and I just read the Atlantic article. It seems purposefully dysfunctional on the part of our employer to have different "test success" expectations for both teachers (30%) and principals (50%). The word load seems exhausting, especially if you're in an elem school with 20+ PATs and only two evaluators.
    I also am not surprised at the assertion that the new system really does nothing to "weed out" the ineffective. Sure it shifts the bell curve left, but I don't see any more objective measures of a teacher's inadequacy coming out of this checklist than the previous. I'm thankful to be tenured - what a horrible year to be a rookie. What about a CTU slate and administrators coming together to bring some objective measures back to this process? We can start with unannounced observations, more consequences for missing grades or paperwork, and yes, introducing some honor roll student feedback as a measurement. I can't swallow Ms. Rhee looking at test scores and telling the principal on tape, "you're fired". But I can handle
    "I came to your class three times this year. One time your lesson plans weren't posted or completed and once there was a sub and she had very minimal plans - a one paragraph email. Also, grades are not entered in your online grade book at least once weekly. The third visit you had your plans but your lesson was not adequately engaging to the students. Students were off task and you did not have them spend any time working alone or in groups. That's it. Goodbye."

  • In reply to cklaus76:

    The don't believe the purpose of the testing is to weed out the weak performers. It to modify behaviors towards the academic goals of the districts managers.The tests will definitely modify teacher and principal behavior. If they're testing the right things it will modify the behavior towards goals that benefit students.
    Nationally it doen't appear that these new teacher evaluation systems have been misused. The percentage of teachers rated unsatisfactory is small. If leadership here is wise they won't "beat teachers over the head" with a new, imprecise and not well understood system.

  • In reply to cklaus76:

    "some honor roll student feedback as a measurement"

    Well, if you're on the honor role, the system is working for you. If not...

  • honor roll,

  • Obama lied through his teeth today when he said Penny Pritzker had integrity. "Hope and Change" is a joke. The president is just another tool of the plutocrats.


  • The coverage of Prizker reminds me of the coverage of Duncan when he moved to US DOE. I'm not sure insipid is the correct word. Deluded? Ignorant? I don't know.

  • Pritzker needs the t

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