Comparing Turnaround Coverage

Let’s take a look at what the mainstream outlets did with all that extra time CPS gave them to write their stories about the turnaround process to come:

As you’ll see, they rehashed a lot of things that CPS told them in a press release and phone briefing. They created graphics (the Tribune’s is better because it includes visual information about how the schools rate as well as where they’re located). CPS didn’t give reporters a chance to report over the weekend, which would likely have generated deeper coverage.  But it isn’t all bad.

The Sun Times (Biggest turnaround  push in CPS history) notes that the announcement doesn’t include closings, which will come today or tomorrows.

The Tribune (CPS proposes a record 10 school turnaround projects next year) notes that the list includes higher-performing schools like Casals that are selected because they’re not up to par with their peers rather than CPS overall and that the district will spend $20M on the effort and reap unknown cost savings from lower salaires from replacement teachers who are often younger.

Chicago Public Radio (CPS names a record 10 schools for turnaround) notes that Tilden also isn’t a super low performer when it comes to pass rates, raises the issue of the measures CPS uses to chart turnaround progress, and gets some anonymous reaction quotes from a handful of schools. Free from space or time constraints,

CNC (CPS Unveils School Turnaround Targets) puts the announcement in context, noting the overall number of turnarounds over time (50) and that at least one of the listed schools (Tilden) already got a federal SIG grant (which sort of makes Tilden not count, IMHO).  The story also asks the question whether CPS followed its own guidelines.

Last but not least, Catalyst (CPS leaders propose record-number of turnarounds) notes that Marquette is among the first schools slated for turnaround with large Hispanic populations, and highlights the strange use of ISAT scores for determining and defending turnaround picks when the district ignores those numbers in its new report cards on schools.

What does all that time and legwork leave out?  No one seems to have found out how many more schools will be listed for closure — just as important if not more so than the turnaround list. No one seems to have checked the main claim that this is the largest turnaround effort for CPS ever.

But maybe I’m missing something — which story did you think got it best, and why?


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  • here's a substance article that covers the turnaround process§ion=Article

  • How about "crowd-sourcing" the Closing and Consolidation list?

  • I would be curious to know the story behind Casals. Some of their scores have increased, others show a modest downturn. Their composites have been trending upward since 2001, and they have higher scores than other schools that are not scheduled for turnaround.

  • Good question about Casals…other schools are doing worse…doesn't seem quite 'data' driven

    Does anyone have a list of all the past "turnarounds"? And how successful have they been at 'turning around'. Were they 180˚s or 360˚s. I hear they are more like 360˚.

    And how about the receiving schools? What happens to them when they take 5800 abandoned kids? I hear that they become overcrowded and quite violent.

    I remember numerous calls from principals, teachers and parents of the 'receiving' schools when Arne Dumkin took questions on WBBM, all with the same complaints - that CPS dumped the kids, offered little or no support, that classrooms were overcrowded, that fights were breaking out throughout the day, particularly in the upper grades…Arne would usually tell the caller that 'we'll be looking into that' and 'we're doing everything we can to provide…bla yap yap yap…"

  • So, here's part of the Casals story. They said in the TRib that the reason it is on the list is NOT its scores, but actually that they have not kept up with neighboring schools. THAT IS A LIE ! WHoever gave Brizard that data is incompetent. A quick check on the Sun Times 2011 report card database shows that Casals is AT PAR with the following nearby schools : Cameron, Nobel, Funston, Stowe, LaFayette, VonHumboldt and West Park. The only nearby school that outscored them was Lowell ( 68% to Casals' 62%).
    Here's my conspiracy theory : Casals is a 22 year old building, fairly new, fairly good condition. I think it's being given over to AUSL for no good reason. Certainly not because of scores, not because it's worse than its neighboring schools. But they have underestimated this staff and its resources , and Casals' teachers and parents will not go down easily.

  • In reply to 30-Yr. Vet:

    And if Woodson is on the list, why not Doolittle? Overall Performance at Doolittle is 43.5. Overall performance at Woodson is 50.1; clearly, Woodson is performing better than Doolittle, but Woodson has a nicer building, just like Casals. This has nothing to do with helping kids - it's about cheap labor and real-estate deals.

    I'm no apologist for Brizard… Nobody gave him the wrong data about these schools….Brizard knows exactly what he is doing - intentionally misleading the public.

  • One more thing. THe media is doing a lousy job on this story. WGN News introduced their segment on turnarounds with Micah saying that it was about the "worst schools in the system". NO mention of Casals ranking better than 141 other elementary schools in the SunTimes rankings. NO mention of all the schools that are at 62% or far worse. The only thing I was glad about is that they didn't even mention any schools by name ! With that kind of reporting, it's better that way !

  • The claims about Casals achieving below neighboring schools just isn't true. Using the "Compare Schools" function on I was able to compare ISAT scores for Casals and the closest 16 neighboring schools. For virtually every test score Casals appears to be in the middle of the pack. Take a look at 8th Grade scores as an example:

    This is strange. The reasons given by CPS for closing Casals are patently false. I have no idea how they are going to spin this one.

  • Not much spin will be needed - remember when Rahm said that the seven best performing high schools were all charters? when in fact, absolutely none of the best-performing high schools were charters? Many Chicagoans still believe it, and that's all it takes

  • here's a new post about casals with some links and updates -- does anyone know anyone at the school? what's the reaction been there? what's going on behind the scenes?

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