Crowd-Sourcing The Turnaround List

Updated:  See the full list and press release from CPS below.

Nothing official is out yet but I’m told that some individual schools are starting to be told if they’re on the list for closure or turnaround next year.  For example, I hear from a reliable source that Marquette ES teachers have been told they’ll have to re-apply for their jobs.  I’ll try and find out if that’s confirmed.  (Again, nothing’s official until it’s official, and even then there will be some additions and subtractions from the list before it’s all said and done.) Meanwhile, let’s see if we can crowd-source the list before it’s officially announced. Instructions for how to comment anonymously are at the top of the page.



5,800 Students in Chronically Low Performing Schools to Get Access to Higher Quality School Options through Proposed “Turnarounds” Next School Year

Record number 10 Turnaround schools proposed for next school year, including six with Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), whose ISAT student performance growth more than doubled district-average last school year

CHICAGO—Chicago Public Schools officials today proposed to turnaround 10 underperforming schools to provide 5,800 students with access to higher quality school options starting next school year. These are the first in a series of school actions the district is proposing to ensure that students in some of the city’s worst-performing schools receive the resources and instruction they need to graduate college and career ready and turn the tide on growing achievement gaps and drop out rates.

“Our students are falling farther and farther behind every year. We can no longer accept or defend schools that have failed our students year after year, which is why we are making tough choices today to ensure they can succeed tomorrow,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard.“Every student deserves a high quality education that prepares them for life, that graduates them ready for college and that puts them on a path toward career success. It is our responsibility to do everything we can to give our students those opportunities and the turnaround schools have a track record of success in boosting student achievement.”

Turnarounds change under-performing CPS schools by completely overhauling them without moving students to another school. Turnarounds build successful students because of two critical investments: a top-to-bottom school transformation and teacher training that prepares them to tackle to challenges of growing student achievement within low-performing schools. Students return in the fall to a school that is re-built around an entirely new culture of success. The results from five years of turnarounds are compelling, and support that a fresh start, with a new staff and culture of high expectations will lead to dramatically improved student outcomes.

The Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) will turnaround six CPS schools, which represents the largest number of turnarounds it has taken on in a single year. AUSL has a strong overall track record of increasing student academic achievement within its 12 turnaround schools. In 2011, student growth in ISAT composite scores at AUSL elementary schools (8%) was more than double the district in average growth (3.8%). Among the AUSL successes is Morton School of Excellence, which achieved a 33 percentage point increase in students meeting or exceeding state standards on the ISAT since becoming a turnaround in 2008. In addition, Howe Elementary saw a 25.5 percentage point increase between 2010 and 2011, and 74.6 percent of students now meet or exceed state standards on the ISAT.

The key to AUSL success is its teacher training academies, which provide a full year of preparation for many of the teachers who provide the foundation for each turnaround. Last summer, Mayor Emanuel announced that CPS would double its investment in AUSL-trained teachers by increasing the number of AUSL teacher training academies from 7 to 14 over the next two years. This investment will add 200 teachers to help turnaround additional schools that are among the lowest-performing in the district.

The remaining four schools will be under the direction of the CPS Office of School Improvement (OSI), which will make significant investments in teacher training, professional development and student academic supports to ensure students receive the time and resources they need to succeed. OSI elementary school turnarounds also showed academic growth at nearly twice the district average for composite ISAT scores, jumping 6.3 percentage points compared to the district’s gains of 3.8 percentage points.


Across the district, CPS students are facing significant challenges. More than 123,000 students attend underperforming schools, which represents nearly one-third of all seats in CPS. In 2011 only 7.9 percent of all 11th graders tested college ready, and more than half of all schools are on academic probation.

“As adults, we all have a responsibility to put the academic needs of our students first before all else. We can no longer accept a status quo that allows our students to go unprepared for college and career for years on end. This is not just what we believe to be true among the new leadership team at CPS, but this is what I have heard from the community time and time again.” said Brizard.

Over the last six months, Brizard has met dozens of key stakeholders, including parents, community groups, teachers, principals, students, elected officials and faith leaders. Throughout these dialogues, stakeholders have been consistent in their message that CPS is not meeting the needs of all its students. These conversations have helped drive CPS’ determination to move quickly to improve school quality throughout the district this year, especially among its lowest performing schools.                                                                                                                   

The turnaround strategy at CPS began in 2006 with the conversion of Sherman Elementary School by the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL). In all, 12 CPS schools are currently being turned around by AUSL and 5 schools are in turnarounds led by the CPS Office of School Improvement.

AUSL would be designated to implement the turnaround strategy at six of the proposed schools serving nearly 3,200 students:

  • Pablo Casals Elementary School, 3501 W. Potomac Avenue, which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.
  • Melville W. Fuller Elementary School, 4214 S. Saint Lawrence Avenue, which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.
  • Theodore Herzl Elementary School, 3711 W. Douglas Blvd., which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.
  • Marquette Elementary School, 6550 S Richmond St., which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.
  • Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School, 1040 N Keeler Ave., which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.
  • Amos Alonzo Stagg Elementary School, 7424 S Morgan St., which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.

CPS Office of School Improvement would implement the turnaround strategy at four other schools serving 2,650 students including:

  • Chicago Vocational Career Academy (CVCA) High School, 2100 E 87th St., which has been on academic probation for10 consecutive years.
  • Edward Tilden Career Community Academy High School, 4747 S Union Ave., which has been on academic probation for 8 consecutive years.
  • Wendell Smith Elementary School, 744 E 103rd St., which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.
  • Carter G. Woodson South Elementary School, 4414 S Evans, which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.

CPS will provide $6 million in funding for one-time transition costs at all ten OSI and AUSL turnaround schools. These 10 schools will also receive $14 million for per pupil funding that can be used to invest in coaching, tutoring, after-school programs and additional resources to drive student achievement, fund summertime professional development for new staff and resources to plan the new culture and curriculum of the school and the hiring of an additional assistant principal for one year.

In addition to bringing in new leadership and teaching staff, CPS will make significant investments in turnaround schools to help create an effective learning environment focused on the academic success of all students. Supports provided through the turnaround models include:

•     Intervention and tutoring services for students who need extra support in reading and math.

•    Academic after school programs to give students access to additional instruction time and further accelerate student achievement.

•    High-quality instruction including Common Core State Standards to ensure rigorous instructional program that gives students knowledge and skills needed to be ready for college and career.

•    Teacher collaboration across subjects to maximize student learning and ensure students are not falling behind in any area

•     Extensive extracurricular enhancements including fine arts and athletics to facilitate more well-rounded learning

•       In-house training for aspiring teachers that gives teachers strategies and tools needed to address diverse needs of students in transitioning schools

•     Systems to increase student attendance, decrease serious misconducts and increase student satisfaction

•     Advanced data systems and testing aligned with rigorous academic standards to help staff identify struggling students early and give them the help they need to get back on track.

•     Relentless efforts to recruit, retain, and motivate high-quality staff

•     Provide evidence-based social-emotional programming

•     Full time social worker to provide one on one counseling

There will also be significant opportunity for the parents and the public to provide feedback on every proposed turnaround, including a formal public hearing. CPS will evaluate the testimony presented and carefully consider the issues raised during these meetings prior to presenting final recommendations to the Chicago Board of Education for a vote. In addition, parents and stakeholders can provide feedback through the CPS website, emails and by attending Board of Education meetings in December, January and February.

Detailed letters will be delivered to every member of the school staff and every parent/guardian including all specifics about the proposal, the public hearing, and the new educational options available to students. CPS staff will be available to answer parent questions at the school as well as through the CPS Quality Schools Hotline at 773-553-5020.

More information on the School Actions process can be found at the cps website by visiting


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  • Pablo Casals Elementary was told today by a network rep and a person from the CPS office of "Talent". They read Brizzard's letter to us and gave us some basic info. The hearing is at the end of January and the final decision is at the end of February.

  • chicago virtual charter [chicago vocational is the correct school]

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    In reply to Alexander Russo:

    I believe this should say Chicago Vocational Charter

  • Marquette staff was informed of their "turnaround status" today afterschool. Final decision in February.

  • thanks - now i'm hearing 10 schools, total, roughly split between AUSL and CPS office of turnarounds.

  • nominations are fine, too -- for example i've gotten a few folks who think that dusable charter should be on the list

  • 10 schools, CPS apparently gave the list to mainstream outlets under embargo but i got it on my own

    here are a couple more -- Tilden, Fuller -- the rumor list is up to 5!

  • is austin off the hook? i'm not hearing any of the names of the nine potential schools listed in this austin talks story from a few days ago

  • Carter G Woodson South Elementary School (not the UofC charter but the other one in the same building)

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    passing the time -- disproportionate impact of public sector cuts on AA community, says NYT

  • i've updated the original post to list the 10 schools -- six to AUSL and four to CPS -- slated for turnaround. thanks to everyone who helped with the crowdsourcing -- now what do you think of the list and the plan of action?

  • Turnarounds simply displace the least desirable students and achieve greater results, at least in part, by improving the overall quality and caliber of school enrollees. This is similar to the charter school model. In both cases the claim of achieving dramatically better results with the same students is woefully misleading.

    For example, when Harper High School was turned around the school saw a 20% drop in enrollment. Not surprisingly, Harper saw the number of chronic truants drop by 25%. Coincidence? Not likely given that this change occurred essentially overnight. Turnarounds then, of course, receive millions in additional funding to support the remaining students.

    That same year Roberson High School, a receiving school for formerly Harper students, saw a one-year increase in enrollment of about 15%. The result? Chronic truancy at Roberson skyrocketed. Roberson, of course, received no additional funding to support its students.


    These turnarounds do not happen in a vaccuum. We need to be honest about the reality of the turnaround model: strive to better serve a smaller portion of more highly functioning students while giving up on the rest, simultaneously destabilizing and sabotaging true neighborhood schools. Of course, those receiving neighborhood schools then become targets for the next turnaround as their achievement declines. And the cycle continues...

    CPS is truly expert in the areas of dishonesty and deception, dysfunctional data and disinformation.

  • I found the CPS press release interesting in relation to discussing the performance data relating to AUSL turn around schools. The earliest school turn around is Sherman according to the press release, but no performance data is cited for the school in the release but data is provided for other AUSL turn arounds. Why is that? The turn around process began in 2006 and Sherman then had 584 students by 2011 the school had 456 students, a decline of 22% in five years.

    In 2006 50% of students at the school's highest grade level, 8th grade were able to read at state standards, by 2011 58.6% of 8th grade students at Sherman were reading at state standards. Moreover, at grade 8 only 18.2% of Sherman students with IEPs were reading at state standards in 2011 compared to a citywide average of 36.6% of 8th graders with IEPs. At least in theory these were the students that the school had for the longest period of time and they should reflect the results of the turn around process as they leave for high school.

    However, the real question is the 22% loss in students at the school. Were these students lost more likely to be among the lowest performing? I don't know the answer to that question, but clearly CPS and the public should be asking. I think Sherman shows not all turn arounds are created equal and CPS needs to become more balanced in its assessment of the process overall.

    Rod Estvan

  • tilden and casals seem to be the big surprises -- see a roundup of mainstream coverage here -- - did CPS follow its own guidelines?

  • It's pretty obvious that the Turnaround concept (as well as Charter schools, Select Enrollment schools,etc. ) is just another form of TRIAGE - move kids around (separate them into more "manageable" groups: the "smart" ones here, the ones with "more parental involvement" there, the "problem" kids in this place, the SPED students in that...), to try to find a combination where some sort of actual education happens. Will it ultimately work? I really doubt it. When I read the"list" of things that are planned (increase the amount of Fine Arts, for example - Yeah, right... they would actually do something very positive like that?), it is really easy to see that most of these GREAT IDEAS will never really be put into place, and the schools will eventually just drift back into less than good. Worth a try? Maybe... However, staff at the schools being turned around do not deserve to be essentially "fired". Allowed to transfer elsewhere -sure. Maybe a fresh start would be good for everyone. However, considering all of the problems with failing schools that are not the fault of the people working there, it should completely understood that it is NOT the fault of the teachers, or even the fault of probably a majority of principals. The work I've seen in so many schools is positively heroic, in the face of impossible odds and conditions. It all gets back to the concept of TRIAGE. If it takes select enrollment, charter, turnaround, whatever, then so be it. Stop blaming the teachers, just come up with a system where most of the kids get an education. Trying to think that all students are potential college material is a joke. Take the ones that are, and get them there. Take the ones that aren't and at least make them literate and employable. Take the ones that are "problems", SPED, etc. and pay some of the best teachers more ("Combat Pay?") to work their small miracles with them. Are all kids alike? Obviously, NO. So stop thinking that they can all be educated the same. Separate them, track them, charter them, select enrollment them, special school them. I really do think the ultimate results would be a whole lot better than the system of failure currently in place. But I guess the expensive "consultants" and "cronies" who profit so much from the status quo (most of whom I really doubt have ever really spent much time in real classrooms) would then be off the Gravy Train. Certainly, we can't have that!

  • CPS has had some form of what is now known as turnaround for many years. It used to be re-engineering, reconstruction, redesign, etc. and the data has shown in all instances, whatever we call it, this method of improving schools is marginal if at all. After having worked in the district for 20+ years and coming into education at a time when change was afoot, I have seen it all. I have been through 1 closure, 1 re-engineering, 1 magnet school redesign, and left Fenger right before it too was turned around and now, thanks to administrators who have made a mad dash for the hills, a displaced Cadre substitute. I cringed when I read Brizard's words that it's not about the teachers who will not be rehired but it's about the children who have had, in some instances, ten years of ineffective education. A new pool of Reassigned teachers will be created from all of this,(that's only if they allow eligibility for teachers who lose their positions to school closings and turnarounds) the worst behaved students will be shuttled off to other schools to keep the incidence reporting rate of disturbances to a minimum, and the students who remain will take a deep breath and finally get the quality education they deserve.

    Because of this, I will establish a phenomenal after-school enrichment program, resign from the Board, and make a better income as an entrepreneur than an educator working for CPS. Oh...wait....those opportunities will only be given to those well connected individuals with ties to AUSL, the mayor, and the board members.

    Psyche! And it all sounded so promising.

  • Let's make a quick comparison, shall we?

    Tilden High School Vs. Youth Connection Charter Schools (YCCS)

    PSAE Meets/Exceeds %:
    Tiden - Under 10%
    YCCS - Under 10%

    Graduation Rate:
    Tilden - 77.5%
    YCCS - 44.7%

    Student Population:
    Tilden - 560
    YCCS - 3,500

    So which school would benefit more from a turnaround? But we know why that isn't goin to happen. YCCS is the dumping ground for the students kicked out and counseled out of the turnarounds! Hey, this new transparency thingy is actually working!

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