Watch: Duncan Debates Common Core

Here’s the video from the event covered in the daily news roundup below, in which Arne Duncan, Tim Knowles (UofC), and Rick Hess (AEI) debate the Common Core State Standards. Or, click here and watch New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell tell Jimmy Kimmel that class sizes can actually be too small for struggling students to thrive.


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  • For Ed, top 15 high schools by growth (Explore to ACT 2012-2013)

    1) PAYTON HS 7.5
    4) NOBLE ST UIC 6.5
    6) NOBLE ST MUCHIN 6.2
    7) YOUNG HS 6.1
    8) JONES HS 5.8
    8) NOBLE ST NOBLE 5.8
    10) NOBLE ST COMER 5.4
    10) NOBLE ST JOHNSON 5.4
    12) LANE HS 5.3
    12) NOBLE ST GOLDER 5.3
    12) NOBLE ST RAUNER 5.3
    15) CHGO MATH & SCI ACAD HS 5.1


    Individual school data should be verifiable on the schooldata portion of

    Not my work.

  • Noble Street pushes out ALOT of kids. For this data to be valid we need to examine the number of students who do not matriculate from 9th to 11th at all schools. If Noble Street is pushing students out who may lower scores this comparison is invalid.

    On a side note, having taught at a neighborhood high school for 10 years I've had a number of Noble Street push outs, but never once had a kid transfer in from an SE HS.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I have looked at Nobel enrollment numbers and I did not see big declines over time. Is Nobel adding students to fill those seats?

    Rod Estvan

  • Why the term "pushes out"? Do neighborhood high schools "push out" the many students who do not meet the minimum requirements for graduation and drop out?
    The substantial minimum requirements at Noble are non-negotiable. If students don't meet those requirements they are retained, not "pushed out". If they decide Noble is too much effort they quit and go to their neighborhood high school.
    There's no point in having high school charters that have similar environments and expectations as neighborhood high schools. The only way to progress at Noble is through behaviors that the student and parents agreed to when registering. There is no alternate path to advancement within the school.
    Students do not need to be academic stars to do well at Noble. Immature freshman that are retained and LD students can do just as well as everyone else at Noble.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Students may not need to be "academic stars" to be successful at Noble, but as you have stated, the requirements are non-negotiable. You either get with the program, or you can leave for the neighborhood high school. Therein lies the problem with comparing the success of some charters to regular old neighborhood schools. You can suggest that students get on board and head for success, but there is nothing you can do when they decide they aren't doing what they need to do to be a success. It's not like you can say, "Okay, we've done everything possible to help you get on track. It's not working, you will have to go the nearest charter school."

    I applaud the success of any school, be it charter or neighborhood, but at the end of the day, children who have parents with high expectations for their education and make sure that their kids are doing what is necessary to be successful produce good students.
    I would be a little more impressed by charter schools if they took in the students who have little to no parental support or expectations, like many of our students in troubled neighborhood schools, and demonstrated the same success with those less fortunate students. Until that happens, no matter what you think, the charter gets the advantage of having students who are more likely to succeed. It's a game changer in every way.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Assuming trends continue and traditional schools are forced out over time CPS will force Noble and other charters to alter rules. There will simply be no place for nonconforming students to go except alternative schools like those run by Camelot.

    The costs for massive placements in alternative settings is too high on a per child basis. So ultimately CPS will force Noble and other charter high schools to have fewer rules. At the rate we are going CPS will have at least half of its high school students in charters within ten years. This assumes of course CPS does not fiscally collapse and charter operators don't run in mass to suburban districts with lower income populations.

    Once charters effectively are forced to accept children from more dysfunctional families and keep them their relative advantage over tradition general high schools will decline. But by then the traditional sector and the CTU may be destroyed. All of this will play out over time and given my age I likely will not see the death agony of public education as we have known it for 100 years.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    I think 75% charters (K-12) will be the sweet spot for Chicago. I also think at that point many charters will be unionized but not under the same model that the CTU/CPS operates under. The CTU could be a player if it chooses to do so. CPS is shifting from one public education model another type of another public education model, a move which, seems to me, has very broad based political and societal backing/consensus.

  • In reply to CPS Parent:


    I think 75% charters (K-12) will be the sweet spot for Chicago. I also think at that point many charters will be unionized but not under the same model that the CTU/CPS operates under. The CTU could be a player if it chooses to do so. The CPS is shifting from one public education model to another type of public education model, a progression which, seems to me, has very broad based political and societal backing/consensus.

  • trends -

    I believe the pairing that we're seeing now with Noble and a nearby high school shows the plan. A student chooses A) A challenging, no-nonsense environment that will not waiver from high standards, or B) A traditional city high school that has a large focus on keeping student in the system.

    I don't have a guess how that breaks down in percentages. I don't see the benefit of forcing charters to accept the most dysfunctional children. This situation is not supposed to be a contest between adult groups where fairness dictates that each side should be equally handicapped with difficult students. I also don't see the point of having charters that are similar to traditional schools, unless its forced by declining school budgets.

    CPS hasn't tipped its hand yet in regards to its model for middle school age children. Theoretically, if you believe in the choice of Nobel-like schools for ninth grade, you believe in it for sixth grade. But I'm not sure what's practical, or what Nobel has found running its small middle school.

    K-5 is tough to predict because it has to be so localized to prevent the complete abandonment of the highest need families.

  • Let's flip that. Let's have charters that the "difficult" students and traditional high schools take the "easy" students. Why not?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Why not? Not enough instructional hours is one reason.

    Work a school plan backwards from the needs of an average student using existing budget constraints and the union can have them all. 99% of people care about charters from a practical, not philosophical position.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Really, not enough instructional hours… long is the school day in the Catholic Schools/private schools in Chicago?

    Why is it that some CPS schools had high scores and some had low scores under the old six-hour day?

    Charter schools have a longer day but it is not all instructional and with that long day we still don't have high scores overall.

    Adding on recess, lunch/game time or club time is not instructional time but I guess it does provide free day care.


    Interesting charter/public story. Link from prior Dist299 post.

  • ^ from above:

    Moody’s found that charter schools have had particularly painful impacts on aging independent school districts in the midwest and northeast, where shrinking tax bases and population outflow make it tough to absorb the loss of government funding that occurs when enrollment shrinks due to students shifting into charter schools. Cutting costs to match declines in funding can be difficult, as decisions to close schools—even if they are half-empty—can result in fierce political fights. And decisions to cut academic programs can actually exacerbate funding problems further by spurring still more students to leave for charter schools.
    “It’s sort of a negative feedback loop,” said Michael D’Arcy, one of the Moody’s analysts who wrote the report.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Well, as far as consolidating schools in Chicago there has been no "political fighting" whatsoever. More parents leaving non-charter schools for charter schools means they have taken an interest and are engaged - the more the better. Additionally, the public/government money follows the students so the resources are shifting not disappearing. I do think that eventually the 25% of "neighborhood" schools that are left should have the right amount of additional funding for wrap-around services - much more than current levels. Probably 3-5K more than the current per student level. Those schools need to be exemplary environments for the most "difficult" students and their parents/guardians.

  • Let's not forget that CPS is certainly helping along the process of "more parents leaving non-charter schools for charter schools" by closing dozens of traditional schools in a single year while continuing to open unsustainable numbers of charters. Now, why would a district with an under-utilization problem continue to open schools?

    Donn, you raise an interesting point about the non-negotiable academic environment at Noble versus CPS public high schools - this simply underscores the selectivity of Noble schools. Though an aspect of the selection process occurs after students are enrolled, it doesn't change the effect. And do you really think parents of struggling students will jump through the Noble application hurdles to enroll their child in a school where they'll likely not succeed? Again, back door selectivity. So it's not really clear the point you are making by posting the test score growth rankings. As you have noted, Noble schools are serving a different group of students. Are you asserting that Noble should now start comparing itself to Payton, Northside, and the other SE HS on all metrics?

    Last point: while we're throwing out random optimal charter / non-charter target percentages, I think there are way too many charters in Chicago as it is. I think an appropriate mix would be 95% public schools / 5% charter to allow charters to serve their original purpose of serving as instructional laboratories while not creating an inappropriate profit incentive that undermines public education.

  • In reply to Born Skeptic:

    You misunderstand the Illinois Charter School Code.

    Primarily the Charter School model is expressly formulated to benefit at-risk communities and its implementation has been limited to those communities. Since at least 85% of Chicago's students are at-risk, 75% Charters schools is entirely reasonable.

    The Charter School code does include the following:

    105 ILCS 5/ School Code, Sec. 27A-2

    (3) To encourage the use of teaching methods that may
    be different in some respects than others regularly used in the public school system.
    (4) To allow the development of new, different, or
    alternative forms of measuring pupil learning and achievement.
    (5) To create new professional opportunities for
    teachers, including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the school site.

    This does NOT imply or require that these schools should be "instructional laboratories" whatsoever. The intent is that these schools can be free from the "one size fits all", top-down control by Clark Street which is so often the justifiable complaint from "neighborhood" school teachers.

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    …free from one size fits all"….what a crock…..start visiting the charters and take note of the amount of charters who demand that their teachers use scripts…..better yet, apply to sub…$85.00 a day …no certification needed….your eyes will be opened…..

  • In reply to Born Skeptic:

    "Though an aspect of the selection process occurs after students are enrolled, it doesn't change the effect."

    Got it. I apply you principal uniformly, and find Hope, Dunbar and Orr have high selectivity. They take a large freshman class. In the following few years a large percentage of that class will leave these schools, unable or unwilling to meet minimum standards. Many of these drop outs will complain that these school are too hard, and that staff just didn't like them.

    But I mistakenly called theses students dropouts. They were "forced out" and "counseled out", if that's the new terminology.

    If e need to stop this "back door selectivity", as you call it, Orr must fully embrace the needs of all students. For those students who completely stop coming to school, CPD can find them at the end of senior year and force them to accept diplomas.

    Did I compare Noble to SE schools? I posted the 15 schools that had the highest growth to ACT. While a crude measure, it's certainly better than judging educational efficiency by a simple ranking by ACT alone.

  • Charters are nothing more than taxpayer supported semi-
    public schools ,like the catholic schools of old.

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    CPS Parent, where did you get the "75% sweet spot" number, may I ask? Some charter operators, like UNO are on the ropes. I seriously doubt Chicago parents will accept that many charters who do not have to share their financial information with anyone, and who can dismiss their children at will. Finally, "CTU could be a player, if they wish?" State law dictates that CTU can not be a player in charter schools. Do you have any research to back that 75% number? Only New Orleans, because of Katrina and a Right wing governor has numbers like that.

  • In reply to Ed Dziedzic:

    Chicago parents would probably be very happy with 90% charters. The only schools that I see as "non" charter would be a couple of schools in Lincoln Park, Gold Coast, and the fringes of the city that are almost suburban in character as well as some of the selective enrollments and a few that cater to the most hardcore "difficult" students and their "difficult" parents/guardians. I would think all schools would eventually be without enrollment boundaries which is a pernicious element which keeps this city ghettoized. The enrollment boundary driven neighborhood school status quo is the domain of the well-to-do; charters are the model which the underclass prefer the way I see it.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CPS Parent:

    I don't think you have any support for your assertion. In fact a recent article on the Huffington Post indicates that the demand for charters is overstated. You are assuming that all Chicago parents are charter supporters like you, when in fact they are not. Parents want good neighborhood schools. UNO has done a good job of poisoning the well for charters.

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    The elementary boundaries were set up so that children could ~walk~ to their neighborhood school and at the end of the day, ~walk~ home. In the case of high schools, it was the less time on a bus, the better.
    When you take away the boundaries, you get tardy students who *have* to be driven to school and get stuck in traffic, as well as schools that become over crowded while other neighborhood schools end up empty.
    Boundaries for schools do not cause or keep the city ‘ghettoized’. There are other reasons for this, so don’t blame it on the schools.

  • In regards to the list ranking schools by growth to ACT, the solution to growth may just be as simple as forming a competitive cross country team. At the small cross country regional in Washington Park on Sat., most of the schools in the top ten of the above list were represented.

    The correlation was striking. I don't have theory of why.

  • When the charter model was created in Minnesota in the early 1990's, the intent was for the schools to serve as laboratories of innovation that would develop unique instructional programs and techniques to be scaled to serve students more broadly - in traditional public schools. Somewhere along the way, an enterprising bunch figured out that: 1) there was gold in them there public education hills, and 2) they could take out powerful public sector unions while making a few bucks. Fast forward through model charter legislation spread state to state, NCLB / standardized testing frenzy / school accountability, RTTT, broom-toting Michelle Rhee, Gates / Walton / Broad millions, and cheating scandals to reach where we are today: public schools under attack, complete with subversion of the democratic process in which community support for traditional schools and resistance to charters is ignored by those who think they know better. But the tide it turning - one only need look to the mayoral race in NYC to see that.

    Donn, your point that Noble, Orr, Hope and Dunbar are ALL "counseling out" unsuccessful students is quite insightful. I guess some schools are better than others at failing upward, capitalizing from giving up on kids. Maybe now Bruce Rauner will toss a few dollars to Orr, Hope, Dunbar and all the other CPS high schools - after all, they're "being Noble" too and goodness knows they could use the cash.

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