Chicago Public Schools fail to make the grade when it comes to attendance, according to a report that graded city schools with an “F” in that category.
Nearly 32,000 Chicago students in public elementary schools missed four weeks or more during the 2010-11 year, according to a Chicago Tribune report. That’s roughly one in eight students, which is why the report graded city schools so low.
Information for the report was based on internal attendance data focusing on excused and unexcused absences for about 247,000 elementary-level CPS students, Tribune reported.
Those numbers only scratch the surface of the problem because officials only count attendance for students who are actively enrolled, according to the report. Tribune reported thousands of students whose absences were not counted because they were enrolled late, pulled out early or lost time transferring between Chicago schools.
The report provides new insight into a school system plagued by turnovers and a strike, all in one year. Currently, the new CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has been working on a list of schools that will close. On Nov. 2, she asked for an extension until March to provide the list.
Teachers have been worried the district is secretly planning to close up to 100 schools in an effort to save money, and the issue is shaping up as the next big fight with the Chicago Teacher's Union. On that same day Byrd-Bennett asked for the extension, parents and activists held a demonstration outside of City Hall. Nearly a dozen of the protesters were arrested.
Byrd-Bennett is the CPS’s fourth chief in less than two years. She stepped into the role hours after her predecessor Jean-Claude Brizard announced his resignation. During the strike negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union, she served as CPS' chief education adviser and remained vocal throughout strike.
Thousands of teachers in the nation's third-largest school district walked off the job on Sept. 10 after more than a year of slow, contentious negotiations over salary, health benefits and job security.