How Ghetto Is Your School?

The Chicago Public Schools have now made school report cards available on an interactive map. In what may be controversial, the reports not only grade how well students are doing academically, they grade the safety and the family involvement of each school, from “Very Weak” to “Very Strong.”

For example, Christian Fenger Academy, the Roseland high school where a student was beaten to death in a 2009 brawl, is given a Safety Score of 36. Robeson, which is located in Englewood, is even lower, at 29. But Northside College Prep, a magnet school in the North Park neighborhood, is given a 99.

Fenger students have complained about their school’s ghetto reputation. Now, the CPS has found a way to quantify just how ghetto its schools are.
“We cannot close the achievement gap and provide our children with the education they need and deserve without accountability in our school system,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “This new tool empowers parents to hold schools accountable for performance and provides them with another opportunity to be engaged in the education of their children.”
On the academic side, the report cards list:

  • Freshman scores on the EXPLORE test.
  • Sophomore scores on the PLAN test.
  • Junior scores on the ACT test.
  • Graduation rates
  • College enrollment

The report cards also list teacher attendance and offer a grade for Collaborative Teachers, which is defined as the answer to the question, “Do teachers work well together and strive for excellence?” The score is said to be based on teacher surveys conducted by the University of Chicago. To take two random high schools, Von Steuben has a Collaborative Teachers rating of 29, while Whitney Young has a rating of 46.
Over the summer, schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard asked parents what they wanted to see on school report cards. According to a CPS press release, they asked for rankings that went beyond test scores, grading “school culture.” 

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