In calls to 43 high schools, Catalyst identified 28 that are offering credit recovery for the first time this year, as well as seven that previously started credit recovery on their own. (The School Board reported that 25 were offering the special classes.) Most schools have offered tutoring since 1996, using a portion of separate high school reorganization grants.
Within a year, the attendance rate at the Northwest Side school rose by five percentage points, and daily tardies dropped to 60. Today, its 90 percent attendance rate ranks in the top 10 citywide. Meanwhile, the percentage of students scoring at or above the national norms in reading doubled from 20.8 in 1996 to 40.6 in 1998, putting it 10 points above the citywide average.
Some educators and activists contend the board’s training had logistical problems that prevented council members from completing the courses, including inconvenient locations, confusion about who was required to take them and a lack of translators. However, most central office administrators and principals contacted by Catalyst cite illness, job conflicts or other personal problems as the main reason members missed training.
Held at the University of Illinois at Chicago on May 10, 1997, “Voices of Youth” was organized by a group of 10 high school students recruited by the Lindeman Center, an education and resource-sharing organization. The conference attracted 60 high school students from across the city. Participants teamed up in small groups to discuss their concerns and generate ideas for school improvement. They then presented their suggestions to peers and CPS administrators.