Arne Duncan recently outlined a series of reform projects to the city’s civic leaders. First up: hiring outsiders to bring in new and improved curricula and intensive coaching for teachers. But those working in schools are skeptical, fearing that the board’s plan will end up as a passing fad.
Ese primer año, el LSC de Pasteur, al igual que muchos otros, enfrentó a un personal escolar hostil. “Se tardó un rato que los maestros confiaran en que nosotros estábamos allí para ayudar,” dice Perry.
Though most parents show off their offspring from the get-go, the founders of Best Practice protectively kept quiet. But now, like a typical 2-year-old, the school is beginning to speak for itself. More than 200 eighth-graders have applied for half as many seats in next year’s freshman class.
Corey H., as a lawsuit that the Chicago Public Schools settled is known, is forcing schools to move their special education students into regular classrooms and out of so-called self-contained classrooms, which are for students with disabilities only. CASE, the acronym for end-of-course tests called Chicago Academic Standards Exams, looms as a hurdle students some day must clear to pass courses, to be promoted and perhaps even to graduate. (See Catalyst, November 1998.)
Before this school year ends, freshmen and their teachers will face one more test—the board’s new Chicago Academic Standards Exams (CASE) in the four core subjects, English, math, social studies and science. In April, social studies teachers from Schurz and other high schools gathered in central office to review proposed new curricula and ask questions about the exams.
In Chicago, the nationally normed Iowa Tests of Basic Skills and their high school counterpart, the Tests of Achievement and Proficiency, have taken on greater importance because they’re used to decide which students must go to summer school and which ones get retained. They’re also used to decide which schools will go on remediation or promotion and which will be reconstituted.
Father Robert Carroll, principal of Carmel High in Mundelein, replaced Region 1 Education Officer Eva Nickolich as probation manager and electrified the faculty in a speech last fall. “You should stop school and read, just read,” he later recalls telling them.
With increasing flexibility from central office and continuing teacher resistance to more work without extra pay, Amundsen opted to start on a much smaller scale. This year, advisory will be held only on previously planned long-division days, which are held four days each quarter. On three of the four days, the 40-minute division will be devoted to advisory activities; on the remaining day, an entire grade will meet with the principal in the auditorium. The first sessions started Friday.
Even though the school year is winding down, classwork looms large at a cafeteria table full of freshmen. This year the Summer Bridge Program’s largest component will be 13,973 freshmen who scored below 8th-grade levels in math and/or reading on the nationally standardized Tests of Achievement and Proficiency, TAP for short.