School performance data at five schools where principals were ousted generally was similar to many of the other 45 elementary schools and 30 high schools on probation, according to a Catalyst analysis.

In spring 2003, Cather and Bethune elementary schools posted higher reading scores on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills than a dozen or more probation elementary schools. Bethune, in particular, has posted higher overall gains since 1997 compared to most of its probation peers.

Only Truth posted scores that were significantly lower than most other probation schools. During Will Stigall’s one-year stint, ITBS reading scores plummeted from 22 percent at or above norms to 10 percent. However, the kindergarten to 3rd-grade school last year retained twice as many 3rd-graders as ever before, which might account for the sharp drop, notes Elaine Allensworth of the Consortium on Chicago School Research. More low achievers in the 3rd grade tends to depress test scores, she explains.

On the 2002 Prairie State Achievement Exam, 15 probation high schools posted lower scores than Austin, while 24 fared worse than Gage Park. The 2003 scores have not yet been released.

Austin had one of the district’s highest annual dropout rates, but Gage Park’s dropout rate was 15 percent last year, only slightly above the citywide high school median of 14 percent, according to a Catalyst analysis of CPS data.

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