LSCs support school reform

Despite ongoing concerns about waning interest in local school councils, a survey of 350 CPS principals shows that an overwhelming majority (83 percent) believe their LSCs contribute to school improvement.

Yet with a record number of schools on academic probation, which shifts powers to hire principals and approve spending of discretionary funds away from councils to central office, some fear LSCs are being systemically weakened.

Test scores drive instruction

In this new era of accountability, student performance on standardized tests is a top priority for principals whose schools face repercussions such as probation and restructuring.

Nearly three out of four principals surveyed say they used test scores “to a great extent” to set schoolwide goals for student achievement. Asked to rate tools they used to improve instruction—such as students grade point averages, student/teacher surveys, in-house tests and direct observation—standardized tests was No. 1 on the list.

Principals who use standardized tests to:

Set schoolwide achievement goals

Examine trends in school performance 69%
Set goals for individual student achievement 54%
Evaluate programs 53%
Examine trends in teachers’performance 46%
Compare their school to other schools 29%
Teacher evaluation 26%
Compare grades and classrooms 25%
Compare performance of groups of students by race, gender or special education

Principals who rely on the following tools to improve instruction:

Standardized test scores 77%
Direct observation of classrooms (not walkthroughs) 67%
Student attendance 49%
Walkthroughs 48%
Other formal assessments 37%
Rubric-based scoring of student work. 37%
Disciplinary records 31%
Teacher-made tests and other informal assessments 28%
Percentage of graduates who qualify for high-performing high schools or selective colleges 25%
Letter grades or GPAs 20%
Other surveys of students, teachers or parents 14%

Source: Consortium on Chicago School Research

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