Getting into trouble

At schools participating in the transformation project, absenteeism is a significant problem caused by a mix of suspensions, unexcused absences and class cuts. CEO Arne Duncan says the transformation project’s focus on curriculum is part of the district’s bet that if classes are more engaging, students will show up and behave.

Saying YES to helping delinquent teens

A new dropout prevention program aims to smooth the transition from detention center to high school and will also
provide participating schools with resources
to address the needs of students whose behavior and academic records
indicate they are most at-risk for dropping out and, perhaps, falling
into the juvenile justice system.

Q&A with Bill Milliken

Communities In Schools bills itself as the country’s largest dropout
prevention organization and envisions schools as the center of a
community. Bill Milliken founded the organization more than 30 years
ago. On a recent visit to Chicago, he sat down with Catalyst Associate
Editor Sarah Karp and Consulting Editor Cindy Richards to talk about
his legacy.

Teaching kids to cope

Students say social and emotional learning is the No. 1 area that CPS needs to improve. Research says it can boost academics. Now the district is poised to adopt a comprehensive strategy to teach life skills.

LAMP lights the way for kids

Lawndale Amachi Mentoring Program is the first local chapter of the
well-regarded Amachi program started in 2000 in Philadelphia by Rev.
Dr. W. Wilson Goode Sr. The faith-based program has won national
recognition for its work to bring together mentors with children whose
parents are in prison.

Helping students raise their ‘EQ’

Spry is one of the few schools in CPS that uses a formal social and
emotional learning curriculum; in this case, one that is called
Responsive Classroom. Next year, however, a $2.2 million program will
bring this type of curriculum—and an extra mental health worker—to 13
schools that have signed on to pilot a comprehensive approach to social
and emotional learning.

New plan to keep freshmen on track

Research confirms the early signs that students are on their way to dropping out of school: They are older than their peers; they are failing classes; and they are increasingly absent. Now, CPS is trying to figure out what it can do to get these students to change course. The biggest effort will come in new “freshmen on-track labs.” These dropout-prevention programs will be piloted in six high schools in the fall. Each lab will cost $310,000 for 18 months.