New performance policy would raise bar for CPS schools

Chicago schools will need to meet higher standards to avoid probation, and ultimately closure, if the Board of Education approves a new policy for measuring performance at the district.

The policy, part of a years-old plan to turn around or shut down struggling schools, would replace a similar version approved last year. But it contains additional language that requires schools to meet minimum requirements on state tests to avoid probation, even if they are in otherwise good standing with the district.

"We're just trying to raise the bar a little higher," says Monique Bond, spokeswoman at Chicago Public Schools.

The Board of Education will consider the policy during its monthly meeting tomorrow.

Under the new requirements, 50 percent of students at elementary schools would need to meet or exceed state standards on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test. At high schools, at least 10 percent would need to reach that benchmark on the Prairie State Achievement Examination.

Schools placed on probation are subject to additional oversight by district officials, who set up a school improvement plan and a corresponding budget to fix problems, and monitor the implementation of the plan.

After at least one year of inadequate progress, district officials may take additional measures. They may order new elections of the local school council, remove and replace the principal and other faculty members, or close the school.

Those measures, in place since the tenure of former schools chief Arne Duncan, have provoked some education advocates. Dozens of them protested last week outside the Hyatt Regency Chicago, where Duncan, now the U.S. secretary of education, visited to discuss federal education funding and policy.

The Caucus of Rank and File Teachers, at the protest last week, will head to district headquarters tomorrow on another matter: budget cuts. Tomorrow's board meeting is the first since officials announced that they would cut 1,000 positions at the district in the coming school year.

District officials and Marilyn Stewart, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union, have said that teachers are not included in the layoffs, but C.O.R.E. leaders say many of the cuts will unfairly hit district staff at schools without significant declines in enrollment.

Members of the organization say they will speak against the cuts during the meeting, starting at 10:30 a.m. on the fifth floor of 125 S. Clark St.

Staff Writer Adrian G. Uribarri can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 12, or adrian at chitowndailynews dot org.