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The [Thursday] Papers

"Parents picking up their children's report card [Wednesday] and on Thursday were supposed to find out their school's rating based on a new, more comprehensive accountability system, but for some reason CPS officials have not released the ratings, nor did they give out the colorful school progress report parents are accustomed to receiving," Sarah Karp reports for Catalyst.

Principals use the ratings as a way to market their schools. Also, parents use them to decide which schools to apply to or whether they want to keep their child at their current school. Applications for selective enrollment and magnet schools are due on December 12.

Since 2008, when CPS started rating schools in an attempt to help parents choose among them, the ratings have been released in early fall. The new rating system, which was announced in August 2013, has five levels rather than three and takes into account more factors, including college enrollment and how many students took tests.

In response to questions about why the ratings have not been released yet, CPS issued a vague statement: "CPS has spent considerable time reviewing data and examining the impact of this new system, which has caused a delay in releasing the new ratings. As a result, the school ratings were not included in student report cards. We expect to release more information on the new ratings in the near future."

The lack of information has fueled speculation that the ratings are being withheld for political reasons or because the ratings are not what leaders expected. One principal said the delay raises questions about the validity of the ratings.

Just to reiterate the irony: School report cards based on CPS's new accountability system are late.


Speaking of accountability, Marc Trestman vs. Barbara Byrd-Bennett.


Trestman may be 3-6 this year, but last year CPS went 0-50.


On the other hand, unlike Trestman, Byrd-Bennett is doing exactly what she's been asked to do, which makes her more like Theo Epstein because she's been losing on purpose.


Back to Catalyst:

"Many suspected that there were problems with the new rating system when, this past August, district officials announced that they were making a big alteration. After originally touting the fact that the new rating system was more comprehensive and was based on academic research, CPS officials asked the board to allow some schools to be rated solely on test scores."

In other words, CPS decided to impose an accountability standard based on what academic research showed what worked best until that research showed they've been doing it wrong all these years. Instead of taking accountability, CPS changed the accountability formula. To avoid accountability.

It would be like the Bears deciding to reward turnovers instead of wins to justify Jay Cutler's new contract - and then bragging about accountability.


To the research CPS now wants to diminish:

"It's not all about the test scores, stupid," the Sun-Times noted earlier this week.

"That sums up a new University of Chicago study, a groundbreaking analysis of middle-school student performance that lays out which measures best predict success in high school and college.

"What matters most for later academic success are middle-school grades and attendance, far more than test scores and demographic factors (race, poverty and the like), concluded the study of Chicago Public Schools fifth- through eleventh-graders. Standardized test scores are not the best predictors of academic success, as our test-crazed world might have us believe."


Back to Catalyst:

"Under the revised policy," Karp reports, "schools will get two ratings: one based on multiple factors and one based solely on test scores. The higher of the two ratings would be their official rank in the district's 5-tier system."

Which is really now 10 tiers. Though in the end, it's still just two.

Veterans P.S.
Speaking of veterans, our very own Tim Willette did some research of his own after reading The [Wednesday] Papers . . . our e-mail exchange.

TIM: I took a look at the VA tables - there are only just over a million veterans under age 30, compared with 22 million overall. The median age is skewed much older than the national average. (For example, there are only 5,898 veterans under age 20 - there are probably 5 million working age Americans in that cohort.)

ME: So what do you take from that? Iraq/Afghanistan veterans are a relatively tiny number, and the fact that their unemployment is higher than older veterans and their peers is probably ... simply generational and lacking skills? That would bolster my argument! I don't know any other way to interpret, other than to say the whole editorial is just a lazy pro-mom, pro-apple pie affair.

TIM: Exactly. There are more 85+ veterans than under 30 veterans, so "veteran unemployment" is a practically meaningless term.


Lest I be accused of cherry-picking, here's the rest of the exchange:

ME: We should start a tumblr called After the Revolution ...

TIM: For some reason this morning I thought of putting a framed photograph of Richard Nixon on my desk. I changed my mind.

Years ago my sole desk photo was of Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker. People would ask if they were my parents.


TIM: How about one called "After the Beachwood Inn?" "Hey, I can't find 'Sign of the Gypsy Queen' on this jukebox!"

ME: god i love april wine

The JoB.S. Mayor
A young African American woman asked me yesterday at the Jackson El station to sign a petition to put Rahm Emanuel's name on the ballot for re-election.

ME: You really think he's doing a good job?

HER: I do.

ME: Why?

HER: He's brought 200,000 jobs the city.

ME: Where did you get that data point from?

HER: It was reported. In the Sun-Times.

ME: Well, I'm a reporter and I know that isn't true*. Did you agree with the school closings?

HER: Yes, about half those schools really needed to be closed.

ME: So you half-agreed . . .

By the time I got that line out, though, she had moved on. If she's gonna get paid for each signature, she can't waste time actually talking about the whys and wherefores - kind of like the Emanuel administration itself.

*Crain's says the city has added 43,000 full-time jobs since 2010 - and obviously Rahm isn't responsible for them all, if any.

Assignment Desk
Here's a good reason for a local reporter to expense large quantities of beer. Too bad it's not baseball season, though, because I would start at Wrigley Field.


* Edgewater Performer Vies To Be First Woman In Blue Man Group.

* Suit Challenges Chicago's Topless Ordinance.

It would be better if it was a headless suit; then the headline could be "Headless Suit Challenges Topless Ordinance."








The Beachwood Tip Line: Inherit the earth.


Posted on November 13, 2014

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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