New School Ratings out today

December 3, 2014 at 9:52 pm 97 comments


CPS announced the new ratings program today.  The SQRP system.  “SQRP”… just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Some interesting points from the press release:

Instead of Level 1,2,3 there is now 1+, 1, 2+, 2, and 3.  So if you look at a school see if it has a plus or not.

Over half the schools in CPS are now Level 1 (meaning 1+ and 1) which is considered good standing.

Very few schools are Level 3 anymore (previously 185, now 44.)

12 Schools that earned a Level 1 last year but had significant changes affecting them get a grace period of 1 year before they lose their Level 1 status (I assume this is designed for Receiving schools… so they don’t look crappy this year on account of absorbing kids from a lower level school.)

I haven’t yet found the scoring system for this new system.  Anyone know where that is?

Have you looked at your own school’s ratings?  When you find your school here   I suggest clicking on PROGRESS REPORT to see lots of data including the results of the survey that parents and teachers took about the school.

Press release:

CPS Releases Comprehensive School Quality Ratings

Rankings Provides Students, Families and Educators with School Performance Details;
Charter Warning List Updated

 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today released its new school quality ratings to provide students, families and educators with the most accurate and comprehensive assessments of schools performance as well as fairly allocate educational supports to ensure schools can achieve the high academic standards set by the District.

 “SQRP was designed to empower informed choices by providing students and families the most comprehensive indication of school quality ever provided by the District,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “For teachers and principals, the new ratings will provide the framework to fairly and accurately measure schools’ performance, as well as help guide our decisions in providing support.”

 Rather than disproportionately relying on test scores, SQRP looks at a broad range of indicators of student success such as student attendance, academic growth and school culture.  The new policy adopts the use of five categories of performance as compared with the former three categories – providing a greater level of granularity for school performance while maintaining classifications already familiar to the school community. 

 The new SQRP ratings are based on data collected during the 2013-14 school year and show that 161 schools achieved the highest rating of Level 1+ and 154 schools were rated Level 1, with 118 schools rated Level 2+, 159 at Level 2 and 44 schools at Level 3.

 Based on the SQRP ratings, 330 schools are now in good standing, and 54 schools will receive provisional support from the Central Office.  A total of 148 schools will continue to receive intensive support to help improve academic achievement.

 The previous performance policy – the school rating system before SQRP –  ranked 174 schools at Level 1, 231 at Level 2 and 185 schools at Level 3.  Under the former system, 201 schools were on probation.

 “The expanded ratings will help us develop and coordinate support for teachers and principals and give a clearer picture of the strengths of each school,” said Byrd-Bennett. 

 As part the SQRP policy, 12 schools were allowed to maintain their Level 1 ranking for one year despite earning a lower designation.  These schools experienced a condition or an event that had a significant impact, such as a significant change in student population, a significant change of the school’s teaching staff as compared to the prior year or a change of principal.

 “Schools that experienced a significant change that may have contributed to a lower rating deserve a full school year to recover without an impact to their rating.  By giving schools a one-year reprieve, we are recognizing the effect of the change on students, teachers and leadership without unfairly burdening the school with the additional requirements of a lower level school,” said Byrd-Bennett.

 In addition to the new ratings, CPS identified six charters schools to be placed on the Charter Academic Warning List as a result of failure to meet academic standards as specified by the SQRP and the school’s contract: Amandla Charter School, BSICS- Betty Shabazz Campus, BSICS – Sizemore Campus, CICS- Larry Hawkins Campus, CICS- Lloyd Bond Campus and Polaris Academy Charter School.

 No charter campuses are on the Academic Warning List for a second straight year, as all five campuses on the previous Warning List demonstrated academic achievement on the new SQRP.  Three schools previously on the Warning List showed substantial improvement: UNO Rufino Tamayo Campus earned a Level 1+ rating, and CICS Basil Campus and Catalyst Circle Rock Campus earned a Level 1 rating.

 Charter campuses with persistent performance less than Level 2+ may face sanctions, up to and including non-renewal, at the time of agreement renewal.

 In August 2013 and with amendments in August 2014 and November 2014, the Chicago Board of Education approved the use of the SQRP beginning in School Year 2014-15 to provide a highly detailed assessment of district schools. After using a Performance Policy that placed schools into one of three rating levels, CPS changed to SQRP, which places schools into one of five rating levels, utilizes performance benchmarks tied to national standards and uses metrics better aligned to the District’s strategic plan, including college enrollment and persistence.

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Comparing SEHS Admission Systems in Chicago, NYC, and Boston SEHS offers by Tier (for kids that are currently freshmen)

97 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John P  |  December 3, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Phillips HS went from a 1 to a 3. The old scale allowed a school that had bad metrics, like Phillips, to get a 1 based on better than CPS wide improvement. It appears the new rating doesn’t allow that. Still it is hard to fathom that all but 44 schools have acceptable ratings. Of course when you close your bottom fifty and consolidate . . .

  • 2. cpsobsessed  |  December 3, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    I agree John P – is it possible that CPS has only 44 schools that are doing poorly, given what we know about some of the test scores? I guess as the press release says, the Level ratings looks beyond test scores. Also, CPS seems to count anything Level 2 or Level 1 as low performance, as they point out that charters that are under Level 2+ may face sanctions.

    I suspect that having too many level 3 schools looks bad and also discourages families from attending certain schools, thus a new scale puts less than 10% of the schools into that category.

  • 3. cpsobsessed  |  December 3, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    I’ve noticed quite a few “good” schools (ie high test score schools) with a NEUTRAL rating on this point. How does your school rate? Is this an inherent issue with CPS? Do you feel your school excels at this?

    Parent-Teacher Partnership: Do parents feel teachers partner with them to support student success?

  • 4. cpsobsessed  |  December 3, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    I also see quite a few NEUTRAL ratings for this one too:

    Ambitious Instruction: Is instruction focused, challenging and engaging?

  • 5. claire  |  December 4, 2014 at 1:02 am

    @CPSO I believe the questions in the Ambitious Instruction domain are answered by students. #teenagers?

  • 6. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2014 at 1:04 am

    Oh I don’t think I looked at any high schools on that yet…just looking at elems so far. Do the HSs survey the students?

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  • 7. Bronzevillemom  |  December 4, 2014 at 10:06 am

    I’m really disappointed with what I feel is an inaccurate progress report for my child’s school.

    Our principal is in her 3rd year and I have personally felt like she is doing a great job. Many of the 7th & 8th grade parents don’t embrace change and have pretty much decided to be adversarial against anything that she tries to promote.

    “Does leadership focus on results and school improvement?”

    It’s upsetting to see that it is rated “very weak” when about 10% of the parents showed up at the Principal’s Curriculum assemblies and participated in her presentations.

    Ours is a gifted school and it’s easy for our students to score in the 99th % for attainment but its harder for us to see a lot of growth because some of the veteran teachers are stuck in teaching just what’s in the textbook. Instead of the teacher’s looking at themselves they want to blame common core and the new administration.

    It is unfortunate.

  • 8. RL Julia  |  December 4, 2014 at 11:27 am

    I am not convinced that this is a helpful analysis.

  • 9. Yon  |  December 4, 2014 at 11:40 am

    I’m not convinced it is helpful either.
    I will say though it’s great to see Lindblom and Brooks get the ratings they truly deserve. Both are excellent institutions at about the same level as Lane Tech. I wish more people would consider them. Westinghouse and King I believe show promise and will get better as time goes on. They should probably market themselves better. I’m not sure why South Shore is selective enrollment?. Their numbers don’t seem promising at all. Hope they can turn it around it’s a gorgeous facility.

  • 10. 3rd grade parent - neighborhood school parent  |  December 4, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    it feels too political…. i thought a ‘five point scale’ would provide better differentiation… i honestly thought my neighborhood school would be ranked/rated lower…. but it along with many many others pulled a 1+.
    in the end, it’s a political rating where CPS gets to determine the ‘cut scores’ for each bucket.
    Really, 130 schools are 1+ ????
    Do 130 schools get mentioned on this blog as desirable destinations/institutions for your/our kids education? ???

    My surprises were Amundsens & Pritzkers ratings.

  • 11. Chris  |  December 4, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    “I am not convinced that this is a helpful analysis.”

    But it’s “analysis”. It really feels like the result was substantially manufactured by which criteria they decided to include and the weighting. There will certainly be some schools with the ‘wrong’ ranking, but I don’t believe they didn’t fit test before settling on the criteria. It’s a question of what the goal of the “ranking” is, and does this ‘refinement’ aid that (not clearly stated) goal?

    It’s a lot like the Tiers–CPS decided on what to include as the 6 criteria to get T1 and T4 to *mostly* look like what they wanted each to look like, and while there are certainly more than few outlying tracts, year to year, the majority of the tier placements make ‘sense’, given the subtextual goal of their use.

  • 12. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  December 4, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    A lot of jiggering went on. Some of it made sense — schools with strong attainment but low growth were guaranteed certain levels based on their attainment. The goal of putting a greater emphasis on growth v. attainment also made sense.

    However there are plenty of structural problems. First, growth only matters if it crosses certain intervals. A school at the 69th percentile in growth gets the same score as one at the 40th percentile. What this means is that if a school was at the 41st percentile one year and jumped to the 69th percentile the next year, its score for growth would not change!

    Second, the weighting is arbitrary. Why does attendance count for 20% of the score? For example, if 10% of the weighting was moved from attendance to attainment for grades 3-8 (currently 10% for both subjects), Ashburn would be a Level 1+ school, rather than a level 1 school. 15% of the weight goes to attainment scores, of which 5% depends solely on 2nd grade scores. Why so high relative to 6 other grades?

    Third, the rankings ignore income effects. Unsurprisingly, the correlation between the % of low income students at a school and the SQRP rating is -0.46. Of the 131 schools with SQRP ratings below the mid-point, not a single one had less than 50% low-income students. And all but one had low-income levels above 70%.

    Fourth, the key growth statistic, “national school growth percentile” is not a national statistic at all. It is based solely on how CPS schools stand in relation to each other. Which would be fine if it was the outcome of the rating, but it is an input to the rank. There is no such thing as school-level national growth in NWEA’s calculations.

  • 13. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    @CBall, where is the formula located?

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  • 14. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  December 4, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    The formula is in the

  • 15. claire  |  December 4, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    @CPSO As far as elementary schools go, it might just be middle schoolers being hard on their schools…

    But…it is interesting to wonder about how high test scores and super high NWEA growth might actually not be due to engaging and compelling classwork. Could it be due to more kill-and-drill curriculum? I know of one high performing school, with huge growth numbers, who give their kids “NWEA” vocabulary quizzes with words that often appear in the questions on the tests. I also know schools put students into homogenous groups based on NWEA and teach skills in isolation. I’m sure for many kids this type of instruction might seem boring and lack real-world application. Maybe? Just thinking out loud.

  • 16. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    @claire: I don’t know that what you describe sounds that much different than much of cps instruction other than the focus on certain topics that are test-y. I’d actually like to see more math drilling myself.

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  • 17. claire  |  December 4, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Sigh. I guess you might be right. With rankings and equations like these, it’s hard to blame them. Just interesting to think of how “good” a school is beyond these metrics. Maybe the reason why some schools are not getting the growth numbers they need are because they’re not teaching in the traditional CPS way, and perhaps teaching outside the box? Some, not all obviously.

  • 18. @cpso  |  December 4, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Amen! To the math drills! I agree! Although I have one in an AC & 1 in an SE HS, I would like more math drills! This common core math is very rigorous & it seems the kids are reading just fine & may be on grade level in math as well but the growth in math at many schools is not impressive!

  • 19. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    I was noticing that about math too. Does anyone have input on their child’s school math vs reading performance?

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  • 20. IBobsessed  |  December 4, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Are any schools still using Everyday Math? Or did Common Core finish off that program?

  • 21. Curious  |  December 4, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Skinner North uses Everyday Math. So does Lincoln.

  • 22. klm  |  December 5, 2014 at 8:27 am

    @19 and @18

    re: Math

    I know. My kid at a RGC used to have tons of math homework. Once in a great while it seemed like too much, but 95-98% of the time it was fine and i was able to see what he/she was doing, how the mental processes were working, etc. I used to complain, but now i kinda’ miss it.

    This year, there’s not homework –everything’s done at school on computers. Once a “level'” is done, there’s the next one on the computer, etc. I’ll assume all’s fine b/c my kid attends a great school, rocks achievement tests, etc.

    But still.

    it’s a little off-putting to have no idea what your kid’s doing math-wise (especially when you have a kid that virtually never talks about what’s going on at school, like mine).

    It’s weird –a few years ago there was lots of homework. Now, with Common Core, there’s not nearly as much and none in math.

    I know that I should be happy on one level, since I used to complain about “all the homework,” but I now realize that at least then I knew what my kid was learning and I felt like I has some “control” as a “hands on parent,” in terms of making sure that he/she was doing what was necessary to learn math and get a good grade, etc.

  • 23. Anna  |  December 5, 2014 at 9:28 am

    @12 Are you sure there are no school level growth percentiles? I found this yesterday and assumed it was where they came from

    The key is that schools are compared only to other schools with similar starting mean RIT levels.

  • 24. Yon  |  December 5, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Can someone explain how a 5 year graduation rate can be lower than the 4 year rate? That doesn’t make sense

  • 25. Peter  |  December 5, 2014 at 10:46 am

    The national attainment %s on MAP of some of these schools is quite impressive.

  • 26. cpsobsessed  |  December 5, 2014 at 10:51 am

    @peter, such as which ones?

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  • 27. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  December 5, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    @23 That NWEA document makes clear that the norms are for each grade-level in a school. NWEA has no problem with comparing the mean RIT growth for an entire grade at one school with another school, provided the mean RIT for the grades at each school started at the same point. But they do not calculate either an attainment or a growth percentile for all grades in the same school. Not only do they not do it, they caution against even trying to do it just on the basis of mean RITs:

    It is tempting to want to summarize these results across
    the grades for the school. In this case, with only eight grades, users might calculate medians. However, in this case as well as most others, summarizing performances across grade levels is likely to mask useful information. We believe that it is more interesting to ask questions about what may have given rise to the pattern of grade-level results instead. (p.10)

    They also warn:

    Lastly, as we have cautioned in our previous report, the norms we have provided for MAP assessments, whether at the student or school levels, should not be employed uncritically as “targets” or, worse yet, as “standards” of performance or growth. What these results represent is our best estimate of where students might be today, given the available information and given the appropriate statistical treatment.

    CPS has weighted the RIT scores per grade by the number of students in each grade for a school and then also weighted the national grade-level means by the number of student in each grade. Then normalized those results (after censoring those RIT scores so that no student scores below the start of the 1st percentile or the start of the 99th percentile in each grade).Then the scores are standardized.

  • 28. Anna  |  December 5, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks Christopher Ball. That is what I was beginning to suspect…

  • 29. cpsobsessed  |  December 5, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Wow, I cannot follow that at all.

    I assume if I’d had CC math as a kid, I could. 🙂

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  • 30. Tpick  |  December 5, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I really enjoy the posts on this site however I’m noticing that a lot of people choose not to mention the names of the schools when mentioning certain issues. I thought the purpose was to be helpful and to provide transparency from a parent’s point of view especially when it comes to the curriculum, instruction and leadership at various schools.

  • 31. AW  |  December 5, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    @10 – hope you were pleasantly surprised by Amundsen — lots of great things developing there!

  • 32. Angie  |  December 5, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    @20. IBobsessed : It’s now called Everyday Math, Common Core State Standards Edition. Still the same going in circles, and endless regurgitation of the old material.

  • 33. Sarah  |  December 5, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    @peter I was thinking the same thing! Some elem schools’ tested really, really high. Here are some reading/math student attainment percentages:

    Hawthorne 99/99
    Burley 99/98
    Franklin 97/96
    Sauganash 99/99
    Jackson 99/99
    Lasalle 99/99
    Wildwood 98/97
    Thorp 95/98
    Disney II 97/97
    Edgebrook 98/99
    Lincoln 99/99
    Blaine 99/99
    Disney 96/97

    These are national percentiles? Wow.

  • 34. Gerome  |  December 6, 2014 at 8:12 am

    “Some elem schools’ tested really, really high.”

    Those scores do not mean the kids tested high. It means their growth in prior test scores was high. So you could have school full of kids that scored in the 10th percentile in reading in one year and improved to the 15th percentile the next year for a 50% growth rate. That might be 99th percentile in growth, but it is still 15th percentile in overall “achievement”. Their achievement percentiles are probably very similar to their national ISAT scores from prior years (or whatever national testing the schools used). I can guarantee you none of the schools you listed are 99th percentile on absolute achievement on a national basis….or anywhere close to it.

  • 35. Gerome  |  December 6, 2014 at 8:21 am

    “It’s now called Everyday Math, Common Core State Standards Edition. ”

    Yep, in fact Everyday Math required basically no changes to meet common score standards. It is more traditional type math methods that are being eliminated because of common core. People will say that common core is not a curriculum, but rather just standards. Well guess what drives curriculum?

    Everyday Math is horrible. It is what you get when you have “educators” creating a curriculum instead of subject matter experts (i.e. mathematicians). Hey look, math is fun! Too bad you can’t do division. The US already performed poorly against other countries in math, it will be getting even worse.

    We moved our kids out of public schools years ago because we could see the trend. Centralized education planning in DC is not a solution. Sure they are great at delivering mail and running healthcare websites, but they should not be dictating local school standards. Best of luck to all.

  • 36. Attainment  |  December 6, 2014 at 9:15 am

    I am with Gerome here…I thought attainment meant whether the kids were at grade level. For instance, using Hawthorne as an example all of their students are at or above grade level in reading and math??? Is that how the attainment scores for the schools work OR from some of the comments above is that Hawthorne when compared to other CPS schools is in the top 1% of CPS schools in math and reading???

    I’m so confused now…

  • 37. Anna  |  December 6, 2014 at 9:40 am

    @christopher ball – seems strange they wouldn’t just use the grade level norms. Why create a new metric at all? It’s not that many more data points. Is it beause not all schools have the same grade levels? Also do you know where the “priority group” norms come from?

  • 38. Stats Happen  |  December 6, 2014 at 9:49 am

    You could have ever school in the school system do worse on MAP test scores and you would still have schools in the 99th percentile. The schools that did the “least worst”. Hey every other school’s scores dropped 10% year over year but your school scores only dropped by 9.99%. Congrats, you’re #1 !!!!!

  • 39. cpsobsessed  |  December 6, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I guess I hadn’t fully digested the fact that the attainment numbers are percentiles. In the past, the isat numbers we’d see were percent of kids who meet/exceed, which seemed helpful to me.
    I have to get my head around this new way.

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  • 40. cpsobsessed  |  December 6, 2014 at 10:31 am

    So (sorry if I’m repeating.) The growth percentiles are in comparison only to schools with the same starting RIT, right?

    Are the attainment percentiles also comparing like-leveled schools? Or, given that the average is 50, is this really all (measuring) schools nationally?

    Ie, randomly looking at Waters right now, which has attainment in the 97-99th percentile for both reading and math in the upper grades.

    So this is one of the top scoring schools in the country? Sorry, I’ll read the posts in more detail again to see if I can get my head around it….

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  • 41. cpsobsessed  |  December 6, 2014 at 10:56 am

    okay, I am off on a tangent looking at the parent/teacher/student surveys. What looked like some moderate ratings at our school seem to be on par with general CPS ratings (so we have some consistent issues across the district.)

    One thing I cannot find – what age of kids rate the schools on “ambitious instruction?” I see ratings for elementary schools, but I don’t know which grades it represents and/or if the sample size is really small.

  • 42. Sarah  |  December 6, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Woah. Now I’m really confused. So what exactly IS the “Student Attainment?” It is saying that these students are performing better than 99% of who?

    @Gerome I thought Growth measure and Attainment were different metrics. For example, Disney II has a high attainment, 97/97, but “Average” growth. So kids are smart, but not getting “smarter enough?” I think this might be why they are Level 1 not 1+.

    I figured when I saw my daughter’s class’s 3rd grade attainment level (99%), that meant her grade was collectively performing in the top 1% of 3rd graders who took MAP, nationwide. But this isn’t the case?
    Very confused!

    BTW @CPSO Kids take the survey starting in 6th grade I believe.

  • 43. Anna  |  December 6, 2014 at 11:38 am

    The attainment scores are nationally normed, but again, because the norms are based on mean RIT per grade the NWEA has published only grade level norms. For example for 3rd grade spring reading the system is 186.73, so a school with a mean reading RIT for spring testing of 208, it wold be at the 97th percentile against “all” other schools. One with a mean RIT for 3rd grade spring reading of 182 would be at the 21st. CPS has combined 3-8 grade measures in some way to create a “school attainment” metric.

  • 44. cpsobsessed  |  December 6, 2014 at 11:43 am

    @sarah, this is my current understanding of it as well:

    I figured when I saw my daughter’s class’s 3rd grade attainment level (99%), that meant her grade was collectively performing in the top 1% of 3rd graders who took MAP, nationwide. But this isn’t the case?Very confused!‬
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  • 45. @41  |  December 6, 2014 at 11:45 am

    The student surveys begin in 6th grade.

  • 46. SoxSideIrish4  |  December 6, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    44. cpsobsessed | December 6, 2014 at 11:43 am

    I’m having a hard time understanding the breakdown bc I had thought the same thing. I thought it was kids who took the MAP nationwide.

  • 47. cpsobsessed  |  December 6, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    I updated a sample page above this post, from my son’s school. It *implies* that both growth and attainment are compared to a national norm. I think we all agree/are certain that the growth is a national norm of schools with similar RIT scores.

    So the question is, what is the attainment national norm.

    We see the top CPS schools in the 99th percentile. I see that ____ (I won’t mention the school, but a well known low performer) with percentiles of attainment that looked around the 5th percentile.

    I think it’s throwing me a bit to think we have that many 99th percentile schools in CPS. Or maybe NWEA isn’t really taken nationally yet?

  • 48. cpsobsessed  |  December 6, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Also, looking at my son’s school’s reading growth, year after year in the 99 percentile growth. Those kids should be total reading geniuses by 8th grade, right?

  • 49. Anna  |  December 6, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    CPSObssessed I posted a link to the grade label nation norms @23. Don’t forget attainment is linked to socioeconomic status and schools are super segregated so it makes sense there would be a huge range in grade level mean RITs. A school with socioeconomic diversity that mirrors the nation as a whole would most likely be at 50th percentile. Whereas a school like Lincoln or Bell, should be expected to be in the 90s.

  • 50. cpsobsessed  |  December 6, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    @anna, oh, thank you. Have just been reading posts on my (vintage) blackberry so far, so I’ll log in later and check it out. Thanks for posting.

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  • 51. Angie  |  December 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    @35. Gerome: “We moved our kids out of public schools years ago because we could see the trend. ”

    What kind of math curriculum your kids have? Is it better than Everyday Math?

    Here’s what I don’t understand. We know American kids are behind in math, so why can’t we just buy a good curriculum from China, Korea, or wherever the math instruction is actually successful? Why waste untold amounts of money on developing, printing and teaching this Everyday stuff that will not get our kids anywhere?

  • 52. cpsobsessed  |  December 6, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    @angie, good question!

    I feel like in the book “the smartest kids in the world” that is about the countries with top education outcomes it wasn’t about the curriculum very much, rather the teachers and general way they approached it.

    But I’m with you – wondering how they teach it and whether they’re doing ED math etc. Something is (supposedly) helping math sink in better there than here.

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  • 53. Angie  |  December 6, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    @52. cpsobsessed: It seems that their kids are expected to learn math, period. No excuses such as “math is hard”, “blacks can’t do math”, “poor people can’t learn successfully” and so on.

    How hard is to have a math textbook that explains things properly, gets kids to practice them, and then moves forward from there? School level math was not invented yesterday. There was plenty of time to figure out how to teach it. So why not find the best method of teaching, and use it?

  • 54. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  December 7, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Remember that the percentile for the attainment scores are just empirical: where do the students stand in relation to each other. Once could consider the 50th pctl to be de facto “grade level” performance, but NWEA does not make that argument. Attainment is just the RIT score; growth is the movement in the RIT score from one period to the other.

    “The growth percentiles are in comparison only to schools with the same starting RIT, right?”

    Yes, but keep in mind that this is a potentially noise statistic at the grade level. There a thousands of kids who start at the same RIT level, but when it comes to whole grades, there are sometimes only 1,400 schools in the sample. Since there are often at least 25 starting RITs, that means —if the starting norms are even distributed (a big assumption) — there might be only 56 schools beginning at the same average RIT level for the same grade. Being better than 99% of the other schools doesn’t mean quite as much when you are talking about a sample of only 56 schools. (This data was collected from spring 2009 through fall 2010).

    “Are the attainment percentiles also comparing like-leveled schools”

    No. All the schools in the same grade.

    “[R]andomly looking at Waters right now, which has attainment in the 97-99th percentile for both reading and math in the upper grades.
    So this is one of the top scoring schools in the country?”

    You are looking at the growth scores there, not attainment. If attainment in a school’s 6th grade was at the 99th pctl (the average RIT for the grade actually), this means its avg. RIT was higher than at least 1,300 other schools in the spring math 6th grade norm group.

  • 55. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  December 7, 2014 at 3:53 pm


    It’s not clear that it is the curriculum per se. American students from the wealthiest schools do very well on PISA math. For schools that have less than 10% reduced/free lunch, the mean math score in 2012 PISA was 526, ranking 7th rather than 30-something. This was higher than Finland or Canada. The overall US mean score was 481, but the US doesn’t drop below that mean level until the % F/R lunch goes to 50% and above.

  • 56. Angie  |  December 7, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    @55. Christopher Ball: Wealthiest kids have access to private tutors, learning centers, additional textbooks and whatever else will help them to get the score needed for Ivies application. But that does not mean that their math curriculum is any good, and does nothing to help the poor kids learn math.

  • […] New School Ratings out CPS Obsessed: Instead of Level 1,2,3 there is now 1+, 1, 2+, 2, and 3.  So if you look at a school see if it has a plus or not.Over half the schools in CPS are now Level 1 (meaning 1+ and 1) which is considered good standing. Very few schools are Level 3 anymore (previously 185, now 44.) [58 comments] […]

  • 58. walker  |  December 8, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    I know from one parent when her son was missing school over 3 weeks, the school instead of marking those days as “absence without excuse”, actually excluded him and then enrolled him back. I assume a student is not counted as missing if he isn’t enrolled, right? I’m just curious whether it’s a common practice or “creative” way to keep high attendance percentile.

  • 59. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  December 8, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    @58: principal’s have some discretion over whether an absence is excused or not. So if the child was accompanying his parent who had to be out of town to care for a sick relative for an extended period, the principal could excuse that. But if it was just to extend a family vacation, then principals should count that as unexcused.

    But your broader point is correct, given that avg. daily attendance is the largest single factor in the rating, the incentive to fudge the numbers is strong. Honesty can screw you: our school had attendance at 95.9%. Had it been 96%, our school would be Level 1+ rather than Level 1. Our attendance could have been 95% rather than 95.9%; it would not have mattered for our ranking based on the SQRP system. So a difference of 0.9% in immaterial but a difference of 0.1% is crucial.

  • 60. CPS teacher  |  December 8, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    @58 I think that ten days of unexcused absences causes the student to be dropped from the attendance. This was the policy, not sure if it is still current policy.

  • 61. walker  |  December 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    @60 Thanks.

  • 62. Peters  |  December 8, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Using cpsobsessed Waters example, it looks like 95% and 84% of the student body are at or above national MAP levels in reading and math respectively.

    Is this wrong, and if not, it seems impressive to me.

  • 63. Peters  |  December 8, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Audubon is 97% and 99% attainment in reading and math respectively.

  • 64. Peter  |  December 8, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Sorry for some reason the link doesn’t go to the schools I posted about.

  • 65. Efren Toledo  |  December 8, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    I am so impressed at the data discussions occurring on this site – Please share it with your principals. I have seen correlations and analysis in your comments that go beyond what is often shared at the Network level. Kudos to you all! By the way, has anyone done a comparison of attainment/low-income? – This may be of help to those parents looking for a school who may not live in the most affluent areas of the city.

    Here’s my quick analysis based on Sarah’s list (ranked by lowest income):

    Disney 96/97/66
    Thorp 95/98/55
    Jackson 99/99/45
    Franklin 97/96/45
    Sauganash 99/99/36
    Lasalle 99/99/36
    Disney II 97/97/35
    Hawthorne 99/99/24
    Wildwood 98/97/24
    Burley 99/98/22
    Blaine 99/99/22
    Edgebrook 98/99/17
    Lincoln 99/99/15

    This list is by no means exhaustive (it is just based on Sarah’s); but all this to say – take a look at Thorp in the Portage Park neighborhood. There is still time to apply. We are a city-wide magnet school with no entrance exam.

  • 66. Sarah  |  December 8, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    @Christopher Thanks so much for explaining. I think I got it now. So, the attainment level doesn’t *really* show how well a class is doing in relation to grade level expectations/the Common Core State Standards. E.g. If everyone else is performing below grade level, the class that is *meeting* would fall in the 99th percentile. Not exactly as *great* as it seems, perhaps. Like being the best house on a bad block 🙂

    This also explains the discrepancy between MAP scores and ISAT scores. The MAP will take you as high as you can go, with grade level being mostly irrelevant. Kids with sky-high RIT scores can balance out low achievers. The ISAT composite, on the other hand, shows percentage of those who meet/exceed grade level expectations. A high achiever’s score could not offset a low achiever’s.

    So in some ways, the ISAT number is more illustrative of individual achievement. Never thought I’d say those words…

    Do I have it right?

  • 67. klm  |  December 9, 2014 at 8:30 am


    Some of this kinda; reminds me of some of the seeming contradictions with NCLB.

    Some years, some of the best public schools in the state were “failing” because a certain subset of students was not making AYP (adequate yearly progress). I recall a few years ago that New Trier was “failing” under NCLB because a subset of special education students did not make AYP –thise despite that fact that the overall average ACT score was over 27 and almost 23 for the “special ed” subgroup (which is hiogher than even some CPS SE HSs) in question.

    By contrast, some really low-achievement schools were not “failing” under NCLB and did well because they were making AYP –albeit from a very low starting point.

    So, some (objectively-speaking) low-achieveing schools were doing well under NCLB, but some of the highest-achieving public schools in the country were “failing.”

    For example, if at School A, one year students meeting grade standards goes from 19% to 27%, that school’s performance is “good.”

    If School B goes from 92% to 89%, it’s suddenly doing “poorly” in terms of “progress” and will be knocked down and be considered doing “poorly” by certain measures.

    However, I’d still much, much rater have my kids go to School B — who wouldn’t?

    People need to examine the fine print before jumping to conclusions.

  • 68. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  December 9, 2014 at 9:02 am

    @66 You are correct that high scorers on the ISAT could not balance out low scorers, but the cut-scores for the ISAT were somewhat arbitrary — there is a controversy in educational testing of how cut-scores ought to be set (witness PARCC v. SBAC — SBAC has set cut-scores ahead of the test; PARCC is going to wait until after administration to set cut-scores). Fewer than a hundred people know exactly what separate an ISAT meets from below or meets from exceeds.

    In principle, you are correct about MAP and attainment, but I think it would be unlikely that the top 1% of students have not achieved what the CC requires. But it is open question as to what RIT level or what percentile measures adequate achievement of CC standards, if for no other reason than that MAP is not trying to answer that question. NWEA does not market it as a summative assessment, but as a formative or interim one. Nevertheless, high performance in some math sub-groups probably represents full achievement of some CC standards and low performance indicates less achievement of the standards. But NWEA is not claiming that it can pin-point all of the CC standards that a students has or has not achieved.

    Quite frankly, no standardized test could do this. Students would be exhausted before they could complete such a test under uniform conditions. 4th grade math standards have about 35 different standards and sub-standards, with some requiring students to do multiple tasks under an individual standard or sub-standard — and that’s on top of what the student should already know from prior grades. You would need hundreds of questions to cover everything with sufficient accuracy and few students could sustain concentration, even with breaks, over a sufficiently concise period to maintain test security and get accurate results. It’s sort of like saying “I want a high rate of return on my investments but I want low risk too” or “I want to know the precise position of the particle and its momentum” — there are inherent tradeoffs.

  • 69. AChopefulMom  |  December 9, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    This may not be the right thread for this question, but does someone have any helpful info on why Taft is a 2+? Would this score apply equally to the AC and IB diploma program?

  • 70. cpsobsessed  |  December 10, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Ok, I finally looked at the document that describes the SQRP inputs. It’s too mentally overhwhelming without looking at specific school data. I need context to figure it out. Thanks for Christopher Ball for posting the link.

    I found the excel file that has all the school inputs in it. I ranked the scores that are the inputs for the SQRP ratings. The top school list is kind of interesting: (top score is 5)

    BURLEY 4.9
    KELLER 4.8
    LASALLE 4.8
    MCDADE 4.8
    POE 4.8
    SKINNER 4.8
    CARDENAS 4.7
    CHAVEZ 4.7
    DRUMMOND 4.7
    HEALY 4.7
    HEFFERAN 4.7
    HIGGINS 4.7
    LINCOLN 4.7

  • 71. cpsobsessed  |  December 10, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    And the top HS ratings. 5 is max. Sorry this is hard to read.
    But… some interesting rankings, eh?
    What is “Back of the Yards” HS?

    Level 1+

    Level 1

  • 72. cpsobsessed  |  December 10, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Answering my own question:

    Back of the Yards College Preparatory High School is a Wall-to-Wall IB school located in the historic Back of the Yards community. Application for admission to the school is required for all students who are interested in attending.

  • 73. cpsobsessed  |  December 11, 2014 at 12:28 am

    Scores for the north side neighborhood high schools. I don’t see Taft on the list for some reason:

    Senn/LVHS/Amundsen score very similarly:

    Senn 3.4
    LVHS and Amundsen 3.2

    My Voice/My School survey
    Score high on AP/IB exam
    1 year dropout rate
    Freshmen on track rate

    My Voice/My School survey
    Freshmen on track rate
    Af-Am score growth

    College persistence
    1 year dropout rate
    4 year drop out rate
    Freshmen on track rate

  • 74. cpsobsessed  |  December 11, 2014 at 12:30 am

    Oh, I found Taft. Interesting:
    Elem (AC) 4.7 (this would be Level 1+)
    High school 3.3 (so on par with Senn/Amundsen/LVHS)

  • 75. cpsobsessed  |  December 11, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Sorry, more data!
    The schools that combine elem and HS were in a separate file
    School/Network/Elem score/HS score

    LANE HS / NETWORK 4 / 4.9 / 4.6
    TAFT HS / NETWORK 1 / 4.7 / 3.3
    YOUNG HS/ NETWORK 6 / 4.7 / 4.9
    ALCOTT HS/ NETWORK 4 / 4.6 / 3.2
    KENWOOD HS/ NETWORK 9 / 4.4 / 3.5
    LINDBLOM HS/ NETWORK 11 / 4.4 / 4.5
    DISNEY II MAGNET HS/ NETWORK 1 / 3.8 / 3.4
    OGDEN HS / NETWORK 6 / 3.8 / 3.6

  • 76. Maureen Kelleher  |  December 11, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Glad you figured out Back of the Yards HS. Chavez Elementary (also among the top elem schools on the performance list) is one of the feeders to BoY. So if you are tired of stressing about schools, come on down, CPSObsessed parents! 🙂

  • 77. AChopefulMom  |  December 11, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Thanks cpso! This is very helpful.

  • 78. cpsobsessed  |  December 11, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    I really like that the AC and high schools are broken out for the same school.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 79. PPA - Parent Paying Attention  |  December 11, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Wow this is crazy! Charter schools only did well with lots of back door help.


    Check out

    Not shocked at all. Just proves once again how the system does what it wants.

  • 80. cpsobsessed  |  December 11, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I couldn’t understand that charter article. Can someone explained what happened exactly? There appeared to be some rationale but I didn’t have the patience to slog through it.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 81. Curious  |  December 11, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Can anyone tell me how well Morgan Park High School scored?

  • 82. @81  |  December 11, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    It is a level 2 school in need of provisional support. If you go to the link that has the excel sheet & go to the tab that has HS with a grammar school then you can see the breakdown.

  • 83. wombat  |  December 12, 2014 at 11:31 am

    @80 The gist, as I understand it, is that CPS changed the staring RIT levels in their growth calculations at some charter schools to adjust for different test schedules or versions of the test, but the NWEA publishes growth norms for spring to spring, fall to fall, and fall to spring timeperiods. So unless the growth period measured was 18 months, spring 2012 – fall 2013, or fall 2012 -spring 2013 there would be no need to make any adjustments, as they could just use a different norm. Not to mention the fact that changing RIT means seems unethical on it’s face. What was the methadolgy for the adjustments?

  • 84. Curious  |  December 12, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Thank you. What does “in need of provisional support” mean? Will the principal be replaced?

  • 85. North Center Mom  |  December 12, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
    -quote often attributed to Mark Twain

    CPS seems to have master all three types.
    Not happy that my child’s high school selection will partly hinge on this test; the results of which can be manipulated by CPS.

  • 86. @84  |  December 12, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    You are welcome! It means that the Network Chief will be involved more with the school and be more “hands on with the principal” to provide more guidance. Principals at level 1 and 1+ schools have autonomy and lead the schools as they see fit.

  • 87. falconergrad  |  December 13, 2014 at 12:21 am

    @69 I don’t know how much attendance impacted Taft but that is the first thing I would check. With attendance still being worth 20%, that can have a big impact for tiny differences.

    IMO, attendance has too much weight, especially with a 7 hour day. I am more likely to keep my kinda sick or still recovering kid home when I know they have a seven hour day ahead of them. Our school worked very hard on attendance this year and last, to the point that I am sick of hearing about it.

    Our school (Portage Park) would supposedly be Level 1 now if they were still using the old system. That’s what they tell me. Instead we are a 2+, which is an improvement on 2, I guess, but stinks for the staff that was trying to get to the coveted Level 1. I don’t really care, now that I know more about the leveling.

  • 88. @87  |  December 13, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Portage Park looks like they lost a lot of points because of their culture and climate being partially organized and attendance. You should go to the excel spreadsheet to see where your school lost points.

  • 89. city dad  |  December 16, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Let’s be real. There are a large number of Level 1 Plus schools, really ????

  • 90. PT Barn Um  |  December 18, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Hey, let’s discuss some convoluted scoring system meant to deceive instead of the underlying problems with the failing Chicago public school system.

    “Hey, my school is a 1+!!!”

    “Can your kid compete in college?”

    “Probably not, but who cares, it’s a 1+!!!!”

  • 91. cpsobsessed  |  December 18, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    @PT – would it be more helpful to have all schools in cps other than SE schools all be categorized the same?
    Parents still need a way to compare schools.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 92. Sad Mom  |  December 20, 2014 at 5:07 am

    “Most public school students aren’t prepared for college work, data show”

    “Illinois schools still produce students who enroll in college but aren’t ready to carry the academic load. The state says 46 percent of its high school graduates are ready for college. The national testing service ACT, however, says only 26 percent are ready.”

  • 93. Sad Mom  |  December 20, 2014 at 5:09 am

    Last post didn’t seem to go through so I am breaking into two (apologize if double post):

    “Most public school students aren’t prepared for college work, data show”

  • 94. Sad Mom  |  December 20, 2014 at 5:09 am

    Part 2:

    “Illinois schools still produce students who enroll in college but aren’t ready to carry the academic load. The state says 46 percent of its high school graduates are ready for college. The national testing service ACT, however, says only 26 percent are ready.”

  • 95. otdad  |  December 20, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    @93 Sad Mom:
    CPS’s 11% is 2.5 times sadder.

  • 96. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  December 22, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    @91 There is plenty of data to compare schools available w/out the rankings. All the inputs to the SQRP — and more — are listed on school profile pages.

    The SQRP becomes a way to hide info for comparison: you cannot search for schools by say, MAP % or attendance, on the CPS school locator. Only by SQRP score. So if a school was level 1+ because its attendance was 96.0% but its MAP attainment percentile was 88th, but another school was Level I only because, while its MAP percentile was 89th, its attendance was 95.9%, would you really have a meaningful difference between the schools?

  • 97. Wake Up  |  December 23, 2014 at 10:17 am

    When the public school system is a disaster, test scores are down and the kids do poorly in college what do you do? First you lower the definition of meets expectations, then change tests, then load up on test prep (short term bump in test scores) then change curriculum and goal posts (though disastrous common core “standards”) – it will take decades for the stupid citizens (borrowing Jonathon “Obamacare” Gruber phrasing) to figure it out. It’s for the kids? Really? The main objective is to enrich the politicians, unions and their friends.

    Sun Times Excerpt:

    “Companies that Chicago Board of Education member Deborah Quazzo has an interest in have seen the business they get from the city’s schools system triple since Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her to the board last year, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

    In all, five companies in which Quazzo has an ownership stake have been paid more than $3.8 million by CPS for ACT prep or online help with reading, writing and math.

    Last year — the district’s 2013-14 budget year — records show CPS paid ThinkCERCA, which offers an online teaching aide, a total of $416,210 to help teachers from at least 84 schools and two school networks try to meet the state’s new Common Core standards. So far this year, the payments total about $493,000.

    Quazzo has continued to invest in the companies doing business with CPS since her appointment. She says she sees no conflict of interest between her roles as a steward of the cash-strapped school system and as a private investor.

    “It’s my belief I need to invest in companies and philanthropic organizations who improve outcomes for children,” Quazzo says.

    In a 2009 speech to a business group, Quazzo spoke of the challenge of making money from education.

    “One of the dynamics we need to change is what we see in the venture capital community is a real reticence when the word ‘education’ comes out of your mouth,” Quazzo said then. “Everyone cringes like this because you can’t make money in education.”

    In several instances since Quazzo took office, one of her companies has cut its prices so its bills to CPS fell just below the $25,000 threshold that would require approval by CPS officials. Academic Approach, which offers ACT test-preparation help, gave Corliss High School a 2.21395 percent discount on $25,565 worth of services, cutting its bill to $24,999 — $1 shy of needing central office approval. The company also sent bills just under $25,000 to three other CPS schools. ”

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