School actions could top 100

December 6, 2011

A decade ago this spring, then-CEO Arne Duncan introduced the first Renaissance schools and coined the phrase "turnarounds" to describe a process of firing a school's staff and hiring new people to, hopefully, improve the school.

Since then, the announcement of school actions—turnarounds, closings and reconfigurements—has become an annual occurrence.

Last week, CEO Jean-Claude Brizard continued the tradition, saying that he wants to turnaround 10 schools, close two, phase-out two and officially shutter a few other schools whose phase-outs started years ago.

But what has become of the schools that have already been closed? Which communities are veterans of the experience? And what types of schools have replaced those shuttered?

This chart and map reveal that only 18 percent of the replacement schools (schools located in buildings where either closure or turnaround has occurred) were rated at Performance Level 1 by CPS, the highest performance level. Of the high performers, more than half are magnet or selective enrollment schools run by CPS. 

And nearly 40 percent are Performance Level 3, the lowest rating CPS gives. Of the low-achieving schools, about a third are turnarounds and a third are charter schools.

Also, less than 10 of the schools subjected to actions were on the North Side. Humboldt Park and the Near West Side, followed by Grand Boulevard, have had the largest number of school actions.

Almost all of the schools that closed were neighborhood schools with attendance boundaries. But more than half of the replacement schools have no attendance boundaries--which means no guaranteed seats for neighborhood students--as they are magnet or charter schools.