LSCs get help to track annual Chapter 1 spending

Under the settlement, CPS must provide LSCs with annual spending reports for state Chapter 1 funds, a list of supplemental programs the board provides to schools and training in budget planning. State education officials have agreed to create a “complaint office” where citizen inquiries about Chapter 1 spending can be directed.

CPS will extend homeless policy to CHA students

Under the Homeless Education Program, the board uses a city-wide tracking system to make sure that homeless students get tutoring, counseling, transportation and other support they may need. Each school has a designated liaison who is responsible for looking after homeless students’ needs.

200 elementary schools to get new programs, monitoring

By 2000, the 82 elementary schools placed on probation in fall 1996 and 1997 still had nearly 80percent of their students scoring below national norms in reading on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, according to a new analysis by the research and advocacy group Designs for Change. Designs faults the board’s top-down approach and its heavy investment in summer school and after-school programs instead of in the core school-day program.

Comings and goings

PRINCIPAL RETIREMENTS Janice Todd, principal of Lincoln Park High School for the past eight years, is retiring. Harper elementary principal Nathaniel Mason will succeed her July 1. … Pherese McManamon has retired as principal of Peterson elementary after 18 years. Replacing her is Joseph G. Kallas, former assistant principal of Mather.

Do it big, do it now and do it in

Paul Vallas’ approach to school improvement is, Do it big, and do it now. In the process, he’s done in some very good ideas. CASA, short for Comprehensive Approach to Student Achievement, is the latest example. And it’s infuriating. By September, 200 elementary schools are to have new programs up and running, and 15 new monitoring teams are to be in place. Six years into his stewardship of the Chicago Public Schools, Vallas should know better. Like most of his initiatives, CASA no doubt will do some good. But it doesn’t come close to the kind of effort that’s needed to close the achievement gap that afflicts minority children.

“Big four” lead the way in AP

Nationwide, 6 percent of all high school students take AP exams. Chicago’s “big four” high schools — Lincoln Park, Whitney Young, Lane Tech and Kenwood– have stayed ahead of that curve, growing the percentage of students taking AP tests from 8.8 percent in 1996 to 11.4 percent in 2000

Inequities persist even at the top

Access to challenging course work appears to be a factor in this disparity. Valedictorians who attended better-performing schools reported taking an average of four AP courses, while those at poorer-performing schools took an average of only two. Seven valedictorians didn’t take any.

Farm teams to groom high achievers for IB

Some elementary school teams have well-established relationships with nearby IB high schools, such as Amundsen High and its feeder, McPherson. Other high schools may not need a Middle Years partner. Senn, for example, is on tap to receive a gifted center for 7th- and 8th-graders, school officials say.

Using AP, IB to change schools

While the School Board was motivated by the “brain drain” of top-scoring 8th-graders to private and parochial high schools, a new survey of CPS’ own valedictorians shows that even they found their course work wanting: Only 30 percent described their high school classes as “very challenging,” and they tended to come from the system’s higher-scoring high schools. (See Inequities persists even at the top)

IB breaks a barrier at Senn

Joe sums up his first-ever public school experience with a teenager’s backhanded compliment. “I thought Senn was gonna suck, but it didn’t suck as much as I thought it would. From what I hear, it’s gotten better,” he says.