Comings & Goings

In October, the School Board removed five high schools from intervention status and placed them back on probation. The board conceded that the high schools—Bowen, Collins, DuSable, Orr and South Shore—had not resolved “the problems that caused chronic low student performance” but had made steps toward academic improvement.

Teen learns business, life skills in a unique school program

This year Gray is a senior who has made an amazing transformation. For the last three years, she has learned what it takes to start a business, and that experience has taught her how to temper her behavior and set goals and achieve them. In the process, she has discovered that school is an important stepping-stone to her future.

Detention centers in Michigan, Delaware lead the way

In 1994, Justice Department investigators found overcrowding and no special education services in the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility. Under threat of a lawsuit, Wayne County asked the Detroit Public Schools to collaborate to provide services, but the school system declined.

Detention center school off probation

About 40 percent of Jefferson’s students are eligible for special education, and 60 percent of them attend regular classes. With the addition of certified high school teachers, Adams was able to assign more special education teachers to work in regular classrooms, providing extra help to the special education students.

Balancing the scales for special ed

According to the Consortium on Chicago School Research, disabled high school students have been increasingly segregated in the most academically troubled schools. Austin High School is at the top of the list. There, 40 percent of this year’s incoming freshmen are in special education.

Who is Corey H.?

Q. What law did the school boards break?

A. The lawsuit charged the city with violating the 1975 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which requires students to be educated in the “least restrictive environment.” The state board of education was sued for failing to enforce those mandates.

Model inclusion at Mather High

Mather, a North Side school with an enrollment of 2,000, began redirecting students with disabilities into regular classrooms in 1997, a year before the Corey H. settlement compelled all high schools to do the same. Locally, Mather also pioneered pairing core subject teachers with their special education colleagues to co-teach mixed classrooms.

Probation tally dips

In recent years, high schools were placed on probation if fewer than 20 percent of their students scored at or above the national average in reading on the Tests of Achievement and Proficiency (TAP), a nationally standardized test. Now, high schools will be placed on probation if fewer than 15 percent of their students meet standards on the Illinois Prairie State Achievement Exam.

High school special education

Selective high schools are admitting relatively few special needs children despite mandates from the district and federal court to do so. In fact, such schools are attracting top performing students away from neighborhood schools, which are then left with a concentration of special education students.

High schools bear brunt of teacher shortage

The shortage in special education teachers is especially acute for 11 high schools in the poorest communities, where as many as 30 percent of students qualify for special education services, according to a study that analyzed 1999-2000 enrollment. At Austin High—where 40 percent of freshmen enrolled this fall have learning or other disabilities—five of 21 positions are currently filled by substitutes.

Schools struggle with federal law

High schools are more resistant to serving special education students in regular classes, says Christopher Koch, director of teaching and learning at the Illinois State Board of Education. Federal law requires they do so to the extent that a student can benefit.

The haves and the have nots

At Northside College Prep, special education students barely make a ripple. About a third are severely handicapped and, therefore, taught in a classroom by themselves. Most of the rest have learning disabilities but also high test scores.

Disabilities by type

Learning disabilities—an inborn difficulty
processing certain types of information—are the most frequent cause
of special education placements nationwide.

CPS expands accountability

Old System New System
Reading tests only Reading, writing, math, science and social science tests

Elementary: ITBS only
High School: TAP only

Elementary school formula

Achievement Level
ITBS: percent at, above national norms
ISAT: percent meeting, exceeding state standards
Progress Level
Improvement on ITBS and ISAT
exceeds targets

Too many, too few

This year, the incoming freshmen classes at
the following high schools have the highest concentrations of special education
students in the district.

Screening special needs students

Two selective enrollment high schools—Whitney Young and
Payton College Prep—accepted 5 percent or less of disabled students
who requested special accommodations on the entrance exam, such as extra
time taking the test. More special education students applied to these schools
but CPS did not track their applications or acceptance rates.