The old system hinged on a single cutoff score on a single, nationally standardized reading test. The new one looks at both achievement levels and gains on a number of tests and, at the high school level, includes other factors, such as dropout rates.
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.
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.
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.
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.
First, and probably foremost, the idea of community schools is not most essentially “to keep the schools open in the evening and on weekends, and offer courses and services to meet the community’s needs.” It is, rather, to increase community ownership of the public schools and to increase community investment in learning outcomes
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.
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.
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.
|Learning disabilitiesan inborn difficulty|
processing certain types of informationare the most frequent cause
of special education placements nationwide.