WebExtra: Q&A with Martin Koldyke

This fall, students who arrive at Sherman Elementary in New City will be greeted by a brand-new staff charged with transforming the failing school, where less than 20 percent of children were reading at or above national norms in 2005. Rather than shut down the school, CPS chose to re-staff Sherman and turn it over to the Academy for Urban School Leadership. Academy founder and venture capitalist Martin Koldyke talked with Senior Editor Elizabeth Duffrin about Sherman’s revival, prospects for opening more Academy-run schools and the need to fix failing schools.

WebExtra: Comings and Goings

CENTRAL OFFICE REORGANIZATION Chief Education Officer Barbara Eason-Watkins will no longer oversee high schools but will continue to oversee elementary schools. Donald Pittman, the chief officer of high school programs, will now report directly to CEO Arne Duncan. … Peter Cunningham, former communications director, is now director of external affairs. Reporting to him are the departments of communications, community relations, external resources, intergovernmental affairs and internal investigations.

WebExtra: High test scores spark CPS, state to dig deeper

Exactly what is behind the dramatic test score gains in Chicago and possibly those in other school districts across the state? A close examination reveals that extensive tinkering by state education officials with test pass rates, format and policy likely boosted scores without raising student achievement.

Chicago Public School officials and Mayor Richard Daley incited a barrage of media ridicule when they touted the district’s dramatic state test score gains as “historic” without acknowledging that revisions in the test might have contributed to the increase. Publicly, CPS is defending the validity of its gains, which are in the double-digits in almost every grade and subject. But privately, the district is working with the Illinois State Board of Education to get to the root of Chicago’s surprising achievement.