Lower scores, more dropouts

Special education students attend the worst high schools in Chicago, post dismal scores on standardized tests and drop out more often than their peers, according to an analysis of performance data by Catalyst Chicago.

Leaving special ed kids behind

Reinberg Elementary special education teacher Joyce Ruchti provides extra support to hearing impaired student Anthony Tellez in a general education classroom.

The district has a long way to go to meet No Child Left Behind standards for educating special education children. In recent years, since the federal law has been in effect, test scores have barely crept up. Only 26 elementary schools are within striking distance of meeting targets; at 212 other schools, fewer than 10 percent of students with disabilities are meeting standards.

‘Perfect fit’ for special education

Chicago Ag, a racially mixed magnet school with some 600 students, is one of six urban schools featured in a recent university report on high-performing, primarily low-income high schools. The school’s special education program got a special mention.

Amid big cuts, some schools gain

In June, Chicago Public Schools eliminated some 900 special education positions to help plug a gaping budget hole and account for a projected decline in special education enrollment. Overall, 355 schools saw special ed staffs decline, but 64 saw them increase.

No easy route to good jobs

Graduates of Chicago Public Schools who do not attend college have a hard time finding work, especially higher-paying work, and African-American students fare worst in the job market, according to a report from the Office of Post-Secondary Education.


A collection of facts, figures, and news briefs about school reform—both in Chicago and around the country.

Special ed staff cuts undermine efforts to improve instruction

When Chicago Public Schools dispatched the first round of special education staff cuts earlier this year, Blair Early Childhood Center was slated to lose six of its 28 special education aides. School leaders were incensed, so they decided to use a routine fire drill to make a point, asking six aides to stay on the sidelines while the rest of the faculty assisted children in evacuating the building. According to Assistant Principal Suzann Gorham, it was a disaster.

Comings and Goings

PRINCIPALS MOVING ON James Lalley, principal of Northside College Prep since the school’s founding in 1999, will step down at the end of the current school year to seek new opportunities. The school is conducting a national search for a replacement to take over in July 2007. … Gertrude Hill, principal of Harlan High, was removed and has had her contract terminated. Reginald Evans, former assistant principal at Simeon High, has replaced her.

District budget must regain public trust

Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform’s analysis of the budget finds that CPS is losing credibility, that the best interests of children are not represented in budget decisions and that disadvantaged children are bearing the brunt of budget cuts.

Stocks rise, so do test scores

Ariel Community Academy, created in 1996 under the district’s Small Schools Initiative, is the only public elementary school in Chicago—and maybe the only one in the country—that combines financial education with a real life component: a $20,000 investment fund for each entering 1st-grade class.

Q&A with Tim King

At Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men, students dress in suit jackets and ties, wear close-cropped military haircuts, attend classes from 8 a.m. till 4:30 p.m. and then, participate in mandatory after-school programs. Tim King, the former head of Hales Franciscan High, wants to replicate the charter elsewhere in Chicago and nationwide. King talked to writer David Smart about the philosophy behind Urban Prep and how single-sex education can help young black men succeed.