It’s Time for Some Good News

With all of the stories covering CPS’ challenging year, it would be easy to forget how hard Chicago’s education professionals have been working to keep our children moving forward, and the successes they’ve achieved.

For those of you following public education in Chicago: It’s time for some good news.

Paul Zavitkovsky, a UIC researcher with Chicago’s Center for Urban Education Leadership, co-authored a study with Steven Tozer, looking back at 15 years of test scores – not rates of improvement, but actual scores.

They found when you compare students of similar socio-economic backgrounds in and out of CPS, students in the district outscore their counterparts in the rest of the state.

Source: University of Illinois at Chicago. Scores are for 3rd grade reading, though researchers say scores for other grades and subjects show a similar pattern. Numbers represent the percentage of students scoring at or above the statewide median score on the PARCC reading exam in 2016. Students learning English were omitted from this data.

Image source: WBEZ

In a recent WBEZ story, Zavitkovsky notes: “You name the subgroup, and kids in Chicago are doing substantially better than other Illinois kids outside the city.”

While the study and WBEZ’s coverage mention a number of demographic factors at play here – similar studies returning the same observations have convinced many former skeptics of CPS. The numbers and the outcomes we see for students add up to what many in Chicago already know – the hard work from our principals, teachers and parents are making CPS better, every day.

Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice Jackson thinks CPS’ partnerships with universities to identify problems, as well as increased accountability from schools, has been helpful.

Poverty continues to be a major factor in the scores in and out of CPS, with many districts downstate seeing more impoverished students, and poor students from all backgrounds testing poorly, regardless of district – though, as Dr. Jackson has pointed out, Chicago has had to deal with overcoming those economic disadvantages longer than many other areas, and is perhaps better suited to dealing with those challenges.

We know this good news only illustrates how much farther we have to go – and how much work principals both in and out of TFC have ahead of them. But we’ll continue our support of our friends and fellows – the hardworking principals of Chicago Public Schools – because they believe in our teachers and schoolchildren, and we believe in them.

And as the numbers show: Our belief, and their efforts, are paying off.

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