Austin schools lag behind on CPS report cards

September 17, 2010
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Nearly half of Chicago’s elementary schools and two-thirds of its high schools received a D or an F in Chicago Public Schools’ own self-grading system, the Chicago Tribune reported last week.

In Austin, the numbers are even worse – though there’s debate over just how meaningful the bad report cards are.

About three-quarters of both elementary and high schools in Austin scored a grade of D or worse for the 2009-2010 school year. Eight of the neighborhood’s 19 elementary schools and one of its four high schools got an F.

Only five Austin elementary schools and one high school received a passing grade of C or better: Catalyst Circle Rock Elementary (C-), Clark Elementary (C-), Leland Elementary (B-), Locke Elementary (B-), Sayre Elementary (B-) and Prosser Career Academy High School (C). No Austin school received an A.

“Those are some chilling, chilling statistics,” said Ald. Ed Smith (28th), whose ward covers portions of Austin. “We’ve got to find some ways to deal with it.”

The Tribune reported on Sept. 9 that an alarming number of CPS schools had been given failing or unsatisfactory grades by school district bosses. The grades – compiled each year by CPS officials based on schools’ standardized test scores, dropout rates, attendance and other factors – came from internal district documents that had not previously been made public.

A CPS spokesman did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Smith called on parents and the students themselves to take their educations more seriously – a step, the alderman said, that would lead to increased opportunities and less violence in Austin.

“Overall, students are just not giving this education the diligence that is needed … They need to realize that they’re not going to come this way again; this is the only opportunity they have,” he said. “We need to find a way to get more parental responsibility, involvement with those children.”

As bad as the scores may sound, there is some question over how meaningful these letters and numbers are. Some experts say CPS’ grading system is misleading.

Donald Moore, executive director of the education nonprofit Designs for Change, said part of the problem is that the grades are based not just on absolute test scores and attendance, but they’re heavily weighted on whether a school’s performance is better or worse than its performance the year before.

That means a school with “fairly high” test scores this year could still get slapped with a C or a D if its scores have dropped since last year, he said.

“I would not put a lot of stock in those grades,” Moore said. “It’s like (CPS is) trying to make the schools look bad.”

Julie Woestehoff, executive director of the parents’ advocacy group PURE, said she, too, finds the scores irrelevant.

“I don’t give a hoot about these school grades,” Woestehoff said. “I am much more concerned about what help is being given to the schools than what label an out-of-touch bureaucrat puts on them.”

Ratings for Austin schools are shown in the chart below; some schools were not rated by CPS and are not included. You may also view the data by clicking here.

School Name

School Type

Enrollment

% Low-Income

2008-09 score (%)

2008-09 Grade

2009-10 score (%)

2009-10 Grade

Armstrong, L Elementary Math & Science

Elementary

144

95.8

33.30%

D-

23.80%

F

Austin Bus & Entrepreneurship High School

High

366

89.1

20.80%

F

Brunson Math & Science Specialty Elementary

Elementary

809

84.4

38.50%

D-

33.30%

D-

Catalyst Circle Rock Elementary School

Elementary

289

83.4

50%

C-

Clark Academy Prep Magnet High School

High

1034

71.9

51.50%

C

40.40%

D

Clark G R Elementary School

Elementary

326

91.7

42.90%

D

54.80%

C-

Douglass Academy High School

High

601

93.5

36.40%

D-

36.10%

D-

Emmet Elementary School

Elementary

550

97.8

31%

F

31%

F

Hay Elementary Community Academy

Elementary

715

86.4

46.20%

D+

43.60%

D

Howe Elementary School

Elementary

541

95

28.60%

F

35.70%

D-

Key Elementary School

Elementary

392

97.7

23.10%

F

23.10%

F

KIPP Ascend Elementary Charter School

Elementary

328

85.7

59%

C

35.70%

D-

Leland Elementary School

Elementary

201

93

56.70%

C-

73.30%

B-

Lewis Elementary School

Elementary

828

92.4

33.30%

D-

23.80%

F

Locke, J Elementary School

Elementary

1302

84

61.90%

C

71.40%

B-

Lovett Elementary School

Elementary

515

90.3

47.60%

D+

21.40%

F

May Elementary Community Academy

Elementary

599

92.3

28.60%

F

26.20%

F

McNair Elementary School

Elementary

590

93.9

23.80%

F

14.30%

F

Nash Elementary School

Elementary

570

91.2

26.20%

F

42.90%

D

Prosser Career Academy High School

High

1466

77.9

52.80%

C

52.80%

C

Sayre Elementary Language Academy

Elementary

551

62.1

81%

A-

73.80%

B-

Spencer Elementary Math & Science Academy

Elementary

902

93.3

40.50%

D

35.70%

D-

Young Elementary School

Elementary

1424

96.6

38.10%

D-

26.20%

F

School Name

School Type

Enrollment

% Low-Income

2008-09 score (%)

2008-09 Grade

2009-10 score (%)

2009-10 Grade

Armstrong, L Elementary Math & Science

Elementary

144

95.8

33.30%

D-

23.80%

F

Austin Bus & Entrepreneurship High School

High

366

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