Look below where we see this happening all across the nation with the teacher's unions breaking from national leader Weingarten.
May 14, 2014 by edushyster2012
A social justice movement is bringing sweeping change to teachers unions
When we last paid a call upon those nemeses of all things excellent, the teachers unions, we found them in a sad and sorry state. Exuding an odeur of mildew and mothballs, even their ability to stifle innovation and lower expectations seemed in doubt. But it turns out that whilst we were reading (every day and everywhere) about the unions’ demise, something rather unexpected, not to mention frankly exciting, has been happening within their ranks. In short: a social justice movement is bringing sweeping change to teacher unions. Will yours be next?
The first stop on our rank-and-file takeover tour: Massachusetts, where this weekend, Barbara Madeloni, an unabashed critic of over testing and privatization disguised as reform, was elected president of the state’s largest teacher union, the 110,000 member Massachusetts Teachers Association. Madeloni, who ran as part of a union reform caucus called Educators for a Democratic Union, is calling for a three-year moratorium on high-stakes testing (including field testing), a full-throated defense of public education, alliances with parents and students and a frank acknowledgement of the state’s deep racial and economic divides. Above all, though, Madeloni represents a challenge to the insider deal-making for which the MTA has long been known. But why let me do all of the talking? Let’s hear a little of the message that not only won over delegates from the MTA’s 400 + locals but inspired 500 members to become first-time delegates just so that they could vote for Madeloni.
Time and again, bad policies and dehumanizing mandates are handed down and our union leadership does not ask us if they are right, but only how best to implement them.
Massachusetts isn’t the only place to see big changes in a big union. In Los Angeles, a reform caucus known as Union Power swept elections this spring to take the helm of the 31,000 member UTLA, the second largest teacher union in the country. On Union Power’s agenda: transforming the UTLA into an active, organizing union that is integrally involved in the larger issues from which education is inseparable--like civil rights, housing, urban development and living wage jobs. And it isn’t just talk. Union power essentially won union power by treating the election as an organizing campaign, rallying members behind a call for the *schools L.A. students deserve.*
AP students will no doubt recognize that the UTLA upstarts were tipping their reform caucus caps to the Chicago Teachers Union. In 2012, the CTU released a white paper called *The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve* that laid out the union’s vision of education reform beginning with this sentence: Every student in CPS deserves to have the same quality education as the children of the wealthy. [Note: I am not actually an advanced student but am cribbing shamelessly from Micah Uetricht’s new book Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity, an invaluable resource for those seeking to understand the origins of the new union reform movement.] Suffice it to say that the similarly titled initiatives are not a coincidence. Both Union Power in L.A. and Educators for a Democratic Union in Massachusetts explicitly modeled their successful elections on the Caucus of Rank and File Educators or CORE, which took over the Chicago Teachers Union in 2010, emphasizing member engagement and partnership with community organizations.
Close readers of informational texts will note that Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, responding to word of the leadership change in Massachusetts, doesn’t exactly seem surprised by the news. That’s because activists within Lewis’ CORE caucus are helping to lead an effort to bring CORE’s same brand of grassroots, big picture change to teacher unions across the country. Under the auspices of the Network for Social Justice Unionism, dozens of social justice caucuses are forming within both NEA and AFT locals. What exactly is social justice unionism? I got a taste of it this spring while visiting Chicago, where seemingly any teacher you talk to can explain how school closures and *hyper accountability* relate to that city’s rapid gentrification, and parents, like those at two Chicago schools that boycotted the ISAT test this spring, see the union as a partner in the fight to keep neighborhood schools alive.
A new distribution center for Pearson Education.
Meanwhile, back in Massachusetts, things just got a whole lot more interesting in edu-land. Barbara Madeloni, or BMad as I call her, made headlines back in 2012 by taking on Pearson over a national licensure procedure requiring students training to be teachers to submit videos of themselves to Pearson rather than being assessed by professors or the classroom teachers with whom the students worked. Students in the high school teacher training program at UMass Amherst, which Madeloni ran, refused to send their videos to Pearson, a protest for which Madeloni would ultimately lose her job. Her new position as president of the Mass. Teachers Association puts her on a collision course with the state’s chief career and college readiness officer, Mitchell D. Chester. Regular readers may recall Chief Chester’s rather unusual dual role when it comes to the state’s new PARCC assessments. To Chester’s multiple hats--the fedora of excellence and the readiness beret—we can now add a third: a Pearson party hat. Last month Pearson landed a contract of *unprecedented scale* to administer, score and analyze the PARCC tests, including here in Massachusetts where field-testing of the tests recently resumed.
Below you see what all US academics know-----these international PISA stats are comparing apples and oranges and pretending they are the same. Clinton neo-liberals and Bush neo-cons do this because these Chinese education structures are neo-liberal education structures and they are using these stats to drive the same neo-liberal reforms in the US.
The same goes for calling an Asian student applying to our US universities necessarily more qualified than an American student by test scores. Asian college grads are mostly from wealthy families that rise from juking the stats just as in US private schools. They are not necessarily brighter---the system measures are completely different.
What makes this worse for the American people is Obama and Clinton neo-liberals are dismantling all of our progressive Federal higher education funding laws to meet this global standard ------moving the US to dumb down its higher education by making community college job training certificates into degrees. Obama says degree attainment is growing in the US------when all that has happened is the definition of what a degree is has been lowered.
MARYLAND LEADS IN LOWERING THE STANDARDS FOR WHAT A DEGREE IS ------BUT THEN, REPUBLICANS ALWAYS HAVE LOW-ACHIEVING EDUCATION POLICY ON THE MIND. THAT'S WHY REAGAN/CLINTON TOOK THE RIGOR OUT OF OUR K-12 IN THE 1990s.
'The Shanghai educational system is held up as a model for the rest of the world on the basis of data on a subset of students that is not representative of the Shanghai student population as a whole'.
PISA Country Rankings Misleading
Brief highlights flaws in the use of international testing to drive educational policy Contact: William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, firstname.lastname@example.org
Martin Carnoy, (650) 725-1254, email@example.com
BOULDER, CO (October 30, 2015) — For 15 years, journalists, advocates and policymakers have cited scores on international tests, such as the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), to conclude that American student achievement “lags woefully behind” other nations, threatening our future and suggesting an urgent need for education reform.A brief published today by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder explores such policy analyses and claims around PISA as well as a second prominent international test, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).
In International Test Score Comparisons and Educational Policy: A Review of the Critiques, Stanford education professor Martin Carnoy focuses on four main critiques of analyses that use average PISA scores as a comparative measure of student achievement.
The ranking is misleading, Carnoy asserts, because:
- Students in different countries have different levels of family—not just school—academic resources;
- The larger gains reported on the TIMSS, which is adjusted for different levels of family academic resources, raise questions about the validity of using PISA results for international comparisons.
- PISA test score error terms—the difference between measured achievement and actual achievement—are considerably larger than the testing agencies acknowledge, making the country rankings unstable.
- The Shanghai educational system is held up as a model for the rest of the world on the basis of data on a subset of students that is not representative of the Shanghai student population as a whole.
Third, there is a conflict of interest arising from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (which administers the PISA) and its member governments acting as a testing agency while simultaneously serving as data analyst and interpreter of results for policy purposes.
Fourth, Carnoy questions the usefulness of nation-level test score comparisons with regard to countries such as the United States with such diverse and complex education systems. The differences between states in the U.S. are so large that employing state-level test results over time to examine the impact of education policies would be more useful and interesting.
Despite such compelling critiques of international testing, Carnoy concludes that these tests will not go away, nor will they stop being wrongly applied to shape educational policy. However, he says, “there are changes that could be made to reduce misuse.” He concludes with five policy recommendations, including reporting test results by family academic resource subgroups of students with different levels of resources.
In a companion report released today by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Carnoy and co-authors Emma García and Tatiana Khavenson provide detailed analyses explaining how and why comparisons using data at the level of U.S. states are more useful than comparing the U.S. with other countries for understanding and improving student performance.
Find International Test Score Comparisons and Educational Policy: A Review of the Critiques by Martin Carnoy on the web at:
These education testing and evaluation policies are from the start trying to standardize what cannot be standardized------individual students in a public education system each having their own learning developmental characteristics. Now, privatizers will tell you---that is why we need to create tiers and segregate according to ability---AND THAT IS WHAT DEREGULATING PUBLIC EDUCATION IS ABOUT. The US has always had K-12 standardized testing once in elementary----again in middle------and finally in high school to give teachers an idea of progress and weaknesses. So, what is this new regime really for? In China, children are tested in pre-school and from that are tracked by government officials into the vocation of their choosing. These children are tested constantly throughout China's K-12 and pressured to compete and push at every turn. All of this pressure makes Chinese families use tons of their disposable income paying for all kinds of after-school corporate education help.. IT CREATES THE PLATFORM FOR SUPER-SIZING MORE AND MORE EDUCATION CORPORATIONS THAT TAKE ALL OF FEDERAL EDUCATION FUNDING FOR K-12. That is the sole reason for these tests.
PARCC and COMMON CORE are purely PR---propaganda
You see, drop the pesky *A,* which stands for Achieve, and the *CC*, which stands for Common Core, and you’re left with *PR,* as displayed in this handy informational assemblage of quotes, purporting to be from educators, parents and students, like Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester, *responding positively to their early experiences with the assessments.*
Below you see yet another corporate charter chain using corrupt and harmful practices just to push children and parents from schools called 'public' and that is how they claim to have higher achievement scores. So, we as a society think bullying young children and undermining their dignity is the right way forward for American education? REALLY????This is what ruthless Wall Street profiteering leads to----and this is only a preview----if left to take hold----our children will be wards of an autocratic state. NYC corporate charter chain queen openly states----DO NOT BRING YOUR EXCUSES OF CIVIL RIGHTS INTO MY SCHOOLS.
Below you hear from PURE----Chicago's parent group against education privatization:
PSAT for 4-8-14: Let Springfield know the truth about charter schools
PSAT for 4-15-14: Mark your calendars – MTAS forum April 29 »
No more discipline fees! Why now, Noble? I think I know.
More than two years after PURE first challenged the Noble Network of Charter Schools’ discipline fees, the franchise has decided to stop charging students for not buttoning a shirt button, sitting up straight, or tracking the teacher with their eyes.
It would be nice to think that Noble was making this change because they’ve finally realized that the policy was dehumanizing and financially harmful to families, and a big reason why a whole lot of students leave their schools.
But the most likely impetus behind this decision is to protect Bruce Rauner’s campaign for governor.
Rauner is already taking some heat over his education policies, which center on privatizing public education; Rauner brags about Noble, which named one of its high schools after him after he provided the school’s start-up funding. The Tribune ran a very unflattering front-page story about Noble’s discipline fees just a week ago. At their first face-to-face meeting three days ago, before the Illinois Education Association, Quinn said he wouldn’t “charterize” public education, a reference to Rauner’s version of school reform.
Of course, the discipline fees are not the only skeletons in Noble’s closet. There’s the equally oppressive staff incentive system, reports of Noble students attempting suicide, and the memo below from the Rauner Charter school itself that essentially bribes a student with his/her own year’s worth of credits to transfer out of Rauner.
People are also not likely to forget charges that Rauner clouted his own child into middle class, progressive Payton College Prep, which is about as far as you can get in CPS from the reform school model he touts for the children of the 99%.
- See more at: http://pureparents.org/?p=21239#sthash.CI7t0KYU.dpuf
IT IS NO COINCIDENCE THAT MARYLAND'S GOVERNOR O'MALLEY AND BALTIMORE'S SARBANES HAVE CONNECTED WITH THIS PENNSYLVANIA CHARTER GROUP.
THE POINT FOLKS IS WHY IS OUR PUBLIC SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION BEING HANDLED BY LOBBYISTS AND COMMITTEES?
In Baltimore, the major education advocacy group, Baltimore Education Coalition BEC---is the Michelle Rhee of education privatization groups and a very neo-conservative Johns Hopkins connected non-profit. When we have public meetings these meetings are generally filled with these charter Teach for America advocates. Baltimore doesn't have one of these Philadelphia School Partnerships yet because unlike Philadelphia---Baltimore citizens have absolutely no voice-----Hopkins simply installs whatever policy it wants.
As we see below yet another education official called a Democrat is tied to a lobbying firm known to be connected with corporate education reform. I listen as in Baltimore people try to pretend our new Baltimore City School Superintendent Thornton is not directly tied to corporate K-12 as well because he is. So, we have Clinton neo-liberals appointing the most corporate of directors to these new committees that are then telling us they are working for the people and children.
PSP below sounds like Baltimore's BEC but more official and Philadelphia's Mayor Nutter is as raging a Wall Street mayor as Baltimore's Rawlings-Blake----WE DIDN'T KNOW THIS MAN HAD A CORPORATE MARKETING TEAM LOBBYING FOR HIM------keep in mind this is all tied to our local public schools where no citizen has a voice.
'Jerry Jordan, head of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said that PSP’s support for Green was probably a sign of charter-friendly policies to come. “When we look at their values and their positions on the conversion of schools to charter schools, and other corporate reform models, that certainly tells us where he probably will go,” Jordan said'.
PSP used lobbying firm to promote Green as SRC chairBy Bill Hangley Jr. on Feb 20, 2014 12:52 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia School PartnershipMark Gleason is executive director of the Philadelphia School Partnership.
As Bill Green takes the helm of the School Reform Commission, new details have emerged about the process that brought him to the job.
Officials at the Philadelphia School Partnership say that their hired consultants from one of the state's most influential lobbying firms, Wojdak & Associates, actively urged legislators in Harrisburg to support Green as SRC chair during the run-up to his approval by the state Senate.
“Our advocacy around the SRC was that the city needed a leader who is focused on reform and has the skills and experience to be effective,” said Mark Gleason, the PSP’s executive director. “Based on Bill Green’s vision and experience, we supported him as a candidate who could be a great SRC chair.”
Green, a Democrat nominated by Gov. Corbett, a Republican, says he was not aware of PSP’s effort on his behalf. “I didn’t realize anybody was being paid to lobby,” he said. “But … I’m happy for any support I got.”
Green strongly denied that PSP’s effort would give the organization any undue influence.
“The only people I owe for my position," Green said, "are the governor of Pennsylvania and 44 state senators" who voted to confirm him. “Nobody who’s seen my service in City Council would ever suggest that I do anything but what I believe in.”
PSP, a nonprofit group that uses philanthropic dollars to support school innovation, most frequently in charter schools, has long been on the record as supporting Green for the position, along with Corbett’s other SRC nominee, Farah Jimenez.
However, the fact that PSP’s lobbyists worked legislators on Green’s behalf was a surprise to city officials, union officials, and the head of the state’s largest charter school coalition, who did not learn of it until after Green’s confirmation.
“We did not know PSP was using their lobbyist for this,” said Lori Shorr, head of Mayor Nutter’s office of education. “We did not use our lobbyist either for or against either of the governor’s appointees, nor have we ever used our lobbyist around SRC appointments.”
Jerry Jordan, head of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said that PSP’s support for Green was probably a sign of charter-friendly policies to come. “When we look at their values and their positions on the conversion of schools to charter schools, and other corporate reform models, that certainly tells us where he probably will go,” Jordan said.
Lawrence Jones, head of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, said he wasn’t sure what to make of the news.
“There’s a lot of times where you have a candidate who’s endorsed by a group,” he said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that person is going to work exclusively for those who endorsed him.”
PSP and Green: Aligned on some policies, not all
Green said he doesn’t agree with all of PSP’s positions. But the new SRC chair and the nonprofit, many of whose major donors are staunch supporters of charter schools and vouchers, share some territory both philosophically and in terms of policy.
In the big picture, neither Green nor Gleason believes that it’s absolutely necessary to maintain a traditional, unionized school district.
Asked whether it would be possible to run an urban district without a unionized workforce, Green said, “If it’s less expensive to do so, we have to. ... I don’t have a preference for what delivery method a child gets an education in.”
Similarly, Gleason said charter operators could, in theory, run all the schools in Philadelphia – but that it’s more practical to try to accommodate the existing unionized system. “I think it’s possible to do it completely with charters,” Gleason said, “but I don’t think it’s the fastest way.”
When it comes to policy, Green and the PSP are closely aligned on at least one goal: the need for dramatic changes to the teachers’ contract that would allow union-staffed schools to replicate the practices of the best charter schools.
The union, both Green and Gleason maintain, must agree to allow principals to select their own staffs, extend the school day and year, and establish other building policies that wouldn’t be allowed under the current PFT contract.
Gleason said that PSP wants to see that contract resolved by April or May at the latest, so that the District can plan for next year – and thinks it would be appropriate for Green to use the SRC’s “special powers” to impose work rules.
“If [Superintendent] Bill Hite and his team don’t know how much money they have to spend until July 1st, they’re going to have to punt on a lot of big decisions until the following academic year,” Gleason said.
Green is less sure about the timetable – “I haven’t had enough of a briefing from Bill and the labor team to know,” he said – but he’s passionate on the subject of revising the contract and has said he’s willing to consider using the SRC’s “special powers” if an agreement can’t be reached.
The extent of those special powers, if invoked, would likely face a court challenge from the union. In the past, District officials have expressed doubts about their authority to impose terms on the teachers' union. In 2012, Pedro Ramos, then chair of the SRC, failed in a Harrisburg lobbying effort to expand the SRC's authority to unilaterally change union work rules.
Though Green and Gleason agree on the urgency of revising the teachers’ contract, they part ways on some important aspects of “turnaround” policies for struggling schools.
Gleason has said that charter turnarounds offer the best bang for the buck. In a recent op-ed in the Philadelphia Daily News, he wrote, “Dollar for dollar, it's the most efficient way to dramatically improve neighborhood schools.”
Green disagrees, saying that District-run turnarounds could be cheaper than charter-run turnarounds, and just as effective – but only, he said, if the union’s work rules are changed to allow more charter-like practices.
Reforms tied to funding
Green and Gleason also share some ideas on the basic strategic approach to the challenge of increasing state funding. Before demanding more from Harrisburg, both say Philadelphia must do more itself.
Gleason said one of his hopes is that Green and the SRC are able to convince City Council to adopt the extension of a 1 percent sales tax, approved by the legislature, which would send the District $120 million annually.
“The funding ball is squarely in City Council’s court,” Gleason said, adding that Harrisburg is unlikely to increase its own contribution until legislators see Council act.
(Council and the mayor are discussing putting aside half that money for pension reform and raising money for schools with a new cigarette tax, but Harrisburg has balked at that.)
Green, for his part, reiterated that revising the teachers’ contract is the linchpin of any strategy to increase funding. Harrisburg won’t budge, he said, until Philadelphia can show that it has a plan to allow District schools to replicate successful charter school policies, unfettered by union work rules.
In fact, asked about the many complaints that have emerged in the wake of the budget cuts – bare-bones staff, two-week waits to see counselors – Green said simply: “There’s not more money. There’s not more money. No more money is coming.”
The only way to get more funding, Green said, is for the union to agree to concessions on work rules and seniority.
“We have to be able to compete on a level playing field with [charter schools like] Mastery and ASPIRA,” Green said. “And until we can, there’s no point in asking for money, because there won’t be any. Until there is a competitive equivalency, in terms of what we can do [in schools], how are we going to convince people that the money will be put to good use? Especially in Harrisburg?”
One strategy he is not likely to follow is to start criticizing Corbett’s budgets.
“The governor is my appointing authority. I would not ever say or do anything publicly that would potentially harm him,” Green said. “I’m very grateful for the appointment.”
An agenda of his own
And if some of Green’s ideas match the PSP's, he chafes at the idea that he’s supporting their agenda.
“I came first,” laughed Green, who released his first education policy paper in 2010, the year PSP was founded.
He insists that he came by his education priorities honestly, through hard work. “They are based on a lot of research by my staff and others,” Green said. “They’re not something I invented around the kitchen table.”
Nonetheless, despite his reputation as an independent thinker, news that PSP put its time and money behind Green raised concerns for more than one observer.
“What this means is that the PSP, based on its money and political influence, pretty much can have their way with the SRC,” said Ron Whitehorne, a retired teacher and activist with the Philadelphia Coalition for Public Schools (PCAPS). “The elites call the shots, [and] parents, students, teachers and the community are left to protest.”
Walter Palmer, a pioneer of the city’s charter movement and head of one of its fastest-growing charter schools, said the question about PSP’s support for Green was “to what extent that will translate into them making decisions in closed meetings, where they will influence the superintendent, the charter school office, the SRC, [and] the Great Schools Compact.”
The advocacy group Parents United for Public Education said in an email that PSP’s “secretive” use of lobbyists was “troubling,” particularly because Green’s confirmation process included no opportunities for public comment or testimony.
“By hiring paid lobbyists, PSP gained access to legislators when that same voice was specifically denied to the public,” the group wrote. “That is a serious problem no matter how you look at it.”
But Parents United’s Helen Gym said that despite those concerns, she has been encouraged by some of the work the group has done with Green.
“He's been extremely receptive around our analyses of budgets,” Gym said. “I appreciate his independence on a number of issues. … It's too early to definitively say what type of SRC chair Bill Green will be and how he'll choose to exercise the authority he has.”
Helen Cunningham, a PSP board member, said the organization backed Green because of his political savvy and his strong ideas on policy and because he was the only qualified candidate who publicly expressed any interest in the job. PSP does not expect him to favor charters over traditional public schools, she said. “It is our expectation that he will be fair with all kinds of schools,” she said.
And Zack Stalberg, head of the watchdog group the Committee of Seventy and a longtime observer of the city’s political scene, cautioned against reading too much into the PSP’s support, citing Green’s independent streak and his commitment to effective policy.
“Beware of simplifying this,” Stalberg said. “Bill will do what he feels like doing. The Green family have never fit easily into anybody’s pocket.”
The American people and especially Democratic voters finally understood how captured US political parties were with the election of Obama. Not only did the US media withhold vital information about Obama's history and important affiliations during the 2008 elections that would have informed voters----but so too did the national Democratic Party and that happened because Clinton neo-liberals have complete control of our DNC.
What we would have seen is Obama in a Chicago that led the nation in installing all of this Race to the Top privatization and his roll in what media simply called community organizing. What we thought was progressive organizing and what was actually happening was corporate organizing for these corporate K-12 policies. Below you see how Chicago, after 10 years of this mess started a strong push against these education reforms----they are one of the strongest activists in the nation today. I encourage cities like Baltimore where absolutely know knowledge of these reforms is made public and no activism exists----well, very little----to follow PURE----Parents United for Responsible Education ----as parents having fought longer share their battles.
Below is a really long article about one city moving against what we all know to be Federal violations of Constitutional education rights and all cities should be moving this forward.
It is too long to format!
December 8, 2010
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
500 W. Madison Street, Suite 1475
Chicago, IL 60661
Discrimination Complaint under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Filed by: Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE)
39 S. La Salle Street, Suite 617 Chicago IL 60603
telephone 312/491-9101 pure@pureparents,org
on behalf of parent members of our organization
Against: the Chicago Public Schools
125 S. Clark Street
Chicago IL 60603
Parents United for Responsible Education (“PURE”) is a citywide non-profit membership organization
dedicated to improving the Chicago Public Schools. PURE is a resource for public school parents,
providing information, support, training, & advocacy, generally without charge. While there are many
groups working on school reform in Chicago, PURE has a special role in focusing on issues from the
parents' point of view. PURE's membership is multiracial, multi-cultural and economically diverse.
In 1999, PURE filed a discrimination complaint against the Chicago Public Schools (“CPS”) with the
U. S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) (Complaint #05001012), alleging
ongoing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, and sex resulting from its elementary
promotion policy (“the Policy”). OCR carried out an investigation and complaint resolution process
which resulted in several changes in the Policy by August of 2000. (PURE complaint. OCR resolution
letters, final 2000 policy- Attachments 1-3).
PURE has continued to monitor the Policy over the years, and has raised fresh complaints from time to
time, including one against the academic preparatory centers where CPS sent overage retained
elementary school students. These segregated centers were closed soon afterwards.
Unfortunately, ten years later, CPS continues to flunk thousands of children every year using the
Policy, despite the overwhelming evidence that such flunking does not work and disproportionately
harms African-American and Latino students. (Current Policy 09-1028-PO2, Attachment 4).
Six years ago, the Consortium on Chicago School Research published the major study, Ending Social
Promotion: The Effects of Retention.1 The Consortium did an exhaustive study of the Policy, using
state-of-the-art statistical methodologies. At the conclusion of this study, the Consortium recommended
PURE OCR complaint, 12/08/10, p. 2
that CPS stop retention immediately, stating,
“Did retaining these low-achieving students help? The answer to this question is decidedly no....If
an expensive policy is simply not working, as concluded in this report, it would make little
sense to invest more money in it rather than to redirect that money toward alternatives.”2
Although on notice that the Policy undermines academic achievement, increases by 26% the likelihood
that a retained student will drop out by age 173, and has a severe disparate impact against African-
American and Latino students, CPS has willfully persisted, imposing this injurious, discriminatory
Policy on a mass scale.
We have made every effort to work with CPS to ameliorate the bad effects of this policy, to no avail.
We file this complaint today because, as parents, we can no longer stand by silently while children
continue to be harmed. Furthermore, no school system should perpetuate policies that have been proven
to increase and even accelerate the student drop out rate, especially at a time of national commitment to
address this alarming situation. Finally, when we are experiencing a local, state and national economic
emergency which has resulted in the layoff of thousands of teachers, raised class sizes, and forced
cutbacks in other key school resources, there can be no excuse for a government entity to perpetuate a
wasteful, extravagant program that research has shown offers no benefit to the children it purports to
help. We estimate that the Policy costs CPS an average of at least $100,000,000 annually.
It is time to replace the CPS elementary promotion policy with one that works, is not harmful or
discriminatory, and will actually serve to improve teaching and learning. The remedies we propose will
not take CPS back to social promotion, which also did not work, but which was actually more effective
than retention. We believe it's time to move forward, cognizant of the mistakes of both social
promotion and retention. CPS must establish a policy that proactively addresses student's needs, instead
of retroactively punishing them.
CPS falls under the jurisdiction of the Office of Civil Rights because it receives federal education
Background of the Policy
Since 1996, CPS has flunked more than 100,000 3rd, 6th, and 8th grade students whose standardized test
scores were below a certain district-defined cut-off point on an annual, nationally-normed standardized
test. During the first years of the Policy, CPS used a specific cut score on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills
as the sole pass-fail barrier for students in these grades.
In 1999, PURE filed a discrimination complaint against the Policy with the U. S. Department of
Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR). As part of a resolution agreement with OCR, CPS added an
automatic review prior to summer school and a parent's right to request a review of any non-promotion
decision. The single cut score was replaced by a “score band.” Based on where the students' individual
PURE OCR complaint, 12/08/10, p. 3
reading and math scores fell in relationship to these score bands, classroom grades and attendance were
also considered as factors in the promotion decision. In subsequent years, these criteria and the way
they were used changed nearly every year. The current policy (09-1028-PO2) is based on student
scores on a narrow set of questions, called the SAT-10, which is embedded in the annual state reading
and mathematics compliance tests given to all 3rd through 8th grade students in Illinois.
What hasn't changed is the fact that thousands of students continue to be flunked every year.
I. PURE believes that the Policy harms and does not help students. Specifically, we believe:
· National research predicted the failure of the Policy; research in Chicago confirms the Policy's
failure and the damage it causes.
· Repeating a grade does not improve student learning. In fact, it results in weaker long-term
· The Policy has made the dropout rate worse.
· Flunking causes emotional harm to children.
II. CPS has failed to fully implement several important agreements it made with OCR in the 1999
resolution, which has resulted in a lack of parent input into the retention decision, and a lack of
accountability for the Policy's discriminatory impact.
III. The policy has a disparate impact on African-American and Latino students.
IV. The Policy violates state and national assessment standards and federal legal and civil rights
principles. Rather than monitor carefully the impact of retention, as required by the Policy itself, CPS
has failed to “maintain all testing data by race and ethnicity of test-takers” in order to “annually review
this data...to ensure that there is no disparate impact based on race or ethnicity created by the operation
of the policy.” CPS also fails to make this information available to parents, as the Policy requires.
V. The cost of this failed Policy cannot be justified, especially in these tight economic times. Wasting
at least $100,000,000 annually cannot be justified when CPS is drastically cutting critical services to
students and laying off hundreds of teachers.
VI. The Policy is not justified by any compelling educational reason, and other, cost-effective
alternatives are available which do not have the same discriminatory impact and are more likely to
improve teaching and learning.
THE POLICY RESULTS IN SYSTEMIC VIOLATIONS OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF
AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINO STUDENTS.
PURE OCR complaint, 12/08/10, p. 4
I. The policy harms and does not help students
As a matter of common sense, it might appear that the Policy helps children, giving them needed
opportunities to master material that eluded them in the regular course of study. Decades of research
show that this is a dangerous fallacy. Voluminous evidence proves the Chicago retention program to
have disastrous consequences. This program can easily be stopped, with immediate mitigation of the
damages it inflicts, and major savings to address the urgent needs of the school system. Instead of
repeating the same failed program over and over, CPS must heed the clear evidence of its need to
develop strategies that effectively address the educational challenges of its most severely at-risk
National research predicted the failure of the Policy: More than 40 years of educational research has
found that flunking students is risky, can have harmful effects, and leads to higher dropout rates.
(D)ocumenting the real effects on children of retaining them a grade or more has been among the most
heavily researched topics in education over the past thirty years. The collective verdict from hundreds of
studies 'firmly indicates that retaining students...has negative effects on students' achievement in later
grades, has negative effects on student' attitudes toward school, their self-esteem and their social
adjustment; dramatically increases the likelihood that students will drop out of school; is
disproportionately applied to racial and ethnic minority students; and is strongly associated with
criminality and incarcerations during the students' adult years.' 4
(W)hat does research from across the country say about retention? This research indicates that few
practices have such negative effects. Researchers use a process called “meta-analysis” to combine data
from a number of studies on a particular topic, like retention. Meta-analysis indicates
that retention is either harmful or ineffective (Holmes, 1989). Students retained are a quarter of a
standard deviation worse off on educational outcome measures than comparable students who are
promoted. These negative effects are even stronger for academic achievement alone. When children of
the same age were compared, the retained group lost .45 standard deviation in achievement on average.
Evidence indicates that failing a grade is strongly tied to dropping out of school later. Being retained is
as strong as low achievement in determining whether a student drops out or graduates. For example, in
Austin, Texas, repeating a grade increased the chances of a white female dropping out by 17% and
increased an African American male's chances of dropping out by 38% (Grissom and Shepard, 1989).
This is a very powerful negative effect. 5
Research in Chicago confirms the Policy's failure and the damage it causes: The conclusion of the
Consortium on Chicago School Research in its landmark study, Ending Social Promotion, could not be
Did retaining these low-achieving students help? The answer to this question is decidedly no. In the third
grade, there is no evidence that retention led to greater achievement growth two years after the
promotional gate, and in the sixth grade, we find significant evidence that retention was associated
with lower achievement growth.6 (emphasis added)
PURE OCR complaint, 12/08/10, p. 5
The Policy has made the dropout rate worse: The Consortium found that students CPS flunked were
25% more likely to drop out by age 17. A multi-year study of CPS's student promotion policy found
that flunking students increased their chances of dropping out by age 17 by 25%, and the chances of
their dropping out by age 19 by 29%. The study concluded that
students with very low achievement were even less likely to graduate than before the policy was
implemented....Racial gaps in school completion also grew after implementation of the (promotion)
gate....In addition, the very high dropout rates among students already old-for-grade who failed the
eighth grade test suggest that the combined effects of the gates at third, sixth, and eighth grade may be
more adverse than that of the single gate at the eighth grade. 7
Recent data from the State of Illinois school report cards show that African-American CPS students are
30% more likely to drop out, and Hispanic CPS students are 35% more likely to drop out than white
students (CPS dropout rates by race, 2003-2008, Attachment 5).
Flunking causes emotional harm to children: There is ample scientific evidence that flunking can
increase student stress levels and lower student self-esteem and sense of efficacy as learners.
As teachers and administrators are pressured to implement policies designed to "end social promotion,"
students are threatened with retention if they do not meet academic standards or perform above specified
percentiles on standardized tests. It is unclear if this threat is effective in motivating
students to work harder. However, this pressure may be increasing children's stress levels regarding
their academic achievement. Surveys of children's ratings of twenty stressful life events in the 1980s
showed that, by the time they were in 6th grade, children feared retention most after the loss of a parent
and going blind. When this study was replicated in 2001, 6th grade students rated grade retention as
the single most stressful life event, higher than the loss of a parent or going blind (Anderson,
Jimerson, & Whipple, 2002)(emphasis added). This finding is likely influenced by the pressures
imposed by standards-based testing programs that often rely on test scores to determine promotion and
Analysis of multiple studies of retention indicate that retained students experience lower self esteem and
lower rates of school attendance, relative to promoted peers (Jimerson, 2001). Both of these factors are
further predictive of dropping out of school.8
In our 1999 OCR complaint9, we included the case of an African-American student who was retained.
His mother wrote that he
has experienced and sustained serious emotional distress because of these multiple retentions and the
extreme stress he now feels about taking the (test). He has been made to feel inferior and as if he is a
failure. He has cried, made up excuses not to go to school, felt extremely nervous, and dreaded the day
of the test. He is only in fourth grade, and had the rest of his schooling ahead of him, yet I am afraid that
with this test as a barrier, he has been and will continue to be denied the opportunity and support he
needs to be a motivated student, to be instructed in a high-quality curriculum, and to progress towards
graduation, college, and a successful career.
PURE OCR complaint, 12/08/10, p. 6
The parent of a Latina 14-year old CPS student wrote this:
My daughter was harmed by the district's promotion policy in several difference ways: (1) she was not
able to graduate with her friends, (2) she began to believe that she did not deserve to graduate with her
classmates despite her excellent grades and good attendance (3) she was deeply hurt because she was
well-known and respected by teachers and students alike for her intelligence, yet her (test) score in
reading meant that she would not be able to graduate from the 8th grade along with her friends, (4) she
did not sign up for the summer logic and science program at Daley College which she had participated in
last year because she was told she had to attend summer school to re-take the test in August, 1999. Also,
the experience left her with a permanent fear of having to go through a similar experience again during
her high school years. This fear was definitely a factor which played a role in (my daughter's) decision to
attend (a private school) rather than a CPS high school.
In its 2004 study of principal, teacher, and student response to the retention policy, the Consortium
found that “with the exception of high-risk eighth graders, there appeared to be declines in students'
sense of efficacy toward their schoolwork from 1997 to 2001.”10 More stories about the effects of highstakes
testing on students can be found in the chapter, “Crime and Punishment: How the Accountability
Machine Hurts Schoolchildren” in Peter Sacks' book, Standardized Minds.
II. CPS has failed to fully implement several important agreements it made with
OCR in the 1999 resolution, which has resulted in a lack of parent input into the retention decision,
and a lack of accountability for the policy's discriminatory impact.
Parents' right to request a review severely limited: The 1999 Policy revision included a parental right
to ask for a waiver of the summer school decision in June, and a review of a non-promotion decision
after summer school. A letter from OCR specified that CPS must make this information “absolutely
clear” to parents.
Unfortunately, this has not been the case. See the minimal information provided in the 2009-2010
School/Parent Guide to the Elementary School Promotion Policy (Attachment 6). Parents calling
PURE's office after having received a notice of mandatory summer summer school or retention report
that they were not aware of their right to an appeal or review, or are given conflicting information.
PURE has taken the initiative to offer a guide of sorts to parents for this process on our web site
(http://pureparents.org/index.php?blog/show/Help_for_parents), but we can't reach all of the affected
Furthermore, even when parents learn about their right, they have a very difficult time getting anyone
at CPS to listen. PURE has had to intervene for some parents just to get their telephone call returned.
Finally, even when parents are able to make contact with CPS, their input is essentially ignored. CPS
staff involved in reviewing the student's records generally do not meet face-to-face with the parent and
do not appear to take the parents' information into consideration (see, for example, Attachment 7).
PURE OCR complaint, 12/08/10, p. 7
Inadequate disparate impact report: As part of the 1999 resolution with OCR, CPS included this
clause in the Policy: “The district will maintain all testing data by race and ethnicity of test-takers and
shall annually review this data in regard to students who are promoted and retained pursuant to the
requirements of the policy in order to ensure that there is no disparate impact based upon race or
ethnicity created by the operation of the policy. All such data shall be made available to a parent upon
request." (emphasis added)
On February 12, 2009, PURE sent a FOIA request for this information. CPS failed to respond to our
request, despite the Policy's assurance that the report would be provided to parents upon request. We
finally turned to the Attorney General for help.
After the intervention of the Attorney General PURE finally received a brief report, “Promotion and
Retention Rate by Race and Year for Students Enrolled in Summer School 2002-2008” (Attachment
8). This report was apparently the full extent of information CPS collected in response to Section V of
After reviewing the report, we wrote a letter to CEO Huberman, expressing the following concerns
about the report:
The report is incomplete in that it fails to include “all testing data” as required by the
The data seems very clearly to reflect a disparate impact on African-American and
Latino students, whose retention rates are far higher than that of white or Asian students.
The report includes no analysis of the data, which would seem to be essential in any
effort to ensure that there is no disparate impact.
Subsequent efforts to reach out to CPS officials fruitless: Mr. Huberman responded in a letter dated
June 23, 2009, that he felt the Policy “significantly supports a child's ability to succeed at the next
grade level” (Attachment 9). Mr. Huberman did invite PURE to submit any ideas for improving the
policy, which we did (Attachment 10, which incorporates all documents referenced therein).
We had a half-hour meeting with Mr. Huberman on November 10, 2009, to present our proposal in
person. He asked for more information about certain aspects of the proposal including non-graded
classrooms and Chicago's Child Parent Centers. We provided this information. We made a similar,
though brief (given the 2-minute rule) presentation to the Board of Education in 2009, and sent a
similar letter to former Chief Education Officer Barbara Eason-Watkins, requesting a meeting with her
on the subject before her retirement in June, 2010. We received no further communication from Mr.
Huberman, the Board, or Dr. Eason-Watkins.
We recently received a request for a meeting with two officials in the office of P-12 Management,
which oversees the Policy. We are pleased with this overture but skeptical that it will lead to timely or
significant Policy changes.
PURE OCR complaint, 12/08/10, p. 8
III. The Policy has a Discriminatory impact on African-American and Latino
Our data reflect that the Policy results in educational decisions that have an adverse impact on African-
American and Latino students (Charts, Attachment 11).
According to the Chicago Public Schools report, “Promotion and Retention Rate by Race and Year for
Students Enrolled in Summer School 2002-2008,” African-American students were retained at a rate
five times that of white students, and Latino students were retained at a rate 2.2 times higher in 2008.
Our pie charts show that African-Americans constitute 48% of the CPS student population in 3rd, 6th
and 8th grades, but 68% of those required to attend summer school, and 74% of those retained. 40% of
all CPS 3rd, 6th, and 8th grade African-American students were required to attend summer school,
compared with only 7% of Asian and 12% of White students. 16% of all African-American 3rd, 6th and
8th grade students were retained, compared with only 2% of Asian students and 4% of white students.
Latino students were sent to summer school at a rate of 1.46 to 1 as compared with white students, and
were retained at a rate of 1.37 to the rate of retained white students.
According to 2008 State of Illinois school report cards, African-American students in Chicago were 1.3
times more likely to drop out than white students, and Hispanic students were 1.35 times more likely to
IV. The Policy violates state and national assessment standards and federal legal
and civil rights standards
CPS uses student scores on the 3rd, 6th, and 8th grade reading and mathematics SAT-10 test, which is
embedded in the ISAT, to determine whether or not a student will be promoted. According to the test
makers themselves as well as state and federal education agencies, this practice is improper, violating
professional testing standards. The policy ignores better, sounder, less discriminatory means of
identifying students who need the most help.
The SAT-10 was not designed to determine student promotion status. Using a test for a purpose for
which it was not designed is considered an improper use by the test makers, the nationally-accepted
standards for the testing profession, the state of Illinois, and the U. S, Department of Education.
The test makers, Harcourt Assessment, state in their Guide for Organizational Planning,
Another misuse of standardized achievement test scores is making promotion and retention decisions for
individual students solely on the basis of these scores. This is an undesirable practice for a number of
reasons. Perhaps the most important reason is that national standardized achievement tests are not built
to serve this purpose...they cannot provide complete coverage of any local curriculum.11
PURE OCR complaint, 12/08/10, p. 9
In a letter written to PURE on May 11, 2009, Marcilene Dutton, Deputy General Counsel, Illinois State
Board of Education, stated:
Using ISAT scores as the basis for student promotion and retention is not an ISBE policy or practice.12
A January 27, 2009 e-mail from Judith Steinhauser, representing ISBE, to parent Wade Tillett, stated:
the purpose of ISAT, its reliability and validity authenticated by a staff of psychometricians, is to
calculate school accountability which is reported to the federal government as Adequate Yearly
Progress. It is not the intention of the state to use the test for anything else.
The USDE manual, “Taking Responsibility for Ending Social Promotion,” states:
When a statewide or districtwide test is being used to determine student promotion, the state or district
must be able to provide professionally acceptable evidence that the test is valid and reliable for the
purpose for which it is being used. If a state or district chooses to use a test as a principal criterion for
decisions about student promotion, the test must be designed for this use and there must be evidence that
it is appropriate to use the test as a sole or principal criterion.13
CPS improperly uses the SAT-10 as a sole criterion for making promotion decisions, a practice
opposed by the test maker, state officials, and national experts.
The makers of the SAT-10 state:
Achievement test scores may certainly enter into a promotion or retention decision. However, they
should be just one of the many factors considered and probably should receive less weight than factors
such as teacher observation, day-to-day classroom performance, maturity level, and attitude.14
The ISAT “professional practices” manual lists under “Prohibitions: Actions that must be avoided
when reporting test results”:
• No person or organization shall make a decision about a student or educator on the basis
of a single test. 15
The National Research Council, in their major study on student assessment, states this principle clearly:
(A)n educational decision that will have a major impact on a test taker should not be made solely or
automatically on the basis of a single test score. Other relevant information about the student’s
knowledge and skills should also be taken into account.16
Standard 13.7 of the Standards for Psychological and Educational Testing reads as follows:
In educational settings, a decision or characterization that will have a major impact on a student should
not be made on the basis of a single test score.17
PURE OCR complaint, 12/08/10, p. 10
The Code of Fair Testing Practices in Education prepared by the Joint Committee on Testing Practices calls on
test users to
Avoid using a single test score as the sole determinant of decisions about test takers. Interpret test scores
in conjunction with other information about individuals.18
CPS has established multiple barriers to promotion, while falsely contending that they are multiple
measures. After PURE filed a discrimination complaint against the policy in 1999, CPS began to
include classroom grades and attendance in the promotion decision. But instead of using these other
criteria as true multiple measures, which testing experts recommend, the policy uses them as multiple
It is critical to understand the difference between multiple barriers and multiple measures. Under
multiple barriers, the student must meet all of several listed criteria. Under multiple measures, also
called multiples sources of evidence, the various measures are not used separately, but are combined,
and a decision is based on the evidence in its totality, not used separately. True multiple measures may,
for example, use a weighting system to reflect the proportionate usefulness of different assessments.
Alternatively, results may be added together using a point system to come up with a total number, or
one or more positive results may compensate for, or “outweigh,” a less positive outcome.
As noted above, the test makers themselves say that the test
should be just one of the many factors considered and probably should receive less weight than
factors such as teacher observation, day-to-day classroom performance, maturity level, and attitude19
In fact, in the CPS promotion policy, each measure operates as a single deciding factor, each of
which on its own can be used to retain the student. In other words, CPS students must meet the cut
scores on the district-wide assessment (DWA) and grade standards and attendance requirements, in
order to be promoted without attending summer school (if at all).
Test scores alone are explicitly used in several of the policy's high-stakes decisions. For example,
eighth-grade students are banned from graduation with their classmates if they do not meet all of these
measures. Students whose DWA scores were below the cut off point must pass one end-of-summerschool
test in order to be promoted to the next grade.
Other useful information such as student attendance, academic performance throughout the school year,
and faculty recommendations are readily available. These factors are indeed considered when a student
successfully exceeds the cut-off score, but then only in a negative sense; low attendance or a failing
grade will also bar that student from graduation or send him or her to summer school.
PURE OCR complaint, 12/08/10, p. 11
Stated simply, students can be hurt by their attendance and academic performance, but these measures
cannot help them. They are multiple barriers, not multiple measures, which means that each one of the
measures is a single high-stakes measure.
CPS does not follow its own requirements to monitor the effects of the Policy for any discriminatory
V. The cost of this failed Policy is not justified when CPS is drastically cutting
critical services to students and laying off teachers.
Flunking students results in an additional year of schooling. At the current CPS-estimated per-pupil
annual expenditure of some $11,000, CPS spent nearly $100 million to retain 9,000 children in 2008.
The current promotion policy generates other costs as well. Prof. House reported that “In Chicago the
summer schools cost $25 million in 1996, $34 million in 1997, and $42 million in 1998. Chicago's
extra teachers and after-school programs for retained elementary students cost at least $12 million.” 20
Of course, 10 years later, those estimates would have to be nearly doubled.
The Consortium expressed concern about this high cost:
In the end, the practice of retention is monetarily and academically costly. It involves investing in an
extra year of schooling. It makes students overage for grade, and as a result, increases the risk of school
dropout, an outcome with a substantial set of social costs. Instructionally, high-stakes testing leads to
substantial costs in time on test preparation, and it directs resources away from early intervention. If an
expensive policy is simply not working, as concluded in this report, it would make little sense to
invest more money in it rather than to redirect that money toward alternatives (emphasis added). 21
Yet, five years after this report as written, CPS continues to throw good money after bad, to the tune of
over $1 billion ($1,000,000,000) since the program began in 1996.
Enormous cost to society: The cost of failed education policies is even more mind-boggling. Cutting
the dropout rate in half would yield $45 billion annually in new federal tax revenues or cost savings,
according to the Columbia University cost-benefit report. The study breaks the savings down this way:
The average lifetime benefit in terms of additional taxes paid per expected high school graduate
· The average lifetime public health savings per expected high school graduate (achieved
through reduction in Medicare and Medicaid costs) is $40,500. For black females, the
highest users of these programs, the figure is $62,700.
· The average lifetime crime-related cost reduction per expected high school graduate is
PURE OCR complaint, 12/08/10, p. 12
· Being a high school graduate is associated with a 40 percent lower probability of
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); a 1 percent lower probability of
receiving housing assistance; and a 19 percent lower probability of receiving food
stamps. For college graduates, the probability reductions are 62 percent, 35 percent and
54 percent. 22
To justify its practices under the Policy, with their severe disparate impact and their enormous costs –
both immediate and long-term – CPS bears a weighty burden. Its evidence does not suffice.
VI. The Policy is not justified by any compelling educational reason, and costeffective,
less discriminatory alternatives are available.
Some assert that standardized tests scores are the only “objective” measures of student progress, and so
are educationally necessary. Education experts disagree. In 2004, the Joint Organizational Statement on
NCLB was developed which is currently supported by 151 education, civil rights, and civic
organizations across the nation. The Joint Statement calls for the use of multiple measures which could
include classroom, school, district and state tests; extended writing samples; tasks, projects,
performances, and exhibitions; and selected samples of student classroom work, such as portfolios.
Gathering this rich information would enable states, communities, schools, parents, teachers and
students to know more about student learning and better improve schools. In addition, using such highquality
information could allow states to test less frequently, as many states did before NLCB.23
Student learning deficiencies are not identified or addressed soon enough; current interventions are
Our children need more from CPS. Chicago's results on the National Assessment of Educational
Progress (NAEP) have been mixed at best, and show that our schools are not doing enough, even in
comparison to other large urban school districts. The Consortium reports that many CPS students are so
far behind by the third grade that it is a huge task to help them catch up. They state that the average low
performing CPS student
started substantially behind the average CPS student in first grade, and the achievement gap for these
groups widened most significantly between first and third grade, before CPS's promotional policy took
effect. Waiting until third or sixth grade to identify these students and intervene seems a nonjudicious
use of resources. 24
They further recommend:
school systems must invest in developing effective early assessment, instruction, and intervention
approaches that identify students who are not moving forward and provide appropriate supports.25
In addition to improved assessment practices, other sound, effective alternatives to flunking and
high-stakes testing exist and could be implemented using the savings from ending retention.
PURE OCR complaint, 12/08/10, p. 13
There are many sound, research-based strategies for addressing our children's critical educational
needs. A good summary of these ideas can be found in the report, “North Carolina Early Grade
Retention in the Age of Accountability,” based on a review of research and of successful practices of
North Carolina schools with good records of low retention rates and high achievement levels:
· Start early.
· Implement interventions in the context of the regular classroom setting.
· Coordinate and communicate with teachers and staff.
· Involve parents.
· Provide after school support.
· Offer enriched summer activities, presenting review material in new ways.
· Emphasize literacy.
· Provide high-quality professional development to all staff on working with at-risk students.
· Connect with community resources.
· Provide “can-do” leadership. 26
A similar set of alternative strategies is offered by the Columbia University’s Center for Benefit-Cost
Studies of Education at Teachers College:
In general, the study’s authors identify several features that characterize effective school
interventions: small-size schools; personalization; high academic expectations; strong counseling;
parental engagement; extended time; and competent and appropriate personnel. They note that one
of the interventions, First Things First, has the largest economic benefits relative to costs and
combines all these features. Other interventions ….include Perry Preschool Project, Chicago Parent-
Center Program, class size reduction, and increasing teacher salaries.27
Unfortunately, despite the opposition of PURE and others over the years, CPS phased out the Child
Parent Centers, which had a strong track record of success giving low-income children of color a great
foundation for their education that persisted over time.28
PURE OCR complaint, 12/08/10, p. 14
Remedies we request
1. Because retention has not worked in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and has
harmed children, PURE recommends that CPS stop flunking students.
2. Because single high-stakes test scores are not good indicators of student progress,
PURE recommends that CPS implement an accurate, sound assessment system using
high quality formative and summative assessments in all subjects, as well as other indicators to provide
evidence of improved student learning and school quality. These assessments must be based on state
standards and the local curriculum, assess higher-order thinking and other 21st century skills, and
provide multiple opportunities and approaches for students to demonstrate their learning. The primary
use of these assessments should be to improve instruction and enable teachers to better address each
student's strengths and needs.
3. Because too many children are not receiving the help they need, PURE recommends
that schools create a personal learning plan (PLP) for any child determined to be behind or at
risk of falling behind academically. CPS's role would be to assure that schools have adequate resources
to implement each PLP, that PLPs are being implemented, and that they are effective. Parents would be
involved in both the development of the PLP and its implementation. PLPs would be monitored at least
quarterly and adjusted as needed.
4. Because we are wasting between $100 and $200 million annually on flunking
students, PURE recommends that CPS redirect those resources toward:
· implementing high-quality early childhood education programs such as the now-defunct Child
· strengthening parent involvement,
· creating student Personal Learning Plans,
· implementing appropriate evaluations for special education services and increasing high-quality
special education services,
· expanding the use of teacher aides, augmenting supports for English language learns (CPS has
curtailed instruction for bilingual students),
· redesigning summer school programs so that they better meet students' needs,
· reducing class sizes in the most at-risk schools, retaining experienced teachers with demonstrated
ability to serve high-risk students, and
· replicating other proven programs and practices.
Julie Woestehoff date
PURE Executive Director