Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials released their school quality rating policy (SQRP) results for the 2019-20 school year, and four local neighborhood elementary schools received the top rating of Level 1+.
Several other schools that enroll local students, including many in the community, also received that rating.
Cassell, Kellogg, Mt. Greenwood and Sutherland elementary schools all received Level 1+ ratings.
Cassell’s rating capped a steady climb to the top. The school in Mt. Greenwood was a Level 1 school last year and a Level 2+ school the year before.
Eileen Scanlan, who has been Cassell’s principal since the 2016-17 school year, said Cassell uses “a complete team approach.”
She credited everyone at the school—faculty, staff, students and families—for the mark.
“Everyone has a role in the success of our students,” Scanlan said. “We have an amazing community.”
Scanlan said two things stood out in the rise of the school’s rating: She encouraged parents to trust their children are following their teacher’s instruction and doing their work appropriately, and for the first time in at least five years, the school achieved an attendance mark of over 95 percent.
She also said the school “rebuilt our curriculum,” forming partnerships with various universities. She hopes students continue to achieve above their grade level.
Kellogg, Mt. Greenwood and Sutherland were also Level 1+ schools last year.
CPS has used SQRP since 2014-15; ratings include Level 1+, which CPS considers “a nationally competitive school”; Level 1, which is “high performance”; Level 2+, which is average; Level 2, which requires provisional support; and Level 3, which requires intensive intervention.
Results are based on the previous school year, and CPS officials said in releasing the results on Nov. 8 that they include “an analysis of a comprehensive set of data including student growth, performance, school culture and climate, graduation rates and progress among priority student groups.”
They said the SQRP goes “beyond traditional academic attainment performance metrics, such as community and parent surveys, college enrollment and persistence at the high school level, and a focus on test score improvement rather than attainment.”
Among other neighborhood elementary schools, Barnard and Wendell Green maintained a Level 1 mark, and Clissold maintained its Level 2+ rating.
Esmond dropped to a Level 2 mark after being named a Level 1+ school last year; Esmond was also a Level 2 school in 2017-18.
Vanderpoel Humanities Academy, a magnet elementary school in Beverly, received a Level 1 mark, improving on last year’s 2+ score.
Keller Regional Gifted Center, a magnet elementary school in Mt. Greenwood, and Lenart Regional Gifted Center, a magnet elementary school in Chatham, remained at Level 1+.
Morgan Park High School, which also offers a junior high, received a Level 2+ mark, improving on last year’s Level 2 status.
The Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, which is in Mt. Greenwood and enrolls local students and students from around the city, maintained its Level 1+ mark, as did Jones, Lindblom and Whitney Young, which are all magnet high schools that enroll local students. Lindblom and Whitney Young also have junior high school programs.
Barbara Vick Early Childhood and Family Center, which serves students with special needs and has a location in Morgan Park, is not given a rating, although CPS officials said it is in good standing.
According to CPS, 78 percent of schools earned the three highest ratings, after 80 percent achieved that mark the year before.
Out of 637 schools that received a rating, 341 schools earned Level 1+ or Level 1 marks, and eight received Level 3 status.
In a prepared statement, officials said “data trends demonstrate steady and sustained school improvement.”
CPS CEO Janice Jackson said the ratings provide valuable information.
“Our annual school ratings provide parents and families with access to data through a consistent and transparent metric that families recognize,” Jackson said. “We will continue to invest in academic supports and initiatives to ensure students have the support they need to build upon the district’s academic success.”
In June, the Chicago Board of Education approved a new SQRP policy for next school year that officials said “was created after two years of extensive principal and educator engagement.”
Changes will include adding the district’s “Learn. Plan. Succeed.” initiative at the high school level, reducing the weight of attendance for elementary schools and adding the 3-8 OnTrack metric, which they said is a “leading indicator for high school success that will help elementary schools better prepare students for high school.”
According to CPS, enrollment dropped by about 5,000 students this year, an improvement after losing about 10,000 students in each of the three previous years.
On the day the SQRP results were released, Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said that the drop in enrollment needs to be addressed and called the SQRP formula “racist.”
He called on Mayor Lori Lightfoot to invest more in working-class families and spread funds around the city.
“Working-class taxpayers in Chicago have paid for skyscrapers that most will never visit and high-end developments that few will ever live in. That appropriation of the city’s wealth from the many to the few has prioritized handouts to wealthy corporations over the most-basic needs of ordinary residents—including the needs of our public schools and the students we serve,” Sharkey said. “The mayor can start by ending the starving [of] our public schools, as the mayor promised as a candidate. That must include reversing racist ‘ranking’ policies like SQRP and SBB—Rahm Emanuel’s toxic student-based budgeting scheme—that puts schools that serve our most disadvantaged students on a downward spiral of student flight and further defunding.
“This city—one of the wealthiest in the world—has the money to keep the mayor’s promises and support the working-class families of color who rely on our public schools and our public infrastructure. What we need is the political will from City Hall to make it happen.”
For complete SQRP results, visit the website at cps.edu.