For more information contact:
Chair, Committee for Fairness in Magnet and Selective School Enrollment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2010
Parents and the Committee for Fairness in Magnet and Selective School Enrollment Challenge Failed Policies to Create Diversity and Excellence in Best Chicago Public Schools
Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) latest plan to extend admission opportunities to the top students attending its lowest-performing public schools is an obvious distraction from the sub-optimal early results of the new admission policy.
Analysis of early results by the Committee for Fairness in Magnet and Selective School Enrollment (CFMSSE) of CPS’s new trial selective enrollment process for high schools suggests that diversity among socio-economic groups was not achieved at several of these schools. CFMSSE predicts CPS’s practices will further negatively impact racial diversity in Chicago’s most elite public schools.
Although CPS has made an attempt to be more transparent with its data, one glaring detail was omitted from its press release. The total number of seats awarded in each tier was not included in the data released; however, published information indicates that Northside Prep awarded only 15% of its slots to students in Tier 1 while it awarded 55% of seats to students in Tier 4. Furthermore, because Chicago is so segregated, the reverse will likely occur at schools on the south side.
CFMSSE was formed by parents and community education advocacy groups last fall in response to CPS’s proposed changes to the selective enrollment school admissions process. CFMSSE advocates a fair and equitable process that ensures racial diversity is achieved at all selective enrollment schools. CMFSSE has made repeated attempts to meet with CPS officials, to provide input and oversight during key stages of the new selective enrollment process, yet no meeting has been scheduled to date.
CPS’s use of the No Child Left Behind federal mandate to populate the schools with students from under-performing schools constitutes an unnecessary measure to meet racial diversity. Since the post-segregation decree was vacated, CFMSSE’s position is that RACE matters. Had CPS officials incorporated race as ONE criterion to diversify schools, a more equitable balance could have been achieved from the pool of students originally qualified to apply to these schools.
“Selective enrollment high schools are not in the business of remediation. The most academically capable students seek the fast-paced, rigorous curriculum that many of these schools offer. Successfully navigating the culture and environment of these schools requires students equipped with well-developed interpersonal skills. It is imperative that students chosen not be set up to fail,” said Cynthia Flowers, President of the Black Star Community PTA and CFMSSE Chair.
Based on historical practices it is apparent that although there is one application process for selective enrollment schools, each school seems to have its own separate, and many times very unequal, admissions policy. For example, at Northside Prep, and Walter Payton College Prep, CPS has historically skimmed the top-achieving students for admittance based on their composite score. This practice has essentially created a class system among the elite schools. According to 2010 early data, Northside Prep only accepted students who scored a minimum of approximately 94-95% or 850 of the possible 900 composite points while Lindblom’s class was formed with students who scored a minimum of 73% or 660 up to 99% of the possible composite points, which provided a wider range of students and abilities.
CPS must address these system inequities and ensure that the same standards are used across the board at all of the selective enrollment schools. CFMSSE proposes that CPS do the following to ensure a wider range of students at each school:
1. Collaborate with an independent oversight taskforce comprised of parents and community members. Seek input from the community for other proposals that provide a fair and equitable admission process at selective enrollment schools during this “trial” year.
2. Raise the standards for selection across the board to require a stanine* of 7 or greater in math and reading for all students who wish to take the admissions exam.
3. Stabilize and unify criteria (race, socio-economics and test score) at each school to create a consistent, acceptable range for admission that is the same for EACH school (75% or better to enter a lottery for their choice school).
Additionally, CFMSSE calls for CPS to commit to increase standards and improve instructional levels at ALL neighborhood-based public high schools and to provide more viable alternatives for every student in the district to achieve academic success.
CPS’s announcement to allocate 100 additional seats in four of its selective enrollment high schools does not help the selective schools that are receiving these students, may hurt the proposed students attending these schools and does not correct the failed policies that necessitated this action.
The Committee will convene its regular scheduled meeting at The Black Star Project on Monday, March 22, 2010, at 6:30pm, and it will present its findings at the Chicago Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, March 24, 2010.
*Stanine is a method of scaling test scores on a nine-point standard scale with a mean of five (5) and a standard deviation of two (2). The Stanine score is usually derived from the national percentile and compares with performance using nine equal units. Scores of 1-3 are considered below average, 4-6 are considered average and 7-9 are above average.