Titled “Still Left Behind,” the report freely uses terms like “abysmal” to describe the true state of public education in Chicago. . . .
Half of the students drop out by high school, and of those who remain until 11th grade, 70% fail to meet state standards, the report says. In fact, “In the regular (non-magnet) neighborhood high schools, which serve the vast preponderance of students, almost no students are prepared to succeed in college.”
Former Chicago CEO Arne Duncan, now U.S. secretary of education, claimed in 2006 that “the share of CPS students meeting or exceeding state standards had leapt 15 points in one year.” But the test had changed, the report concludes.
. . . while the test employed locally reported that the share of 8th graders meeting math standards grew from 32% to 71% from 2005 to 2007, the national test, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, showed scores effectively flat, moving from 11% to only 13%.
Chicago high school students, whose test wasn’t changed, showed no progress.
A spokesman for Duncan responded that more eighth graders are performing above the state average, and ACT scores increased by a point from 2001 to 2008.
Andrew Coulson of Cato & Liberty doubted claims of progress even before the Civic Committee’s report. Using 4th and 8th grade math and reading score changes on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, he compared Chicago to other large cities around the nation. Chicago students did no better than others in urban districts from 2002 to 2007, when Duncan was in charge.
HuffPo’s Bill Sweetland wants more specifics on how the tests were changed, leading to the illusion of progress.