• Joanne Jacobs

Low-scoring school is better — but not good

Locke High has improved in its 10 years as a Green Dot charter school. But it remains a very low-performing school, report Kyle Stokes and Carla Javier for KPCC.

In 2007, a majority of teachers voted to “kick out the L.A. Unified School District’s leadership and turn the school over to a charter network called Green Dot Public Schools,” they write.


Math teacher Eric Strong leads the “See A Man, Be A Man” mentorship program for African-American males. Photo: Kyle Stokes/KPCC


Alexander Russo wrote about the takeover in Stray Dogs, Saints and Saviors: Fighting for the Soul of America’s Toughest High School. 

Students are showing strong academic growth, argues Green Dot CEO Marco Petruzzi. For example, Locke students improved their reading levels by the equivalent of five to six years in a three-year period, 2013 to 2016, on a nationally normed test. However, “too often, we see students entering ninth grade reading at fifth-, fourth-, even third-grade levels.” A student might improve dramatically and still not score as proficient.

While test scores are higher, they are only slightly better than neighboring schools that also enroll low-income black and Hispanic students, report Stokes and Javier. The school’s 55.9 percent graduation rate is one of the lowest in the district.

“The school’s problems with violence and graffiti have subsided,” write Stokes and Javier. Recently, Green Dot has revived Locke’s marching band, once the pride of the school.

Chicago Public Schools is phasing out Hope College Prep High in the Englewood neighborhood, reports WBEZ.

Ten years ago, it touted a robust curriculum, a basketball team and debate team that both earned championship titles, and served more than a thousand students.  Today, that number is down to just 90 kids — across four grades.

Hope began its slide in 2005, when it was forced to give up admissions standards and take students from a low-performing school that had closed, reports Sarah Karp for WBEZ.

Faced with competition from new charter and district schools, Hope did not add special programs.

Of 638 CPS students in Hope’s attendance boundary, only 36 go to Hope, reports Karp. Forty-two percent have chosen other district-run schools, 33 percent go to charters, 17 percent to alternative schools and 8 percent to selective, test-in schools.

“Half of Hope’s students are in special education, and a quarter are homeless,” reports Karp. Test scores are very, very low.

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