Charter schools with failing grades still featured at quality schools fair

Charter schools with failing grades still featured at quality schools fair
Teachers, principals and other staff plug charter schools at the New Schools Expo in 2010. This year, one-third of schools being featured at the expo have been rated "Performance Level 3" by the district, the lowest grade possible. WBEZ/Linda Lutton
Charter schools with failing grades still featured at quality schools fair
Teachers, principals and other staff plug charter schools at the New Schools Expo in 2010. This year, one-third of schools being featured at the expo have been rated "Performance Level 3" by the district, the lowest grade possible. WBEZ/Linda Lutton

Charter schools with failing grades still featured at quality schools fair

A high-profile Chicago schools fair today is supposed to show off quality new schools, many of them charters.

The New Schools Expo at Soldier Field is sponsored by the school district and run every year by New Schools for Chicago, formerly the Renaissance Schools Fund, a group that has raised more than $30 million from Chicago’s business and civic community to open new charter schools and improve education by “radically shaking up the public school system.”

Schools set up tables with photos and marketing materials to try to entice students to enroll. Principals and teachers offer freebies like candy or balloons to kids. Thousands of parents typically attend the annual event.

But a WBEZ analysis of the more than 100 new schools featured at the expo this year shows 34 percent of them are rated Level 3 by the district, the lowest grade given. Schools receiving the designation include campuses run by some of the largest charter networks in the city, including UNO and the Chicago International Charter School. This is the first year the district has graded charters on the same scale as traditional schools.

In recent years, the district has closed neighborhood schools rated Level 3, citing poor performance.

New Schools for Chicago director Phyllis Lockett said she doesn’t agree with the way the district calculates performance levels. She said low-scoring charter schools featured at the expo do a good job at things that aren’t necessarily measured—like getting kids into college. And Lockett said the new schools fair has a broader goal: to change parents’ thinking about schools.

“The purpose of the expo is really to give parents first and foremost this notion and the sense that they do have a choice, that they should do their research,” Lockett said.

She said parents will receive guides that help them figure out what questions to ask as they shop for schools.

While Lockett takes issue with how CPS calculates its school performance levels, her organization has built a campaign around them: the “123 Campaign” is meant to raise awareness of the 123,000 CPS students “stuck in failing schools,” the New Schools website said. The 123,000 figure is the total enrollment of students in Level 3 schools.

Lockett said she didn’t know that’s where the 123,000 figure came from. She said she got the number from the school district.

“We’ve just been quoting what the former superintendent had reported,” Lockett said.

Chicago Public Schools has been advertising the New Schools Expo to parents with robocalls and postcards sent home in students’ backpacks. Even the “hold” music on the CPS phone system has encouraged parents to “learn all about some of Chicago’s great school options, including charter schools, by attending the New Schools Expo on Saturday, December 8….”

Asked to comment on WBEZ’s finding that one-third of the schools featured at the expo are Level 3 schools, district spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler wrote that the expo is “a fair for parents to consider school options.”

She said district officials will also set up a table for parents interested in learning about district-run schools such as magnets, selective enrollment schools, military schools or new IB programs. The district used to run a fair featuring those options, but that was cancelled due to budget constraints.

Ziegler said CPS does not spend any money on the New Schools Expo.

The following are all schools featured at the New Schools Expo 6.0 that have been assigned a performance level by Chicago Public Schools. Additional schools will also be featured at the expo that are too new to be assigned a performance level.

An asterisk (*) indicates that the performance level is based on preliminary data. Source of New Schools Expo 6.0 schools: New Schools for Chicago. Source of performance levels: CPS.

School Name School Type Performance Level
ACADEMY for GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
ACE TECH CHARTER HS Charter/Contract Schools Level 2*
AMANDLA Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
BETHUNE AUSL Schools Level 3
BRADWELL AUSL Schools Level 2
BRONZEVILLE LTHOUSE CHTR CAMPUS Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
CATALYST CHTR - CIRCLE ROCK Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
CATALYST CHTR - HOWLAND Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
CHGO ACAD ES AUSL Schools Level 1
CHGO ARTS CONTR HS Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
CHGO TALENT CHTR HS Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
CHICAGO ACADEMY HS AUSL Schools Level 1
CHICAGO VIRTUAL CHTR CAMPUS HS Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
CICS - LLOYD BOND Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
CICS ELLISON Charter/Contract Schools Level 3*
CICS-AVALON /SO SHORE Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
CICS-BASIL Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
CICS-BUCKTOWN Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
CICS-IRVING PARK Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
CICS-LONGWOOD Charter/Contract Schools Level 3*
CICS-NORTHTOWN Charter/Contract Schools Level 2*
CICS-PRAIRIE Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
CICS-WASHINGTON PARK Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
CICS-WEST BELDEN Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
CICS-WRIGHTWOOD Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
COLLINS ACADEMY HS Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
CURTIS AUSL Schools Level 2
DENEEN AUSL Schools Level 2
DODGE AUSL Schools Level 2
DULLES AUSL Schools Level 2
EPIC ACADEMY HS Charter/Contract Schools Level 3*
ERIE CHTR CAMPUS Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
FRAZIER CONTR Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
FULLER Burnham Park Elementary Network Level 3
GALAPAGOS CHTR CAMPUS Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
HARVARD AUSL Schools Level 3
HOPE CONTR ES Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
HOWE AUSL Schools Level 2
JOHNSON AUSL Schools Level 2
KIPP ASCEND CHTR CAMPUS Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
LEARN CHTR BUTLER Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
LEARN CHTR EXCEL Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
LEARN CHTR-CAMPBELL Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
LEGACY CHTR CAMPUS Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
MORTON AUSL Schools Level 1
NATIONAL TEACHERS AUSL Schools Level 2
NKRUMAH CHTR Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
NOBLE- Chicago Bulls Charter/Contract Schools Level 2*
NOBLE-Gary Comer Charter/Contract Schools Level 1*
NOBLE-Golder Charter/Contract Schools Level 1*
NOBLE-Muchin Charter/Contract Schools Level 1*
NOBLE-Noble Charter/Contract Schools Level 1*
NOBLE-Pritzker Charter/Contract Schools Level 1*
NOBLE-Rauner Charter/Contract Schools Level 1*
NOBLE-Rowe-Clark Charter/Contract Schools Level 1*
NOBLE-UIC Charter/Contract Schools Level 1*
NORTH LAWNDALE CP-CHRISTIANA Charter/Contract Schools Level 2*
ORR HS AUSL Schools Level 3
PERSPECTIVES CHTR - LEADERSHIP ACADEMY Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
PERSPECTIVES CHTR CALUMET MIDDLE Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
PERSPECTIVES CHTR CALUMET TECH Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
PERSPECTIVES CHTR IIT Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
PERSPECTIVES CHTR JOSLIN Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
PHILLIPS HS AUSL Schools Level 3
POLARIS CHTR CAMPUS Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
PROLOGUE CONTR HS Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
PROVIDENCE CHTR-BUNCHE Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
ROWE Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
SHABAZZ CHTR-SHABAZZ Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
SHABAZZ CHTR-SIZEMORE Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
SHABAZZ-DUSABLE LEADERSHIP Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
SHERMAN AUSL Schools Level 2
SOUTHSHORE Skyway Elementary Network Level 3
TARKINGTON AUSL Schools Level 2
TEAM HS Southwest Side High School Network Level 3
UNIV OF CHGO CHTR-DONOGHUE Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
UNIV OF CHGO CHTR-NKO Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
UNIV OF CHGO CHTR-WOODLAWN Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
UNIV OF CHGO CHTR-WOODSON Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
UNO CHTR - MAJOR HECTOR P.GARCIA Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
UNO CHTR - PFC OMAR E.TORRRES Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
UNO CHTR - SPC DANIEL ZIZUMBO Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
UNO CHTR-DE LAS CASAS Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
UNO CHTR-FUENTES Charter/Contract Schools Level 2
UNO CHTR-MARQUEZ Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
UNO CHTR-PAZ Charter/Contract Schools Level 1
UNO CHTR-TAMAYO Charter/Contract Schools Level 3
UPLIFT HS North-Northwest Side High School Network Level 2
URBAN PREP-ENGLEWOOD Charter/Contract Schools Level 3*
URBAN PREP-WEST Charter/Contract Schools Level 3*
VOISE HS West Side High School Network Level 3
YOUNG WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP CHARTER Charter/Contract Schools Level 2*

Charter/Contract schools are free, publicly funded schools that are privately run with private employees. AUSL schools are run by the Academy for Urban School Leadership. They are publicly funded but privately managed using public (CPS) employees.