Report: Lowest-scoring teachers concentrated in poorest schools

Catalyst Chicago – Kalyn Belsha

“Teachers who score the lowest under the district’s relatively new evaluation system are overrepresented in schools with the highest concentration of poor students, according to a new report that looks for the first time at how teachers’ scores correlate with characteristics such as student poverty, teacher race and school climate. Issued Tuesday by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research, the report shows that 30 percent of teachers with the lowest observation scores teach in the district’s highest-poverty schools, while just 9 percent teach in lower-poverty schools. Conversely, more than a third of the best-scoring teachers work in lower-poverty schools, and just 6 percent are in the district’s poorest schools.”(more)

Chicago Schools Issue Call for New Charters to Serve Traumatized Students

The 74 Million – Naomi Nix

“These days there are a lot of things that could top Chicago Public Schools’ 2016 wish list. Money, for starters, to help with that teensy weensy $1 billion deficit that may lead to scrapping thousands of teachers jobs. Or maybe political leverage to carry into the negotiating room with the Chicago Teachers Union, which is threatening to again strike over its new contract. But last month, the 400,000-student school system put out a press release asking for something altogether different: more charter schools. The school district, which under state law can collect charter school applications each year, is looking for education leaders to open charter schools as early as the 2017-18 school year. What stands out in this year’s request are the specific types of schools the district is courting, including ones specializing in educating traumatized students and English Language Learners. A crop of new charters won’t help ease longstanding criticism in the city that the schools drain resources from the traditional public school system, but CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said they will give kids well-deserved options.”(more)

Coding education rare in K-12 schools but starting to catch on

The Chicago Tribune – John Keilman

“Like most high school students, Wells Community Academy junior Darius Taplet doesn’t know much about computer programming, a skill that is increasingly seen as a ticket to the good life. But the Chicago teen has one advantage that peers in wealthier school districts don’t share: All Wells students, whether or not they seek out the opportunity, get the chance to code. “They said you could build your own game and I said, ‘Great! Maybe I can do (game design) in the future,'” Taplet, 17, said Wednesday after creating a simple Star Wars-themed program during a schoolwide coding event. “When I built it, it was amazing. I never realized it would come out like that.” Computer science is one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative sectors of the American economy, and qualified workers are so scarce that half a million jobs remain unfilled, according to the federal government. Yet most students still go through school without any exposure to the subject.”(more)

What happens when college and career readiness starts in kindergarten?

E-School News – Genevra Walters

“Ask a third grader what she wants to be when she grows up and she might say “a doctor.” Adults know that anyone with a doctorate is technically a doctor, but for a young mind their idea of what a doctor is or does is narrow. It is only through repeated exposure to careers that students begin to expand those definitions and begin to think about their futures. At the Kankakee School District in Illinois, where I graduated from and now serve as superintendent, it’s a process that begins as early as preschool. Research shows that the earlier and more often you talk with young children about careers, the more students will envision themselves going to college and working in those fields. Without the consistent conversations, a student may never pursue secondary education or have a solid career at all.”(more)

How Can We Harness the Power of Learning Beyond the School Day?

KQED News Mind/Shift – Katrina Schwartz

“Discussions of learning tend to focus on what happens in schools, but many students are learning lots of important skills outside of school through extracurriculars like sports, music, art, politics or any other passion. Often students don’t get recognition for the learning they pursue on their own, and many times they don’t even see their passion as learning at all. The Chicago City of Learning project is trying to meet that need by helping connect youth to resources that support their interests and provide validation for the hard work that goes into learning outside the academic setting. Chicago City of Learning started in 2013, growing out of a prolonged teachers strike that prompted the city to think about how it could connect its youth to non-school constructive activities that they might be able to get credit for later. At that time, city official realized there was no centralized place for youth to discover opportunities related to their interests and no way for the city to keep track of the hundreds of organizations offering programming. Chicago City of Learning was born as a mayor’s initiative, but was soon taken over by partner organizations.”(more)

Computers far from solution to education’s problems

The Chicago Tribune – Bill Mego

“When the Soviets launched their first sputnik, or satellite, the idea was to scare the pants off President Dwight D. Eisenhower by showing him that the USSR could drop a bomb anywhere on earth. What they actually did was to supercharge scientific education in the United States like nothing else ever could. Naperville Community High School, for example, upped its science classes and began a truly innovative extracurricular program for a limited number of students called Science Seminar. And the University of Illinois began a teaching program called Plato, using what were then advanced computers. Plato stood for Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations and was far different from the teaching methods of Plato the man. At the time, however, it was thought that the introduction of computers in the classroom would revolutionize education, that computers were the future of teaching. And always would be, as the joke goes, because we’re still saying the same thing today. The trouble is that we haven’t made it work. It was recently found, for example, that students in online charter schools do much worse than students in even mediocre regular schools.”(more)