December 10, 2011

Report Shows Closing Schools Doesn't Pay

Philadelphia Research Initiative study reveals that school closings do not save districts much money.

School Actions Could Top 100

CPS plans to essentially destroy our neighborhood schools over the next two years. They have given up and given in to false promise of charters, turnarounds, closings, consolidations and co-locations. None of which have worked as promised over the last 15 years.

November 5, 2009

In Altgeld Gardens, Problems Run Deeper than Fenger Violence


Photo by Layton Ehmke/MEDILL

Written by Layton Ehmke, Justine Jablonskaand John Lund
Oct 27, 2009

Altgeld Gardens looks like a war zone. From burned-out CHA structures to potholes deep enough to make streets unpassable, it looks and feels more like war-torn Baghdad than Chicago. If you live in the housing project, off 130th Street on Chicago’s Far South Side, a few things are within convenient walking distance: A wastewater treatment plant, a rolling mountain range of Chicago’s garbage, a polluted river.

Parents, Activists Say Renaissance 2010 Exacerbates Youth Violence

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Produced by Linda Lutton on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 

Parents, activists and some former CPS students are saying that Chicago school officials ignored their warnings that school closings would cause increased violence.
The activists say closing schools forces kids to cross neighborhood boundaries and attend schools where they’re not wanted. And they say they’ve been warning school officials for years at public hearings that closing schools would increase youth violence. Matthew Johnson spoke to reporters before addressing the Board of Education today:

JOHNSON: I was a parent, I spoke out over a year ago. The kids was talking about things like this before it even happened. 'Aw…they gonna bring them over here, we gonna do this to them.' This was shared more than a year ago. I told them that would be a bad move to even make that decision. CPS does not want to hear us.

A separate report out today looks at the educational impact of school closings. It finds that kids whose schools were closed tend to end up in other low performing schools; most students continue the same learning trajectory they were on before their school shut down.

Report: CPS School Closings Neither Help Nor Hurt Learning

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Produced by Linda Lutton on Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A study out today finds that Chicago’s practice of shutting down schools has not helped the vast majority of kids academically.

The University of Chicago report tracked more than 5,000 students who were displaced by school closings. The district has closed dozens of schools because of poor performance or under-enrollment. 

Study co-author Marisa de la Torre says when kids find out their school is being closed, their academics suffer temporarily. 

DE LA TORRE: And the effects after, when they move to the receiving schools, it really depends on the characteristics of the receiving schools they go into.

Most displaced students ended up in other low performing schools. Just 6 percent ended up in significantly better schools; those kids did see improved academic success. 

The study didn’t examine social or emotional effects of school closings on kids. Nor did it examine whether the closings influence school violence. 

Spokeswoman Monique Bond called the study fair, and said CPS will consider the report as it develops future school closing policies.

Photo by Max Klingensmith.

School Closings Don't Impact on Student Performance: Report


Closing underperforming Chicago schools and shuttling the kids who went to them elsewhere has virtually no effect on the kids' learning, according to a new University of Chicago report.

One reason: Most students are just sent to other crappy schools.

Just six percent of kids at schools that were shut down were re-assigned to significantly better schools, the study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research says. Those students did improve academically, suggesting that perhaps the city's best schools should be reserved for students who need them most instead of those with the most clout.

Chicago school officials have argued that closing a low-performing school is sometimes a better solution than trying to fix it. Chicago has closed 44 schools since 2001, though that also includes schools closed for "underutilization," meaning low attendance.

The report's six major findings:

1. Most students who transferred out of closing schools re-enrolled in schools that were academically weak.

2. The largest negative impact of school closings on a students' reading and math achievement occured in the year before the schools closed.

3. Once students left schools slated for closing, on average the additional effects on their learning were neither negative nor positive.

4. Although the school closing policy had only a small overall effect on test scores, it did affect summer school enrollment and subsequent social mobility.

5. When displaced students reached high school, their on-track rates to graduate were no different than the rates of students who attended schools similar to those that closed.

6. The learning outcomes of displaced students depended on the characteristic of receiving schools.

And that last one really seems to be the point. If you're just going to send kids from one bad school to another, closing schools has little academic value.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.
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First Published: Oct 28, 2009 7:30 AM CST