NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Chicago Schools On Probation

October 30, 1996

One-hundred and nine Chicago schools -- nearly one-fifth of the city's total -- have been placed on academic probation. Schools in the nation's third largest school district are placed on probation if fewer than 15 percent of students perform at grade level on national standardized reading tests.

  • At eight of the 38 high schools on probation, fewer than 4 percent of the students were reading at grade level.
  • At one school only 2.5 percent were at grade level.
  • Over the next two months, eight assessment teams will work with the schools to develop new instructional plans and teacher training, followed by a team of current and retired principals who are supposed to help effect the new plans.
  • There are no deadlines for improvement, but if it does not come "eventually," principals can be removed and sent to a desk job at the central office.

As an "absolute last resort," according to officials, the school can be closed.

The principal of one school that was put on probation complained that he should have had more time to explain that although only 12 percent of his students are reading at grade level, nearly 21 percent are performing at grade level in math.

The president of the Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees said that in "the last 15 years or so, something really went wrong."

Source: Don Terry, "One Fifth of Schools Put on Probation in Chicago," New York Times, October 30, 1996.


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