How to improve outcomes for black and Latino boys

If you’re like me and still shopping for school supplies, you’re keenly aware that Tuesday is right around the corner. That’s when most Chicago Public Schools students go back. Besides the annual tradition of looking for a 80 pre-sharpened Ticonderoga pencils for my son, there’s another back-to-school ritual I encounter: the annual release of Chicago Public Schools data. 

If you care about Chicago schools, a lot happened this week. Chicago released a trove of numbers that gave educators reason for cautious optimism, chiefly increased graduation rates — data that was buoyed, in part, by gains from black seniors. Test scores from the NWEA MAP were released, too, and while they were largely flat-over-year, some schools saw gains that will boost their ratings. 

In collaboration with WBEZ 91.5 Chicago, Chalkbeat Chicago published a story and this database so you can easily find how elementary schools did on the NWEA MAP.

Here's a similar tool that lets you search how individual high school graduation rates fared year-over-year. 

And on Thursday, we reported from a stirring speech that schools chief Janice Jackson gave to members of the city’s business community. “I’m not satisfied,” Jackson said of the district’s performance. “I like the incremental growth, but we need to see exponential growth, particularly among our African-American male and Latino male students, if we’re going to meet the goals we’ve outlined in our vision.” Here's a closer look at what she said.

Scroll down for more schools news from the week.

— Cassie Walker Burke, bureau chief, Chalkbeat Chicago

We’re Cassie Walker Burke, Adeshina Emmanuel, and Yana Kunichoff, and we’re rounding up Chicago public education news for the week. Please send any tips, story ideas, or general shoutouts our way:

Week in review

Countdown to a strike: The Chicago Teachers Union formally rejected a neutral fact-finder’s report calling for wage and health benefits primarily on the city’s terms, thus starting a countdown toward a Sept. 26 teachers strike, the earliest possible date teachers could legally walk out. Chalkbeat had the story. 

Lightfoot’s first 100 days: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot celebrated 100 days in office by ticking off accomplishments so far, from ethics reforms at City Council to naming a new school board. But a deal with the Chicago Teachers Union still eludes her. Here are  5 things to know about her latest offer.

$33 million for school police: The Chicago school board passed a measure Wednesday governing how police operate in schools, despite opposing testimony from student activists who attended the meeting. Chalkbeat looked at the contract and the controversy.

A budget, plus a warning: Over concerns of the city’s teachers union over staff allocations, Chicago’s Board of Education greenlighted a $7.7 billion budget on Wednesday that included $820 million for building upgrades. That same day, a civic watchdog issued a report that supported the budget, but that also sounded an alarm about a long-term financial plan and a too-generous teachers contract. Chalkbeat had the rundown.

Accessibility alert: CPS’ new $7.7 billion budget includes more spending to help make schools more accessible for students with disabilities, but advocates argue it doesn’t go far enough. Chalkbeat examined the argument. 

A new building — but no kids? For 15 years, Nashone Greer-Adams has run a thriving preschool and infant center in the fellowship hall of an Englewood church. But in recent weeks, the city has targeted her business, Little Angels, for deep cuts. She’s among several providers questioning sweeping changes in the city’s early learning system. Chalkbeat visited her in Englewood.

Schools chief one-on-one: In an interview with WBEZ 91.5 Chicago this week, schools chief Janice Jackson talked negotiations, curriculum improvements, and that new budget. Here is the transcript. 

Gifted debate: As Chicago implements a new gifted policy, New York is weighing a proposal that would eliminate such a program. The potential decision is sparking intense debate. Here is a rundown. 

Looking ahead

It’s back-to-school time Tuesday! 

The Neighborhood Parents Network will host its annual preschool and elementary fair on Sat. Sept. 14, at UIC Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted St. It’s free for NPN members, $25 for non-members. More than 100 public and private schools will exhibit at the fair, plus there will be sessions for parents about preschool and CPS admissions. Info here.


The national teacher empowerment group TeachPlus this week named its new classes of Illinois policy fellows. The fellows are outstanding teachers from early education and K-12 classrooms across the state who are selected to spend the year developing advocacy, communications, and research skills. Early education policy fellows include Ann Harmon, Caring Hands Daycare and Preschool; Aubry Stapleton, Cadence Education; Barbara Grandberry, Chicago Child Care Society; Cindy Rice, Southern 7 Headstart; Demone Williams, Illinois Action For Children; Emily Bermes, Catalyst Maria Charter School; Enid Hopkins, Chicago Public Schools; Hanni Reutter, Illinois Action for Children; Jared Hennen, Chicago Public Schools; Joanna Dau, Crete-Monee 201U; Jodi Eppenstein, East Aurora School District 131; Jordan Kripton, District 97; Katie Cannady, Acero Schools – Brighton Park; Maddi Bodine, Genoa-Kingston School District #424; Nidia Carranza, Chicago Public Schools; Nora Ryan, Polaris Charter Academy; Phyllis Bliven, Illini Central School; Qiddist Ashe, Washington Elementary; Roisleen Todd, Chicago Public Schools; Shayna Steinberg, Children’s Home and Aid; Terry Jay, Family child care center; and Tracee Hawthorne, The Stepping Stones Group. 

K-12 policy fellows are Adelaida Jiyun Kim, Chicago Public Schools; Alexander Parker, La Grange School District 102; Alexandra Downer, Chicago Public Schools; Amie Reed, O’Fallon 90; Anita Thawani Bucio, Evanston Township High School District 202; Arnetta Thompson, OPESD 97; Betrice Jones, Campaign Unit 4; Bob Chikos, CHSD 155; Carla Jones, Chicago Public Schools; Charity Freeman, Chicago Public Schools; Christa Valencia, Chicago Public Schools; Crysta Weitekamp, District 186; Daisy Lopez, Chicago Public Schools; Ellen Nabeti, Berkeley School District 87; Emily Hogan, Oriole Park School, Chicago Public Schools; Jessica Day, O’Fallon Township High School District 203; Jessica Kibblewhite, Chicago Public Schools; Jessica Kwasny, Community Consolidated School District 64; Jordan Hohm, East St. Louis School District 189; Jordan Lanfair, Chicago Public Schools; Karyn Baldwin, U-46; Keisha Rembert, IPSD 204; Krista Wilson,  ACERO Charter Schools; Lisa Love, Chicago Public Schools; L’Rae Robinson, Chicago Public Schools; Lisset Rosales, Chicago Public Schools; Nicole Vick, Abingdon-Avon CUSD 276; Rachel Brick, Chicago Public Schools; Shayla Ewing, District 303; Staci Ward, Champaign Unit 4 Schools; Tia Taylor, Chicago Public Schools; Victor Idowu, Chicago Public Schools; and William Polasky III, Meridian C.U.S.D 223.

Congratulations all!