Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: October 31 – November 6, 2020

Noble Forward: A DREAM Come True

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Online learning for some Noble alum has long been part of their plan to finish what they’ve started. In 2013 when Sarai Romero graduated from Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy, she had already obliterated obstacles and made history for her immigrant family. A Dreamer, Sarai earned private scholarships from local philanthropists like John Rowe, former CEO of Exelon and naming donor of Rowe-Clark; she used those funds to enroll in Dominican University. Soon, Sarai would again be challenged with unforeseen obstacles that threatened to end her pursuit of a college degree; until she found another path. “I did not know my limitations as an undocumented immigrant until I was in high school. I was brought here at age three, I didn’t realize I wasn’t born here,” Sarai explained, “when I took Drivers Ed, my friends were getting their licenses and my teacher told me I didn’t qualify because I wasn’t a US citizen. It didn’t really hit me until my Junior year when DACA became a thing and I attended a presentation. My teacher asked me why I didn’t tell anyone, and it was all thrown on me at once that I had to find a way to pay for college.”


An Open Letter to Our Undocumented/DACAmented Students

By The Noble Network of Charter Schools

“The message below was shared directly with Noble students and alumni earlier today from our Office of DREAMer Support.An Open letter to our undocumented/DACAmented students: Dear students, In a time of national uncertainty, we want to take this opportunity to share our support for our undocumented and DACAmented students. We write to you not as your mentors, but as fellow dreamers. Regardless of what the election outcome is today, we want to reassure you that Noble and the Office of DREAMer Support is here to assist you and your family in any way possible. While we still don’t have all the answers to how this election will impact immigrant communities, we know one thing for certain: we are all in this together. Noble Network of Charter Schools has also taken proactive steps to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone regardless of immigration status. Noble does not allow federal immigration officials into our buildings without a warrant, nor do we maintain any central repositories of student or personnel data that indicate immigration status. We understand that your immigration status may present unique challenges to your educational experience, which is why our team has pieced together a comprehensive list of resources for you and your family. You can access the folder using this link. Today more than ever, we believe that Black Lives Matter. We believe that no human being is illegal. We believe that trans rights are human rights. We are here for you.”


More than 2,250 Noble Students Registered as New Voters

By Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Noble is committed to partnering with our communities to make sure we are all prepared to vote and be heard on election day. Ahead of the state’s online voter registration deadline, students and staff from the Noble Network of Charter Schools registered more than 2,250 students, families, and staff to register to vote ahead of the election.  “I feel honored and in a way and excited. I am kinda anxious. I am anxious about voting. Go vote! Make sure to vote because your opinion matters,” expressed Davisha Dodds a senior at DRW College Prep who registered to vote this year. Noble schools are not able to engage in any sort of political action or support any political candidates, and no portion of the voter registration process implied any sort of endorsement for or against any candidates or potential candidates. This year, Noble partnered with When We All Vote, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that is on a mission to increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American.”


Even as fall term ends, Chicago Public Schools is still mum on a reopening date. Despite rumors, it won’t happen Monday, teachers union says.

By Hannah Leone for the Chicago Tribune

“Thursday marks the final day of student attendance for the virtual fall quarter, and Chicago Public Schools has yet to publicly announce a date for a return to classrooms, beyond its plan to offer in-person learning to students in prekindergarten and special education clusters sometime before 2020 is over. CPS also has not publicly released the outcome of intent-to-return surveys submitted by parents of eligible students. Regardless of rumors circulating, they won’t be going back on Monday, the first day of the second quarter, CTU President Jesse Sharkey said in an update to members Wednesday. “Although some principals continue to tell staff otherwise, Chicago Public Schools officials told us during bargaining today that they do not plan to reopen school buildings to returning students and staff on Monday,” Sharkey wrote.”


Pandemic prompts state to keep grades the same on ISBE report card; ‘We do not have the usual data on school culture and climate’

By Steve Sadin for The Chicago Tribune

“Schools across Lake County received the same grade as they did a year ago on the Illinois State Board of Education annual report card, and the coronavirus pandemic is to blame. The board released its annual report card Friday with extensive data on all the state’s public schools and districts, including those in Lake County, keeping all schools with the same designation received a year ago because critical information was not available. Evaluating data was a challenge after Gov. J.B Pritzker closed all schools in March to curb the spread of COVID-19, and learning became remote across the state. While the majority of schools in Lake County taught youngsters through computer screens, others used written packets.”


Is a 96% attendance rate a bright spot in a pandemic stricken school year? Not exactly, as remote learning skews annual report card.

By Jessica Villagomez for The Chicago Tribune

“The Illinois State Board of Education released its annual school report card Friday as students across the state adjust to remote and hybrid learning this school year. “This year, COVID-19 had a significant impact on the data we normally collect for the report card,” Carmen Ayala, state superintendent of education, told news media Tuesday. One example is an increase in the attendance rate. Schools reported higher attendance, even as they closed their doors completely. With districts deciding on their own when a student should be considered absent, the vast majority logged high attendance rates — even with the disruption of the pandemic.”


Illinois Report Card: State reports 88% graduation rate, but some other accountability measures blank

By Samantha Smylie for Chalkbeat Chicago

“The four-year graduation rate in Illinois held steady at about 88%, according to the 2020 report card released Friday. State officials cautioned against comparing this year’s rate to the previous year, however, because some requirements were relaxed amid the pandemic. In May, Gov. J.B. Pritzker waived the constitution exam and physical fitness test for eighth graders and high school students. Since local school districts were not able to administer state assessments in the spring, there is not enough data to determine learning achievement gaps, which is a serious concern after months of remote learning.”


Illinois high schools see huge spike in number of AP exams taken since 2018, new data shows

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Last year’s graduating class of Illinois high schoolers took thousands more Advanced Placement exams than their predecessors and passed those tests at higher rates, newly released data shows. The increase built on two years’ worth of gains in AP testing, which state education officials credited to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for budgeting for fee waivers to reduce the cost of AP exams for low-income students. That decision earned the governor national honors from the College Board, which administers AP exams. In the AP exams category, the 2020 class took 278,400 tests through all four years of high school, a 14,500 increase over 2019 graduates. Students passed a little over 195,000 of those tests, a 70% rate, a 2% increase.”


CPS Announces All Schools ‘Prepared For Safe Occupancy’ Following Air Quality Assessment; Plans $8.5 Million Purchase Of HEPA Purifiers

By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

“Chicago Public Schools officials on Wednesday announced that a recent evaluation of every school campus has determined the vast majority of classrooms are “prepared for safe occupancy” as the district plans to have some students return to in-person learning during the second quarter. CPS also announced it will spend $8.5 million to provide more than 20,000 HEPA air purifiers for every classroom. “Nothing is more important than creating the safest possible in-person learning environments for our students and dedicated staff, which is why we are going beyond public health recommendations to place HEPA air purifiers in every classroom,” CPS Chief Executive Officer Janice Jackson said in a statement. “Combined with critical mitigation efforts, such as mask-wearing, readily available hand sanitizer, signage and social distancing, the district’s plan supports a safe return to school.”


CPS Athletes Will Not Be Playing Basketball Next Month, Despite Green Light From IHSA In Defiance Of Gov. Pritzker Amid COVID-19 Surge

By CBS Chicago

“The Illinois High School Association this week said it planned to go ahead with high school basketball practices last month in defiance of Gov. JB Pritzker’s new guidance that places the sport in a high-risk category – but Chicago Public Schools athletes will not be taking to the court. In a letter to CPS parents Thursday, CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya D. McDade and Executive Director of Sports Administration David Rosengard said girls’ and boys’ elementary and high school basketball will be postponed until further notice.”