Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – Week of August 26, 2019

Jamelle Newsome named a Distinguished Teacher

By the St. Louis American

“Jamelle Newsome was named a Distinguished Teacher by the Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago, one of the leading public charter school systems in America. He is a 2001 graduate of Maplewood Richmond Heights High School and a St. Louis native. Distinguished teacher aims to reward, celebrate and learn from Noble’s most effective teachers. Among other benefits, each Distinguished Teacher will receive $10,000 annually for as long as they remain teachers at Noble.”

CPS one-year dropout rate at all-time low, says officials


“Chicago public school are seeing more students finishing the school year. Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday that the CPS district’s one-year dropout rate reached an all-time low. Improvements show six percent of students dropped out in 2019, compared with 11.2 percent in 2011. “CPS’ teachers, support staff and principals are transforming the lives of our young people, helping them to recognize their potential and inspire more opportunities for their future,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “The record-low one-year dropout rate is a reflection of our collective commitment to ensure that every student, regardless of zip code or household income is on a pathway not only to graduation, but also to a viable future post-graduation.”

Mayor, Chicago Public Schools to celebrate students’ record-high 78.9% graduation rate


“More Chicago students are getting their high school diploma than ever before. The Mayor’s office along with Chicago Public Schools will celebrate students’ progress Thursday as they recognize the increased graduation rate of 78.9 percent- a record five-year high for Chicago students. According to a press statement, The City Club of Chicago, Mayor Lightfoot and CPS CEP Dr. Janice K. Jackson will hold an official announcement to commemorate the students’ success. Mayor Lightfoot is scheduled to speak on the progress at luncheon on Thursday ahead of her State of the City address. The mayor’s office says African-American students have consistently shown the biggest improvement over the years.”

CPS test scores see slight gains after years of larger growth

By Nader Issa by the Chicago Sun-Times

“Newly released test scores show slightly improved district-wide math and reading markers for Chicago Public Schools students, though the scores stagnated compared to big gains in previous years. During the last school year, 61.8% of elementary school students met or exceeded the national average in reading, and 56.7% did so in math. Those numbers were up by 0.4% and 0.1%, respectively, from the previous year. In a press release, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson touted the latest scores as record highs. “As the district prioritizes investments in schools across the city, CPS students are once again reaching new academic heights and showcasing their vast potential,” Jackson said in the statement. “Chicago students continue to exceed expectations with their academic progress,” Lightfoot said. “As we embark on a new school year, we know the significant role our teachers, principals and support staff play in driving academic growth and success amongst our students.” Since 2013, the percentage of students at least meeting national reading levels has risen by 16.2%, while there’s been an increase of 11.6% in students who meet national math levels.”

The Education of Janice Jackson

By Marcia Froelke Coburn for Chicago Magazine

“Jackson has inherited major problems: declining enrollment, schools that are drastically over- or underpopulated, the Illinois State Board of Education imposing a monitor on the district’s special education program after finding that CPS had delayed and denied some services to students, plus an investigative report by the Chicago Tribune that showed CPS had mishandled sexual abuse cases for over a decade. What’s more, her two predecessors left under a cloud of scandal — one of them is in federal prison for taking kickbacks. Jackson is the district’s seventh CEO in 10 years. She is also one the first in decades who is an educator. Jackson started teaching social studies at South Shore High School in 1999, while earning a master’s in education at Chicago State University. “At the time, South Shore was one of the lowest-performing schools in the state.” Jackson remembers stuffing student papers in her backpack to grade at home and being told by another teacher to forget it — that if she couldn’t get something done during work hours, not to bother. It was as if William Bennett’s assessment had become self-fulfilling. “I didn’t like these approaches that said, ‘The kids live poverty so we shouldn’t have standards.’ Until then, I hadn’t realized that so many black people were having a different experience in education than I had had. I started feeling I should be in CPS [leadership], that I had gifts and the courage to try to do something.”