Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – Week of September 2, 2019

Best Public Schools 

By Chicago Magazine

Elite Schools, Prized by Parents and Politicians Alike, May Actually Hurt Disadvantaged Students More Than They Help, New Research Shows

By Kevin Mahnken for The 74

“According to new research, Chicago’s diversity measures haven’t succeeded in lifting academic performance for those they were designed to help. Two recent studies — one released as a working paper and another soon to be published in an academic journal — show that students at Chicago’s selective enrollment high schools see no improvement in their test scores. In fact, academic records show that they earned worse grades and GPAs than their peers who were rejected from the schools…the second piece of research may go a long way toward providing the explanation. Just released as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, and awaiting peer review, the study was conducted by MIT economists Parag Pathak and Josh Angrist, who originally coined the term “Elite Illusion.” The pair, along with co-author Román Andrés Zárate, aimed to use Chicago’s selective high schools to examine the question of academic “mismatch”: the theory that students admitted to elite institutions through affirmative action aren’t truly prepared for the academic rigors they encounter there. In conducting their own analysis of academic results, Pathak and Angrist found no evidence of mismatch; whether or not students benefited from affirmative action, they saw no gains in their math and reading scores at elite high schools, the authors write. Rather, they found that the selective schools are, in fact, driving academic outcomes, but in an unexpected way: by accepting students who might otherwise have received a better education at one of Chicago’s high-performing charter school networks. Specifically, the paper finds that many applicants rejected from selective schools ultimately attend a high school in the Noble Network of charters, where they go on to attain much higher test scores. By admitting some students, therefore, the coveted exam schools are in effect “diverting” them from attending Noble schools, where they would perform better…The finding builds on earlier research on Noble conducted by academics Matthew Davis and Blake Heller, who found that attending a Noble school made students 10 percentage points more likely to complete at least four semesters of college. Angrist said that his new study reconciles the conclusions from both Barrow’s study (that low-income students at exam schools actually realize negative academic impacts) and Davis and Heller’s (that students do particularly well at Noble), suggesting that they are actually “one and the same.”

New law requires Illinois schools teach contributions of gay, transgender people: ‘It is past time children know the names of LGBTQ+ pioneers’

By Hannah Leone for the Chicago Tribune

“When Lori Lightfoot was elected mayor of Chicago this spring, the city’s school district put together a lesson guide with ideas and resources for teaching about her inauguration — without explicitly referencing her sexual orientation. “Chicago made history by electing our first African-American woman to serve as Mayor,” the document began. Under a new Illinois law taking effect next year, similar guides might mention another way Chicago made history: by electing its first openly gay mayor. The Inclusive Curriculum Law, signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Aug. 9, mandates that by the time students finish eighth grade, public schools must teach them about contributions to state and U.S. history made by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

Common Welcomes Students To His New South Shore Arts-Focused School

By Maxwell Evans for Block Club

“Hundreds gathered Saturday in South Shore to celebrate the opening of charter school Art in Motion with Common, one of the school’s founding partners. The school, 7415 S. East End Ave., will serve about 200 seventh and eighth graders in its inaugural year. A grade will be added each year until 2023, when it will serve seventh through 12th grades. Art in Motion was originally slated to open in fall 2018 and share a campus with Hirsch Metropolitan High School, according to Chalkbeat. Those plans fell apart, and school partners faced criticism for a lack of community engagement in the process. Some stakeholders in the neighborhood said they were concerned about the school’s readiness to open on time as recently as weeks before its opening…But from its rocky beginning, students and parents hope Art in Motion can promote creativity and increase access to artistic pursuits on the South Side. Every student in attendance received backpacks filled with school supplies from Panasonic, which Common and Pandit helped to pass out.”