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I want to know if the kids will be alright.  I think every parent wants to know that their kids (and everyone else’s kids) are going to be okay, love learning, develop as well-rounded human beings, have a shot at a good high school/college/job, and not still be living in the basement without a job at age 35.

I know that sounds a bit too broad or maybe too flippant, but at the heart of all of this, that’s what I want to know.  Public education is the most important tool we have in our democratic toolbox as a society.  When done well, it levels the socioeconomic and societal playing field in ways that nothing else can.  I really, truly believe that. I’ve been lucky enough to live it and watch it happen for others.

On a more local level, here is the list of questions that I’ve been keeping on my laptop as I’ve been poking around in all of this data:

  • This data is complex and often presented in a fragmented fashion. How do we provide more clarity and transparency for CPS parents and citizens around the data?
  • How can we present the data in ways that help parents and communities make more informed decisions about schools and enable them to take action to influence district-level decisions?
  • Which neighborhood, “take all” schools in Chicago are the “rising tide” schools (Top 20 list)?  The schools that take any kid who shows up without an application, lottery number or test and helps them to learn? Which schools which more closely resemble the CPS average demographic can be considered “rising tide” schools?
  • Since measuring “learning” is really complicated, how can we use what we have ( like standardized test scores, graduation rates) to come up with some rough rankings and to create better, more holistic measures of student and school performance?
  • What are the real differences in instructional dollars spent on students in different schools?
  • What are the variables being measured right now that could potentially be affecting student performance or creating more constraints for teachers/educators in helping students improve?
  • What are the data gaps? What data is NOT being reported or collected?
  • How does the Options for Knowledge System affect ease of access and enrollments for all students?

And REALLY specifically about the data that I’ve seen:

  • Where can I find the data on teacher turnover at all schools within CPS?
  • How are mobility rates currently calculated and who reports them?
  • How can we more accurately measure improvement in schools such as Beaubien, Bell, etc. where there is a wholly-contained test-in (SEES) program within a neighborhood/take-all school, and the scores for all students aren’t separated out in composites?
  • Do International Baccalaureate and other special programs within some schools (Lincoln, Peirce, Carnegie, others) only admit some students? Or any student? How are students admitted?
  • Where are the published performance measures for principals and other school leaders?
  • Are there any charters which really DO outperform the surrounding neighborhood schools consistently over time, if you control for variables such as race, socioeconomic status, percentage of LEP/IEP learners, etc.?
  • What are the dollars given to each charter from all sources? Including private donors? Are they really doing more with less money?
  • Which schools across CPS have the largest class sizes in each grade?  (For real.)
  • Which schools take in students who initially test in very, very low and leave testing much higher?
  • Which schools have higher/lower:  parent engagement, mobility rates, attendance rates, truancy rates, etc.?

What would you want to know if you could know anything about CPS schools?

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