Chicago Schools Fail to Close Achievement Gap

Black students are still losing academic ground.

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The achievement gap in Chicago Public Schools continues to grow. (Thinkstock)

Joel Hood of the Chicago Tribune is reporting that despite reforms targeting low-income families in Chicago Public Schools, the achievement gap between black and white students has actually increased.

Hood writes:

Across the city, and spanning three eras of CPS leadership, black elementary school students have lost ground to their white, Latino and Asian classmates in testing proficiency in math and reading, according to a recent analysis by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. Even for schools so often weighed down by violence, poverty and dysfunction in their neighborhoods, news of this growing deficit was surprising to researchers considering the strides African-American students had made nationally over the same period.

Since the early 1990s, black fourth-graders and eighth-graders in the U.S. have improved their reading and math scores at a greater rate than whites on the annual National Assessment of Educational Progress tests. This progress has escaped CPS, where almost half of the student population is black. 

Hood reports:

"It's not the students' fault. It's our fault as adults," CPS' new chief, Jean-Claude Brizard, said recently in a speech to the Chicago Urban League. "In order to turn things around, we must make sure that the students and their achievement always comes first. Not adults. Not politics. Not administrators. Not contracts."

We're glad to see that the new chief understands that ultimately adults are responsible for the success or failure of students. Yes, students have some culpability in the situation, but parents, teachers and administrators are the adults in the equation. They should be able to work together to help improve student performance.

If adults can't inspire children to want to do better for themselves, then that's a problem that CPS and other troubled school systems will need to solve. Other school systems are figuring it out -- CPS must figure it out as well.  

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

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