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December 22, 2007

In Chicago, High School Principals Get Grilled Downtown

Jay Field:

Top education officials are taking a get-tough approach in their struggle to improve city high schools. They’re grilling all the principals on everything from test scores to student attendance. The sessions are modeled on a successful crime prevention program in New York and they are subjecting principals to a level of scrutiny they aren’t used to.

In recent years, the story of Chicago’s public schools has been one of two different districts, the elementary schools and the high schools. In the lower grades, test scores are on the rise and optimism abounds. But in the high schools, large numbers of kids continue to drop out, the graduation rate remains stuck at around fifty percent and test scores have shown little to no improvement. Arne Duncan is Chicago Public Schools' CEO.

DUNCAN: And so we really wanted to put a spotlight on high school performance. Principals are accountable for their body of work, which is their school’s performance.

To drive home the message, Duncan and his aides are embracing a program initially designed to cut down on crime, not high school dropouts. The New York City Police Department launched COMPSTAT in 1994. Every week, local precinct commanders would come before top police officials, armed with statistics, and have their crime-fighting strategies picked apart. The Chicago Public Schools version of the program puts high school principals in the hot seat.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at December 22, 2007 12:00 AM
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