Posts Tagged ‘retention’

What to do if CPS threatens to flunk your child after summer school

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

A PURE tip sheet. Download here to share,

How to help your child move up

to the next grade after summer school

If CPS sent your child to summer school this year, how can you be sure he or she will be promoted to the next grade in the fall? Here’s what must happen for your child to move up, according to the CPS promotion policy:

  • All summer school students must have a passing grade in reading and math on the summer school report card, and no more than 3 unexcused absences.

  • Summer student students who scored below the 25th percentile on the reading or math state test in the spring must also retake the state test in the area or areas where their spring scores were below the 25th percentile. To be promoted, they must score at the 25th percentile or above this time.

  • There are other requirements for special education students, English language learners, and eighth grade students who did not meet the CPS cut score in writing. For the details, see the CPS promotion policy

    as amended by this resolution in May 2012:

Parents’ right to appeal

If CPS decides to retain your child – hold him or her back — you have a right to appeal that decision.

  • You will only have FIVE days to file your appeal after you are notified of the decision, so you need to be prepared.

  • You must make your appeal in writing to the CPS Chief Education Officer, 125 S. Clark Street, 5th floor, Chicago IL 60603 fax: 773-553-1501. Ask for a review of your child’s academic performance based on all available evidence.

  • For this review, you may bring any additional information regarding your child that would justify waiving the requirements of the promotion policy.

PURE has a tip sheet for parents with ideas for building a student portfolio which you can use to present evidence of your child’s abilities, progress, and challenges:

© Parents United for Responsible Education2012

11 E Adams Street Chicago, IL 60603 Tel. 312/491-9101

nload and share here.

PSAT for 12-20-11: A gift to share

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

We work really hard here at PURE, and the rewards sometimes seem few and far between. Then we get a message like the one that follows below, and it all seems worthwhile.

For Public Schools Action Tuesday 12-20-11, Part 2, please share this inspiring story of a young man who was threatened with retention by CPS based on one-tenth of a point on an Iowa test. And if you believe it’s important for PURE to be able to continue our work, speaking out against harmful school policies and standing up for a high-quality education for all students, please consider an end-of-year tax-exempt donation. THANK YOU!


Dear Julie,

Hello, this is Everett Fonéy. I do not know if you remember me or not, however PURE helped me in 1999 when I was an eighth grader in Chicago Public Schools. Your organization allowed me to retake the Iowa test that I sadly failed due to being sick. I was able to retake the test after a retest. My retest made CPS look stupid when I scored a 10th grade Iowa Test score. I thank you and your organization. The voice of PURE helped me.

Since I graduated HS in 2003, I have graduated from Morehouse College. I am currently working on my MBA as a graduate student. When I graduate in June, I would like to pursue my passion of journalism. I am hoping to attend Berkeley School of Journalism in the fall of 2013. My hope is that my talent can give voice to people and tell their stories internationally.

For two academic school years, I have worked in Atlanta Public Schools where I have witnessed the injustice of “No Child Left Behind” and the standardized test. Teachers are at risk at losing their jobs due to this unjust system. Children are also at risk of losing qualified teachers based on a law and metric that holds no weight. Additionally, my school system made national headlines with a teaching scandal due to the pressure of standardized tests in this nation.

As I pursue my last MBA courses, I would like to do some freelance journalism work that will give voice to teachers, students, and parents about the injustice of “No Child Left Behind”. Additionally, it is the best service I can to give back to PURE as a former case load. I would like to write an article highlighting the relationships that will be broken by parents, teachers, and students if the turn-around proposal succeed.

As a former educator in a Title 1 school, I remember having students who did not want to learn because they had personal problems (abusive parents, HIV infection, molestation, pregnancy, drug abuse, and human prostitution). The children were able to learn when they told teachers who they trusted about these situations. In Chicago Public Schools, I am sure these same problems and trust relationships occur. If these students lose teachers they trust, they will be set-up to fail. I would love to find this story to begin a series of spotlights in our public “No Child Left Behind” education system. Sadly our children are left behind.

Please tell me your opinion and let me know if you know of any parents, teachers, or students I could talk to. I would also love to investigate or do a story on any situations that you deem worthy to have a voice.

-Everett Fonéy

More evidence that grade retention is a stupid idea

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Monty Neill just sent around this Ed Week article summary:

Countries in which schools frequently hold back or kick out students with low academic performance tend to have weaker, more expensive, and more socially inequitable education systems overall according to an analysis by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. [See - the link on the EW page was to wrong study - mn]

In comparing the results of the Program for International Student Assessment in 65 countries, OECD researchers found that differences among countries grade-retention trends could explain up to 15 percent of the variance among average scores on the 2009 PISA. The United States reported an average of more than one in 10 students repeating a grade, higher than the OECD average, while top-performing Finland and South Korea do not allow grade retention. Fewer than 3 percent of students in 13 countries reported ever repeating a grade, while more than 25 percent of students repeated at least one in France, Spain, and 13 other countries.

It’s flunking season in CPS – here are some ideas about what to do

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

We are already getting calls and e-mails from parents who are getting those unwelcome letters from Chicago Public Schools telling them that their children will not be able to participate in eighth grade graduation, and, along with some third and sixth graders, will have to go to summer school in order to be promoted.

Usually these notices come as a complete surprise to parents, who have been paying attention to their children’s report cards and have seen little to indicate that there was a problem.

That’s because in CPS, it’s primarily the student’s state test score that triggers the summer school requirement and possibly flunking.

Please help us get the word out to parents that they can challenge the decision – especially the one barring students from eighth grade graduation. We urge those parents to go immediately to the school principal. Some principals allow students to walk even if they are going to have to go to summer school.

To challenge the non-promotion decision, parents need to call the Office of Elementary Areas and Schools: (773) 553-2150. If she is still there, ask for Alice Painter or whoever is doing what she did.

Unfortunately, CPS still has a promotion policy that requires students to “pass” both the state reading and the state math test in order to graduate from eighth grade or be promoted from third of sixth grade without having to go to summer school.

Parents can ask for a review of the decision but that review mostly consists of looking at the test scores again.

PURE filed a complaint last December against CPS with the Office for Civil Rights of the US Department of Education over this policy. We are still waiting to hear the results of their investigation.

Here’s a tip sheet for parents with more information and ideas for dealing with this immoral, ineffective, and expensive policy: What to Do if your Child is not Promoted.

Parents should also contact us for more assistance.

Catalyst retention issue highlights – and hides – PURE’s OCR complaints

Monday, May 16th, 2011

This month’s issue of Catalyst is all about the failure of Chicago Public Schools’ flunking policy.

It starts with an editorial by Editor-in-Chief Lorraine Forte titled: “Kill student retention and get real about learning.”

Forte writes,

the policy has been watered down in the past 15 years because of outside pressure, including a major 2004 study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research that definitively showed the dramatic negative effects of retention—in particular, the far greater risk of eventually dropping out. More recently, the advocacy group Parents United for Responsible Education put the issue on the front burner when it filed a federal civil rights complaint against the district’s retention policy because of its disparate racial impact.

The issue reviews the problems with retention, how the policy has affected schools and students. and what districts have and haven’t done to address students’ needs.

I especially appreciate the quote from former CPS Chief Education Officer Blondean Davis, who implemented retention for CEO Paul Vallas but is now “skeptical” of the practice. Catalyst reports that in Matteson School District 162, which Davis serves as schools superintendent, “very few students are held back and the process is subjective, done in consultation with teachers, parents and principals. ‘I’ve had a lot of time to think about it,’ Davis says. ‘Retention has to be the last resort.’ ”

Life-long learners, right, Blondean?

Blind spot?

I’ve always wondered why Catalyst — and the Consortium’s retention studies, for that matter — go to some length to avoid acknowledging the impact of PURE’s 1999 Office for Civil Rights (OCR) complaint.

In the quote above, Catalyst’s Forte refers to “outside pressure” that led to changes in the policy over the past 15 years, but only specifies the Consortium report as an example.

Their timeline of events (p. 10) says that in 2000 “school advocates convince CPS to alter the policy.”

Similarly, the Consortium’s 2004 report, “Ending Social Promotion: The Effects of Retention,” mentions that “the policy was challenged in a civil rights complaint” (p. 10).

Credit where credit’s due…

The fact is, it was PURE’s 1999 complaint alone that forced the biggest change in the policy, that is, ending the use of Iowa test scores alone as the retention trigger.

As a result of that complaint, OCR undertook a year-long investigation of CPS’s promotion policy, leading to complaint resolution procedures which resulted in CPS revising the policy at the end of the summer of 2000.

PURE and our lawyer, Elaine Siegel, were given advance copies of the draft revised policy and found continued problems with it. We quickly prepared a formal list of concerns. OCR intervened and, after a series of conversations with the CPS Law Department, a final agreement was struck which, while not everything we wanted, at least did the following:

  • specified that students would be evaluated using multiple measures;
  • added a parents’ right to a review, including the parents’ right to bring in their own examples of the student’s work as evidence of appropriate skills and knowledge;
  • required an annual report on any disparate impact of the policy based on race or national origin.

This happened four years before the Consortium publicly criticized the policy.

Just makes me wonder about the hesitancy to give a small parent advocacy group its due. Are the rich Chicago funders really that scary? Listen, they have tried – without success – to kill PURE off so that we would no longer be able to challenge the cockamamie ideas of their favored school leaders. So, they can’t be all that powerful – certainly not more powerful than the truth, anyway.

Support PURE!
About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.