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The Chicago Public Schools passed changes to the school rating system that was approved in August of 2013. The rating system is used to determine performance of both public schools and choice and contract schools. Because of the lack of community involvement and transparency, parents spoke out at the meeting where the vote took place. The Chicago Sun-Times reported on the contentious atmosphere.

Some of changes include:

CPS recently decided instead to keep the Levels names and add in two “-plus” Levels, keeping the names that were familiar to parents.

So going forward, Level 1+ will be the top rating for schools whose best practices will be shared, Barker said. Level 1 earns principal autonomy and support from the network. Level 2+ is average performance that garners network oversight.

Levels 2 and 3 are below average and lowest performance and will receive more intense oversight and support. Level 3 district schools could see their principals removed, new Local School Council elections ordered or turnarounds recommended.

Charter and contract schools at Levels 2 and 3 risk non-renewal, Barker said.

The other recommended change was to afford CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett discretion to maintain the top ratings of top-rated schools for a year following a dramatic change, such as a new principal, staff turnover or large influx of students.

Both the Illinois Network of Charter Schools and a parent organization, Raise Your Hand, expressed their concerns with the changes despite being part of the development of the new ratings.

Jodie Cantrell, spokeswoman for the Illinois Network of Charter schools, said her member schools were surprised by “late-stage decision-making right before the rollouts,” saying the changes “weren’t things that were talked about or agreed upon.”

The CEO discretion also concerned her.

“We’re just interested to see how this plays out and are concerned that the common accountability isn’t so common anymore,” she said.

The parent coalition Raise Your Hand also was listed as a stakeholder in redeveloping the ratings system, but director Wendy Katten said the group’s numerous concerns about it were never addressed.

“We would never condone a policy that uses one single test score as 60 percent of a score,” she said, a test never meant to be used for ratings, according to its own website.

“The way it was delayed, renamed, tweaked during an election cycle while being used to closed schools in other years,” she was saying about the policy as security took the microphone away.

Alderman Jason Ervin (28th) who was in attendance asked that the board hold more of their meetings at public sites.

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