Low performing Detroit charters continued

There continues to be a widespread belief that low student achievement in places like Detroit have little to do with the quality of the schools. So holding charter schools in Detroit accountable for high standards is asking for something that is not achievable. Basically the story line is that urban kids bring too many deficits with them to school. From their families and communities. So all you can/should expect from urban charters is increased safety, slightly better student achievement than the traditional public school district and less expensive.

But as I wrote in a previous post on the topic: “The excuse for years has been that no urban school––traditional public or charter––can meet a college ready standard. Here the DEPSA Early College of Excellence is starting to take that excuse off the table. And in Chicago the Noble Network of charter high schools with an average 2014 ACT score of 20.7 is demonstrating that open enrollment choice urban high schools can prepare students to be college ready.”

Noble’s success got me curious about charter high schools in Chicago. Are they an exception to the rule or do Chicago charter high schools across the board outperform Detroit charter high schools? Here are the 2015 ACT scores for the 38 Chicago charter high schools. Illinois, like Michigan, requires all 11th graders to take the ACT. So these scores are on the same test as the Detroit scores I listed in my previous post. Remember that 16 is 8th grade competency, 21 the national average.

  • Noble/Chicago Bulls: 22.2
  • Noble/UIC: 22.2
  • Noble/Muchin: 21.8
  • Noble/Noble: 20.8
  • Noble/Pritzker: 20.6
  • Noble/Silver; 20.1
  • Chicago Virtual: 20.0
  • CICS/Northtown: 19.6
  • Noble/Rautner: 19.6
  • Noble/Johnson: 19.2
  • Noble/Golder: 19.0
  • Chicago Math & Science: 18.8
  • Noble/Purple: 18.8
  • Noble/Rowe Clark: 18.8
  • Perspectives/Joslin: 18.7
  • Noble/Comer: 18.6
  • Uno/Hector P Garcia: 18.0
  • University of Chicago/Woodlawn: 17.7
  • Instituto Academy: 17.6
  • Epic: 17.4
  • Catalyst: 17.2
  • Urban Prep/Englewood: 17.1
  • Urban Prep/Bronzeville: 17.0
  • Legal Prep: 16.6
  • Urban Prep/West: 16.6
  • Aspira: 16.5
  • North Lawndale/Christiana: 16.5
  • Perspectives/IIT: 16.4
  • Amandla: 16.3
  • CICS/Hawkins: 16.3
  • Young Women: 16.3
  • Perspectives/Calumet Tech: 16.2
  • Perspectives/Leadership: 16.1
  • CICS/Ellison: 15.6
  • CICS/Longwood: 15.3
  • North Lawndale/Collins: 15.3
  • Ace technical: 14.7
  • Shabazz/Dusable: 14.1

The out performance of the Noble schools jumps out. Twelve high schools with ACT scores ranging from 18.6 to 22.2. Six of the twelve with average ACT scores of 20 or higher. But its more than just the Noble schools that have higher average ACT scores than Detroit charters. 15 of the 38 Chicago charters score higher than any Detroit charter. 23 of the 38 score higher than the second ranked Detroit charter. Of 16 Detroit charters 11 have average ACT scores below 16 (8th grade competency). Of 38 charters Chicago has 5 with scores below 16.

For those wanting more data on Chicago high schools, both charter and traditional public, the database I used can be found here.

So in Chicago charter high schools come a lot closer to realizing the vision of charter supporters. Which I described previously this way:  “Traditional public schools with elected school boards, strong unions and big centralized bureaucracies face permanent gale force winds that make it almost impossible to deliver effective teaching and learning leading to high student achievement. And that freed from all those evils plus having parents and students choose their school, charters will get far better student achievement.”

And the clear out performance of so many Chicago charter high schools compared to Detroit charter high schools should take the excuse off the table that urban students can’t meet high standards. Yes many students in Detroit and Chicago bring to school multiple barriers to meeting high academic standards. But no schools are not powerless in overcoming those barriers.

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Lou Glazer

Lou Glazer is President and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit organization. Michigan Future’s mission is to be a source of new ideas on how Michigan can succeed as a world class community in a knowledge-driven economy. Its work is funded by Michigan foundations.

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