Chicago Public Schools administrators are sending students a message: Performance and accountability mean nothing; it’s political perception that really matters.
In September, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel touted the district’s graduation rate and student test scores as something the state should be proud of.
“These are statistics, I would hope the state of Illinois would actually see the success of what’s happening in Chicago, and, rather than run it down, hold it up,” Emanuel said, according to the Chicago Sun Times. “Be proud of it.”
A recent analysis of 2016 data by the Chicago City Wire shows the Windy City mayor is full of hot air.
The news service compared end-of-year tests known as Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) with the district’s reported graduation rate to illustrate each schools’ “graduation fraud index.”
Essentially, a lot more students are graduating than are passing the test, proving that the diplomas Emanuel is so proud of are basically worthless. The PARCC tests are designed to determine if students are “ready for the next level,” and it’s clear many are not.
Clark Academy Preparatory Magnet High School, for example, reports a 93.1% graduation rate, while only 4.1% of students at the school meet or exceed expectations on PARCC tests—leading to a “graduation fraud index” of -89, City Wire reports.
Marine Leadership Academy at Ames’ graduation rate is 100%, but only 11.6% passed the PARRC test, giving the school a -88.5 “graduation fraud index.”
Every single high school in the city, with the exceptions of Northside College Preparatory High School and Chicago Virtual Charter School, graduate at a higher percentage of students than those that pass the PARRC test.
The bottom line: “data shows a staggering difference between the rate of students deemed ‘ready for the next level’ by state standards and those graduating from high school,” according to the news site.
The fact that Chicago Public Schools are graduating students who fail annual exams is an institutional and cultural breakdown that threatens students’ character development.
“By looking carefully at the ways in which we mediate moral understanding to children, we may learn much about the kind of society we live in and will pass on to future generations,” Hunter wrote.
Adults demonstrate their moral character or lack of character through their actions, and students quickly learn whether adults will say or do whatever is expedient. It’s a crisis not just because of the moral failure of adults, but also because of the consequences for the students those adults are supposed to serve.
Educators in Chicago and elsewhere can benefit from a lesson in “professional virtue” from the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues to understand what it really means to model strong character for the next generation.