Test scores suffered after CPS closed 50 schools in 2013, study says

Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Study shows lowered test scores, lack of teacher trianing in 2013 CPS closures
CPS closed 50 schools in 2013, and affected teachers and students reported negative outcomes.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new report shows that student test scores suffered and teachers were not provided with necessary training when Chicago Public Schools closed 50 schools five years ago.

The study, conducted by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research, shows the effects of the school closures on GPA scores and the students' overall thoughts on what it was like to leave their school for another.

In 2013, the Chicago Board of Education voted to close 47 elementary schools, a high school program, and phase out two more schools the next year.

They cited a $1 billion budget deficit, underutilized buildings and declining enrollment as their reason. Those students merged with other students at another school.

The study includes interviews with students and staff, from not only a closing school, but also the school they transfer to, known as the welcoming school.

"This was a big change for the welcoming schools, on average each welcoming school got approximately 150 new students from closed schools," said Molly Gordon of the Consortium on School Research.

One of the biggest complaints among both students and staff was a chaotic planning process during the merging of the schools. They said they felt unprepared for the start of the school year. They also said it created challenging social dynamics.

"I think CPS thought they were providing the support that was necessary to support students, I don't think they anticipated the adults needed as much support as they did," Gordon said.

According to Gordon, staff received no training on how to integrate schools. In some cases, school buildings were unclean and not ready for the school year.

Switching schools also had a negative impact on student test scores. While reading scores overall remained neutral, math scores dropped and remained lower for four years.

"I think learning math is about learning and building upon a concept, so if you missed some of that it's harder to make up that loss," said Marisa Delatorre of the Consortium on School Research.

There was also lower attendance and negative effects on overall achievement in the students already enrolled in a welcoming school.

CPS CEO Janice Jackson acknowledged that the transition was imperfect and done in a hurry. Jackson said that CPS's test scores have improved overall in the past few years.

"But, the report also outlines the fact there is still more work to do and we need to be careful in how we roll these things out," Jackson said.