Thursday, August 16, 2007

Average CPS freshman: 19 absences, 2.6 F's - Wake Up Chicago!

The Wednesday, August 15, 2007 Chicago SunTimes featured a story on page 16 that to me should have been on page one. According to a research report produced by the University of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research, titled What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in Chicago Public Schools

The SunTimes article stated that "the AVERAGE for all 2004-05 freshmen in Chicago Public Schools was 19 absences and 2.6 F's."

At one school the average was 44 days missed! The report ties early failure with later dropout rates.

The authors of this report "examine how school practices affect students’ grades, failure rates and attendance. Students' grades and attendance are particularly better than expected in schools characterized by two features—supportive relationships between teachers and students, and a perception among students that the work they are doing in high school is preparing them for the future."

What scares me is that the responses to this are band-aids, like confining students to one floor of a school, or creating later start times.

No one is talking about systemic change of reaching these students as early as first grade with mentoring, social and emotional learning, arts and enrichment activities intended to build student aspirations and motivations so that when they get to high school they are more prepared to learn.

There are people who are writing about learning styles. Click here, here, and here for a few examples.

These are just a few of the resources on the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site that adults can learn from so that the strategies for building student aspirations engage more community stakeholders, start earlier, last longer, and reach the kids who are most disadvantaged because of high poverty surrounding them and their community.

Until writers, community and business leaders, parents and non profits begin to form study groups, and build their own learning habits, too few people will ever read the research and policy as well as philanthropy and community service decisions will be based on sound bytes, not sound strategy.

I outlined a learning strategy in a blog titled ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I show how tutoring/mentoring is a way to engage adults in this learning, in this animated presentation found on the home page of

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