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'Turnaround' of Marshall High School challenged... Corrupt Administrators and Special Education problems dooming Marshall High School?

Marshall High School staff, students, administration, alumni, and community representatives testified against the turnaround of the school at the hearing on February 1, 2010 at Chicago Board of Education chambers.

Turnaround is a policy where the entire staff is terminated — including the all support staff such as lunchroom attendants and custodians. Fenger High School is a turnaround school; it is where student Derrion Albert was murdered walking home after school on September 24, 2009.

Witnesses presenting "performance" data for the Board of Education showed that Marshall High School was not performing according to CPS Performance Policy and recommended to terminate all the staff at Marshall High School. The witnesses said that Marshall has been on academic probation for 14 years and claimed that Marshall was part of an $80 million 'High School Transformation' initiative that has not improved the school.

Joseph Moriarty, Associate General Counsel, presented the legal rights and responsibilities of the Board to reconstitute Marshall. Robert Runcie-Chief Administrative Officer talked of the school starting with a “Clean Slate” and that with a new staff “they will succeed.”

Then came Ryan Crosby — Director of Accountability — who showed graphs of data that he testified showed the lack of performance of Marshall HS. Most if not all the graphs showed Marshall HS following the trends of district performance. The 5-year graduation trend actually showed that in 2008 a 10% increase in well above the district improvement average.

In the chart regarding the Attendance Rate there was a close to 25% decrease in attendance at Marshall in 2008 with no explanation or variances of this caveat in the other data tables by Crosby. In later testimony by staff and the community it was revealed that there were charter schools and other selective enrollment schools in the area of Marshall HS including a shift in demographics due to gentrification that accounted for the dramatic drop in attendance.

Akeshia Craven Chief Area Officer Area 19 who introduced into the record the an Illinois State Board of Education notice dated March 24, 2009 that Marshall High School was “persistently” not providing Special Education services to students and would face something called "non-recognition" — apparently meaning that the school would lose its certification to operate as a school in Illinois. Because there was no cross examination allowed during the hearings, Akeshia Craven was not asked whether so-called "non recognition" has ever been applied to any school in Illinois, and what the real consequences of such a designation might be.

Over the past 14 years, according to Marshall witnesses. two principals have been removed from marshall for their inability to improve the school’s academic performance — once in 1996 and then again in 2006. There is an “urgent need for the performance of Marshall High School to improve and to improve quickly and to demonstrate to ISBE that a new day will be dawning at Marshall High School,” Craven claimed.

In remarkable testimony, Dr. Donald Fraynd (Chief Officer of the Office of School Turnaround at CPS who managed and is directly responsible for the turn-around process at Fenger High School) made a statement that although the Derrion Albert tragedy took place at Fenger: “We have learned a great deal.”

He went on to minimize the death of a student as the result of School Board policy and talked of the “positive things” he claimed were going on inside of Fenger — neglecting to put into the record the numerous arrests and school fights that have occurred after the murder of Derrion Albert. Dr. Fraynd also neglected to put into the record a lawsuit filed by Fenger parents on behalf of students on the grounds that the school was unsafe and the school Board did not allow students to transfer out of Fenger to safer and better performing schools.

Public testimony contradicted the data presented by the district employees that the school is not achieving or making gains in academic areas. In one case, teacher Donald Baumgarter — Math Teacher, Debate Coach, and Trained Attorney — introduced evidence that Marshall HS tests scores reported by CPS administrators to justify terminating all the staff did not take into account the high number of special education students enrolled at the school.

Mr. Baumgarten made it clear that it was not the fault of the special education students that the school was in trouble but the double standard and lack of resources by CPS administrators that did not give special education students at Marshall an equal opportunity to succeed. The overall theme of the public testimony is that Marshall was not the failure but that it was CPS policy and administrators that were the failure. Never working with the stakeholders but imposing all sorts of new management procedures and instructional delivery without any follow up, resources or consistency.

Administrative incompetence a factor that was introduced into the record by staff and community members was the lack of competent and consistent leadership at the school. In a break from the past practice the hearing officer himself testified to the fact that Marshall HS on probation for 14 years come to his attention as a hearing officer when a case of mis-allocation of resources by the school administrators.

Fredrick Bates, hearing officer, ended the testimony with what he claimed were his own recollections on the incompetent and corrupt administration of Marshall High School. He referenced the case of former Marshall principal Steve Newton, who built a personal bathroom for himself instead of buying textbooks.

As usual, Bates interspersed his comments into the record without regard to the time for members of the public to comment. Bates's comments are never made during the lengthy narratives provided by CPS officials and only come at the expense of those who oppose CPS policy.

“The most moving moment as a hearing when the President of the student body form Marshall testified before me when the Board was still located on Pershing Road and she said 'I wanted to be a doctor, but I didn’t have any text books to study chemistry or biology. I didn’t have any mice to dissect. I didn’t have any chemicals to use in chem Lab which is a closet. So yea I’m the valedictorian and I got a 4.0 average. I’m going to have a tough time getting through freshman year of college.'”

Bates went on to say that he was “surprised” to see the school on the list of schools to be reconstituted, and it would be forever etched in his mind the injustice of done to the students at Marshall.

The Board testimony also neglected to disclose that Marshall Principal Juan Gardner — on Oct. 2, 2007 — illegally fired Lamont Bryant, the Marshall’s boys basketball coach just before the 2007-08 season. According to CPS claims, Bryant had violated the school’s code of conduct for coaches. In a court settlement, Bryant was awarded $500,000. According to Bryant’s attorney, Terry Ekl, the pivotal moment in the case came on Nov. 21, 2008, when U.S. District Judge Rubin Castillo determined that a falsified document had been used to get Bryant fired. The court records state: “Defendant Gardner's apparent fabrication of evidence and submission of a false declaration…Upon review, the Court finds it necessary to refer this matter to the U.S. Attorney for investigation and any other action he deems appropriate in connection with Defendant Gardner's possible violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1623.” (Bryant v. Gardner, et al., Defendants (CPS), Case Number. 07 C 5909, 587 F. Supp. 2d 951)

The testimony on the proposed "turnaround" of Marshall High School continued with most if not all evidence showing that either CPS data collection was reporting faulty data or did not take into account certain variables that would account for low scores and data: such as, high mobility rates, high special education population, incoming freshman at or below middle school level reading ability, high attrition rate of teachers, and receiving students from schools that dropped students for low performance.

Testimony was presented as it was introduced into the record during the hearing by Marshall Teacher and attorney administrators Donald Baumgarter that refuted Board claims of low performance and made the case that resources were never allocated to the school during the fourteen years the school was on probation. Mr. Baumgarten makes the claim, through the use of data analysis, that Marshall Students are at or above performance levels or other high schools if special education performance is factored out of the data computations. Even though the law declares that the school should have been providing special education services to its students Marshall was never given the proper resources under the law to help special education improve their personal performance let alone the school’s performance.


Marshall ACT scores
Testimony of Donald Baumgarten - Marshall HS Teacher

The average ACT score for all of the Chicago Public Schools is 17. The average for the state of Illinois is 20. The National norm is set at 18 with the top score of 36. According to the official CPS website, the average score for Marshall High School is 14.

On its surface, that number is low. However, numbers can be deceiving. In 2008, 207 juniors took the ACT test. The ACT test is a graduation requirement. All students must take the test. Neither Illinois law nor the rules of CPS require a minimum score to graduate. A student could get a score of zero or 1 and still graduate. Many colleges do not require ACT scores to enroll. A high ACT is helpful in life, but not necessary.

The ACT score is evidence of a school’s performance. Students who are college bound want to do well on the ACT. Students who are bound for the work place may not care about a high ACT score. The official CPS site states that of the graduates from Marshall, 34% are enrolled in college and 53% are in the work place. College is not for everybody. Americans honor hard work.

Marshall has a high population of special education students. By Federal law these students must be accepted by Marshall. Unless the special education students can soar high enough to get into a selective enrollment school like Lane or Northside they come to general admission schools like Marshall.

Marshall has a higher percentage of special education students then most schools. We have 25 percent special education students. The total is about 250. In 2009, we had 42 juniors with special needs who took the ACT test. Their scores were part of the overall ACT scores.

As you will see later there is a direct link between high special education population and low ACT scores. If a high school has a low special education population the scores are inevitably higher.

Some special education students may be gifted and score high. That is not the case at Marshall. From our study of the scores, the special education students scored from 11 to 12.

Some of special education students are often the best behaved and many times will succeed at one subject like math but do poorly at reading. Overall however, they test lower.

The last ACT test was given in March 2009. The average score was 14. From all of the juniors taking the test the numbers are as follows:

CT Score Number Percent

17 to 22 29 0.14

15 to 16 38 0.18

12 to 14 123 0.59

0-11 17 0.08

207

From these charts you can see that the largest group is in the 12 to 14 range. The ACT has 5 choices for each question. If you guess there is a 20% chance you will be correct. If you do guess you can get a score of 12 to 14. Marshall had 123 students who got an ACT score between 12 and 14. There were 59% who scored 12 to 14. We even have students that scored from Zero to 11.

But if we look at the students that scored above 15 we get a different look at Marshall. You can see that 67 students earned a score of 15 or higher. 29 students scored 17 or higher. This shows progress and success. When taken with the fact that 34% go to college, one can see that Marshall does produce success.

If we factor out the special education students we get a different picture of Marshall. We had 42 special education students who were juniors last year. None of these students scored above 14. It can be argued that unless their IEP’s state that they must be graded upon the ACT their scores should be removed. The numbers are as follows:

W/O Special Ed Students ACT Score Number Percent

17 to 22 29 0.18

15 to 16 38 0.23

12 to 14 81 0.49

0-11 17 0.10

165

If you factor out the special education students you reduce the scores of 12 to 14 from 59% to 49%. The scores of 15 or better stays the same but the overall percentages changes from 32% to 41%. The number of students scoring 17 or better is now 18%.

Here again the numbers for Marshall’s ACT scores are not equal with Brooks College Prep. They have an average score of 21, but have a special education population of 8%. It is unfair to compare these two schools like the CPS has done.

Test Scores and Special Education Students

One of the reasons that CPS is taking these actions against Marshall is that the Illinois State Board of Education has threatened closure if action is not taken. This is from an official form given by CPS to the Marshall staff. The threat to close Marshall is due to the failure to solve the problems within the Special Education Department. There is a city wide problem with special education. CPS has failed to support the special education students as evidenced by low ACT scores for high schools in high poverty areas of Chicago.

The Formula is simple: High Poverty + High Special Education = Low ACT.

ACT scores and Special Education Chart 1

School Name Type Low Income % Special Ed Students Black Hispanic White Asian ACT Score 2009 % enrolled College

Brooks Selective 85 8 86 12 21 83

Clemente Standard 96 20 34 63 15 30

Crane Standard 94 20 97 14 42

Jones Selective 54 11 31 28 24 87

Kelly standard 95 11 86 17 38

Kenwood standard 79 9 89 18 64

Lane Selective 62 5 43 30 22 81

Manley standard 94 21 99 14 42

Marshall standard 91 25 99 14 34

Northside Selective 34 5 38 32 28 89

Orr standard 96 28 90 15 Phillps standard 96 22 98 14 20

Richards standard 97 14 26 72 14 37

Robeson standard 98 23 99 14 41

Whitney Young Selective 42 4 30 30 26 81

ACT scores and Special Education Chart 2

School Name Type Low Income % Special Ed Students Black Hispanic White Asian ACT Score 2009 % enrolled College

Whitney Young Selective 42 4 30 30 26 81

Lane Selective 62 5 43 30 22 81

Northside Selective 34 5 38 32 28 89

Brooks Selective 85 8 86 12 21 83

Kenwood standard 79 9 89 18 64

Jones Selective 54 11 31 28 24 87

Kelly standard 95 11 86 17 38

Richards standard 97 14 26 72 14 37

Clemente standard 96 20 34 63 15 30

Crane standard 94 20 97 14 42

Manley standard 94 21 99 14 42

Phillps standard 96 22 98 14 20

Robeson standard 98 23 99 14 41

Marshall standard 91 25 99 14 34

Orr standard 96 28 90 15 From chart 2 you can see that the schools with 20% or more special education students have average ACT scores of 14 or 15. The schools with single digit percentages of special education students have the highest scores over the City average of 17. It is believed that the special education students at the selective high schools are not low end special education students but gifted. It is clear that the low income schools have the lowest scores. If you have 90% or more low income students and 20% or more special education students, the formula spells failure.

Orr High School was subject to a turnaround. This is just like what CPS wants to propose

for Marshall. Orr also has a large special education population and high low income students. The official CPS site for Orr does not list the ACT score. But the 2009 Illinois School Report Card show Orr’s 2009 ACT to be 15, not much different then Marshall.

Prairie State Exam (PSAE)

The State of Illinois also requires students to take the Prairie State Exam as a condition to graduate. Here again the students do not have to pass the test, just take the test. The same schools that have low ACT scores have low PSAE scores. The following chart shows the results.

School Name Type Low Income % Special Ed Students Black Hispanic White Asian ACT Score 2009 % enrolled College PSAE

Crane standard 94 20 97 14 42 4%

Phillps standard 96 22 98 14 20 4%

Robeson standard 98 23 99 14 41 4%

Marshall standard 91 25 99 14 34 4%

Richards standard 97 14 26 72 14 37 6%

Orr standard 96 28 90 15 6%

Manley standard 94 21 99 14 42 7%

Clemente standard 96 20 34 63 15 30 12%

Kelly standard 95 11 86 17 38 24%

Brooks Selective 85 8 86 12 21 83 72%

Kenwood standard 79 9 89 18 64 72%

Lane Selective 62 5 43 30 22 81 82%

Jones Selective 54 11 31 28 24 87 88%

Whitney Young Selective 42 4 30 30 26 81 95%

Northside Selective 34 5 38 32 28 89 99%

The average score for the PSAE by all CPS schools that meet the standard is 27%. The overall percentage for the State is 53%. You can see that CPS is behind in the PSAE by almost half. It is no wonder that low performing schools do poorly on the PSAE.

We are not making excuses for the students at Marshall or other low performing schools. We are merely saying that without looking at factors like special education, low income students, and other social factors, the results on standardized tests are deceiving. ACT is a National benchmark. The PSAE is still being developed.

Explore Test

All freshmen in CPS are required to take an Explore Test in October of their freshman year. This test is like a mini -ACT test. The top score is 20. The purpose is to give the student some idea of what their ACT score could be and the area the student needs to work on during the next 3 years. This test is based upon what the student has learned in Elementary school, NOT High School. We only have had them for 2 months before they take the test. Their scores do not affect their grades in the class.

We argue the Explore test is a benchmark of where the students are at as they start high school. If the student had a good experience in a good elementary school, the student will do well. If the student did not have a good experience in elementary school the student will do poorly and just not care and guess. We at Marshall can only start with what we have to start with. The numbers are not very promising for success.

The top score is 20. The highest score from a Marshall student was only 17 which are 66% of the National Composite. The National average is about 15 at 46% composite score. We did not get any students with a score of 18 or above. 7 Comp 2 1% National Composite

8 Comp 12 1% National Composite

9 Comp 23 2% National Composite

10 Comp 27 5% National Composite

11 Comp 34 9% National Composite

12 Comp 58 16% National Composite

13 Comp 37 16% National Composite

14 Comp 29 35% National Composite

15 Comp 17 46% National Composite

16 Comp 8 56% National Composite

17 Comp 2 66% National Composite

18 Comp 0 National Composite

19 Comp 0 National Composite

20 Comp 0 National Composite

249

From the chart you can see that only 27 students got a 15 or more. That is only 10% of the total of 249. That means 90% of the students did not score at the National average. We had 98 students score less than 11%.

In September of 2009 the new Weshingtonhouse College Prep School was opened for freshman only. New Charter schools also opened on the West Side of Chicago. These schools took many of the students that would normally go to Marshall. Our freshman class enrollment went down. The number of students taking the Explore in October 2009 was 134. That constitutes a reduction of 115 students or 53%

7 Comp 2 1% National Average 8 Comp 3 1% National Average 9 Comp 13 2% National Average 10 Comp 18 5% National Average 11 Comp 26 9% National Average 12 Comp 20 16% National Average 13 Comp 19 25% National Average 14 Comp 18 35% National Average 15 Comp 9 46% National Average 16 Comp 4 56% National Average 17 Comp 2 66% National Average 18 Comp 0 19 Comp 0 20 Comp 0 134

Here again the highest score was 17 composite. Out of 134 freshmen who took the Explore Test, only 15 got a 15 or better. That is 11% of the freshman class. Marshall has ZERO composites of 18 or more.

In 2008 we had 92 students that got an 11 or 12 composite. That is 36% of the 249 taking the test. In 2009 we had 44 with an 11 or 12. That is 32% taking the test.

In both years only 10% or so were at National composite score of 15% or more

The numbers for the last few years are the same. Low Explore scores mean low ACT scores. The best students go to the best schools and the lower scoring students go to the general admission schools.

If we had additional time we could go back the 10 years. This data is not available to me and we need more time to present this data.

Marshall’s Feeder Schools

Marshall has about 15 elementary schools that send their students to high school. Besides Marshall, we have Crane and Westinghouse College Prep on the west side of Chicago.

Whitney Young is near by and so is North Lawndale College Prep. The high schools compete for the best elementary schools students. As you may guess, some of the elementary schools are having their own problems. Out of the 15 feeder schools, 11 are on probation and one is set to be consolidated by CPS.

School Name Low Income % % Special Education Meeting State Standards % Possible Pts Total Points Performance Total Points Probation Beider 99 12 53 45 19 42 review Calhoun North 96 14 73 59 25 42 Not

Cather 98 17 54 57 24 42 probation Delano 97 7 55 33 14 42 probation Dodge 96 7 73 71 30 42 Not

Ericson 97 7 60 45 19 42 probation Faraday 97 13 50 35 15 42 probation Goldbatt 99 10 54 38 16 42 probation Hefferan 97 13 71 47 20 42 probation Herbert 99 24 50 52 22 42 probation Marconi 97 9 50 35 15 42 probation Morton 99 10 41 19 8 42 probation Sumner 94 7 72 40 17 42 probation Tilton 97 12 53 42 18 42 probation Ward 98 8 62 81 34 42 NOT

170 871 699 296 Average 8.82% 54 46.6 20 42 Average Elementary schools meet State standards only 54% of time. The average is only 46% out of total performance points. That means less that half of the elementary schools have a better average. Out of Marshall’s 15 feeder schools, 11 are on probation. Only 3 are not on probation and one on review. Marconi will be consolidated with Tilton

Here once more special education must be looked at. The average Special Education percent for the Marshall feeder schools is 8%, but Marshall has 25% special education. Why does Marshall have a larger percentage of special education students from the feeder schools? The answer is that special education students go to general admission schools like Marshall, and not to the selective enrollment schools.

If you sort the feeder schools by special education students you see the schools with a higher number of special education students have the lowest possible performance points. Look at Herbert Elementary. It has 24% special education students. This is similar to Marshall’s 25%. It has only 52% performance points and is on probation. The school with the lowest possible points is Morton with 10%. The Faraday Elementary school is across the parking lot from Marshall. It has 13% special education and 35% possible points.


Short by Special Education % School Name Low Income % % Special Education Meeting State Standards % Possible Pts Total Points Performance Total Points Probation

Herbert 99 24 50 52 22 42 probation

Cather 98 17 54 57 24 42 probation

Calhoun North 96 14 73 59 25 42 NOT

Faraday 97 13 50 35 15 42 probation

Hefferan 97 13 71 47 20 42 probation

Tilton 97 12 53 42 18 42 probation

Beider 99 12 53 45 19 42 Review

Morton 99 10 41 19 8 42 probation

Goldbatt 99 10 54 38 16 42 probation

Marconi 97 9 50 35 15 42 probation

Ward 98 8 62 81 34 42 NOT

Delano 97 7 55 33 14 42 probation

Sumner 94 7 72 40 17 42 probation

Ericson 97 7 60 45 19 42 probation

Dodge 96 7 73 71 30 42 NOT

170 871 699 296 Average 8.82% 54 46.6 20 42 It is not our argument that all the problems of Marshall can be placed on the Special Education students. They only make up 25 % of the Marshall Students. What about the other 75%? They are typically the product of failing schools. The elementary teacher, like the high school teacher, must spend extra time on children with special needs. We only have so much time. The problem is the needs of the special education students and general education students have been neglected by CPS. The funds CPS has to spend have been spent on the Selective enrollment schools. The schools with the most need have received the least. If CPS wants to solve Marshall’s failure they should start with the source. Solve the problems we have with elementary schools. 

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