Meanwhile, some 350,000 students are left missing time in the classroom. And a look at the statistics regarding the performance of Chicago students — and the facilities in which they try to learn — shows just how critical it is that the city both invest in new resources and get its teachers back on the job as quickly as possible. Here are the key facts about the conditions students in Chicago currently face:
– 33 percent of Chicago’s children were in poverty in 2010, versus a rate of 20 percent for Illinois children as a whole; 80 percent of Chicago students qualify for free or reduced lunches. Research suggests the academic achievement gap between children of differing income levels has now far outpaced the gap between back and white children, and income disparities can account for 40 percent or more of the variation in test scores.
– Chicago has a shorter school day than the national average for elementary schools, at five hours forty-five minutes (though secondary school days in the district are slightly longer than the national average). Many Chicago students are in class for 10 days less than the national average of 180 days. Emanuel and the teachers negotiated a deal to extend hours and hire hundreds of new teachers to deal with the increased workload. Studies have shown that expanded learning time can provide a significant boost for students, particularly those most likely to fall behind in the classroom.
– Chicago scores lower than other big cities on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests, with just 20 percent of students performing at “proficient” levels in 2011. 60 percent of students performed at “basic” levels. However, the districthas made big strides to improve student achievement since 2003.