By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
How to achieve greater gains on tests and increase attendance were the two main topics discussed Wednesday night at Ray Elementary School during its “State of the School” address. If the school does not make gains over the next few months it could lead to designation as a low-ranking school, according to Interim Principal Toni Hill.
During the meeting, Hill told the approximately 30 families that attended that Ray is currently a hundredth of a point away from becoming a level 3 school.
Level 3 is the lowest rank a school can receive from Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Low performing schools are often placed on probation and are subject to structural takeover by central office. The score comes from a new CPS measurement of school improvement.
“This meeting usually happens in January, but I’m doing it now so the school can make targeted steps to improve,” Hill said.
Hill said students at Ray, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., are performing well in the classroom and on standardized tests and all parent involvement and community partnerships are in place as a great support for them but they are not making the year-to-year gains that CPS requires them to make to maintain the school’s level two status.
The school’s 95 percent attendance rate is also a few notches below the CPS attendance requirements of 97 percent.
“As a level 3 school, we would be taken over by CPS and I’m not sure what type of creative contributions we can make, said Timothy May, parent and local school council member at Ray. “We dodged a bullet, but being a point off may have helped us get the kick in the pants we need to improve.”
Parents and teachers in attendance began brainstorming ways to improve their status.
Hill said more focus should be on instruction and that she will increase her classroom visitations.
Sasha Austin Schmidt, Latin teacher at Ray, said if parents read to their children at night that would help raise literacy levels and increase reading scores.
May said parents could help by making sure their children complete homework assignments and think about offering weekly incentives to their children in order to motivate them to get to school on time.
“This is not a doomsday conversation,” May said. “It’s just a reminder to do what we can where we can.”