By ALLISON MATYUS
Kenwood Academy High School was one of only two open enrollment neighborhood Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in the high school category to receive the highest score of level 1+ on school quality in 2015.
CPS releases its School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) report once a year and recently announced the 2015 ratings. The ratings are 1+, 1, 2+, 2 and 3 from highest to lowest. On average, most CPS neighborhood high schools tend to receive a level 2. In 2014, Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., received a level 1 and this year the school is celebrating its 1+ rating.
Principal Gregory Jones attributes the school’s high rating to improvements in early college credentials, ACT attainment and growth as well as college persistence. He also said their attendance rate has been at 95percent as of the end of October.
The other open enrollment neighborhood high school that received the level 1+ rating was Lincoln Park High School, 2001 N. Orchard St.
CPS uses 13 metrics to rate their high schools such as dropout rates, attendance rates, college enrollment and 4-year cohort graduation rates.
For Jones, he is proud of the Kenwood students for reaching this high standard, but said that it should be expected regardless.
“My feeling is when you visit schools and they post a lot of things about metrics, it’s a sign that they didn’t expect to do well,” he said at the monthly local school council meeting last Tuesday. “We always expect to do well, we don’t need CPS to tell us that.”
Kenwood’s SQRP rating could also be attributed to the feeder schools that Kenwood students come from within the community. Phillip Murray Language Academy, 5335 S. Kenwood Ave., received a level 1 rating; Beulah Shoesmith Elementary, 1330 E. 50th St., also stands as a level 1 school and other major feeder school for Kenwood, William H. Ray Elementary, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., is a level 2+ school.
When the students from these good standing elementary schools transition to high school, it impacts Kenwood’s performance positively.
“The schools in our community are the engine of education in Hyde Park,” Jones said. “It is good for our community knowing that we have high-quality schools.”