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Chicago district wants to impose greater accountability on charter schools

Policy change would hold charter schools to the same standards as district-run campuses

The Chicago public school system says is recommending placing 10 charter schools on an academic warning list that could lead to the schools' closing if performance does not significantly improve.

The announcement came as the district unveiled an proposed change in policy with a goal of holding charters to the same academic standards as district-run schools.

“Establishing high-quality school options in every neighborhood throughout Chicago is among our highest priorities, but we cannot make that a reality without a rigorous accountability policy that holds every public school in Chicago to the same standard,” says Forrest Claypool, district CEO.

Under the proposed policy, any charter that has a Level 3 School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) rating, a two-year SQRP point value average of 2.5 or lower, or a Level 2 rating in three consecutive years will be placed on the Academic Warning List.

Schools placed on the list must improve their performance or risk losing their charter. Schools on the list will be required to submit a written remediation plan, and if a school does not meet the terms of its plan in one year, it will be recommended for charter revocation. A charter will also be recommended for revocation if it is on the warning list for two consecutive years.

The school board will decide on the policy at its meeting later this week. The district has identified 10 charter schools that meet the criteria for placement on the warning list. Three of those 10 were on last year’s warning list and could have their charter contracts revoked if the district determines they have not met the terms of their remediation plans.

Officials say the proposed policy aims to ensure that only high-performing charter operators are allowed to replicate and expand.

“By limiting charter expansion to only the best operators and proposals, we can be confident that proven programs are being established in parts of the city where quality options are needed,” says Janice Jackson, the school system's chief education officer.

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