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Slashing Budgets: Destroying Students’ Futures?
Designs for Change, October 2006
© Designs for Change


Report documents harms to specific children with disabilities of the June 2006 decision of the Chicago Board to cut 200 special education teachers and 750 teacher aides to balance the school system’s budget. The cuts are particularly inappropriate due to extremely low achievement and graduation rates for students with disabilities documented in the report.

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Complaint Procedure

The Big Picture: School-Initated Reforms, Centrally Initiated Reforms, and Elementary School Achievement in Chicago (1990 to 2005)
Designs for Change, September 2005
© Designs for Change

—The study found major achievement gains in 144 public K-8 inner city grade schools - all of them lowachieving in 1990 - that have, on average, moved from 20% above the national average in 1990 to the national average of 50% . These schools are 87% low-income and serve 100,000 students - a network of radically improved schools in Chicago as large as the entire Baltimore school system.

—Research by DFC and others indicates the distinctive practices of these “Substantially Up Schools,” making it possible for other schools to learn from their success.

--The study found no significant impact on achievment of three expensive central office initiatives: school probation, grade retention (flunking), and the assignment of Reading Specialists to low-achieving schools.

—Study recommendations focus on the city’s most overlooked resource: the city’s large network of Substantially Up Schools that operate almost entirely in anonymity.

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Studies Show that Chicago Grade Retention Program is a Failure
In April 2004, the Consortium on Chicago School Research released two studies that indicate that Chicago's highly touted program to "end social promotion" has failed.

Read a detailed comment on the most recent Consortium studies from DFC.
Visit DFC's web section on Grade Retention, Flunking, and High-Stakes Testing, which includes Dr. Ernest House's 1998 paper, The Predictable Failure of Chicago's Student Retention Program.

The Consortium's most recent research indicates that the Chicago program has led to the two results that have been characteristic of other large-scale programs that require students to repeat a grade.
-- Retained students have not done better academically than similar low-achieving students who were not retained. In some respects, they have done worse.
— Retained students were 29% more likely to drop out of high school than similar low-achieving students who were not retained.
— Both retention and social promotion are failures. Both policies leave students far below the levels of academic achievement that they will need to succeed subsequently in school.

One clear implication of these results is that school districts must move beyond both retention and social promotion. They must invest the millions of dollars that a retention program wastes by implementing research-based alternatives that work. These alternatives include, for example, restructuring the school program during the school day and year (as many high-achieving Chicago inner city schools, like Carson Elementary School, have already done), preparing teachers to carry out early intervention to address students' academic problems, and, as a last resort, promoting students but giving them intensive special help, rather than retaining them.

Crisis: An Alarming Percentage of Hispanic Youth in the Chicago Metro Area Are Dropouts and Jobless
By Donald R. Moore, October 2003

© Designs for Change
A fact sheet that summarizes and spotlights the alarming crisis for Hispanic youth in both the city of Chicago and the Metro Area outside Chicago. For example, one-third of Hispanic youth in the Chicago Metro Area (88,000 young people) lack a high school diploma.
Read or download a pdf file of the fact sheet here

Rachel Carson Elementary School: An Exemplary Urban School That Teaches Children to Read
By Matthew R. Hanson and Donald R. Moore, September 2003

© Designs for Change
An in-depth research study that analyzes how Chicago's Carson Elementary School has achieved exceptional student achievement results-- with a special emphasis on how Carson teaches children to read.
Carson's 1,240 students are 99% low-income, and two-thirds of them speak little or no English when they enter school. Yet in spring 2003, 68% of Carson's eighth graders met or exceeded the national average on the Iowa Reading Test, and 73% did the same in math.
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Chicago's Local School Councils: What the Research Says
By Donald R. Moore and Gail Merritt, January 2002

© Designs for Change
There is a significant body of solid research about Chicago's Local School Councils -- much of which contradicts prevailing opinions and stereotypes, which also pinpoints weaknesses that must be addressed. DFC's recent report
briefly summarizes this research.
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Changing the Ground Rules
By Donald R. Moore, Ed.D.
This article, published in the July/August 2001 issue of Shelterforce magazine, describes the recent history of school reform in Chicago.

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National Test Experts Find Basic Flaws in Chicago's Use of Iowa Tests to Make Critical Decisions about Students and Schools

Donald R. Moore and Matthew Hanson, April 30, 2001
© Designs for Change

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Chicago Test Score Research Shows That School-Level Initiative Brings the Largest Sustained Reading Gains:
Evidence Indicates the Need for "Phase Three" of Chicago School Reform
Donald R. Moore and Matthew Hanson, April 2001
© Designs for Change

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New Data About Chicago's Grade Retention Program Provides Further Proof That Neither Retention Nor Social Promotion Works —Research-Based Alternatives to Both Retention and Social Promotion Should Be Carried Out
Donald R. Moore, September 2000
© Designs for Change

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Rejoinder to Ending Social Promotion: Results from the First Two Years. Chicago's Grade Retention Program Fails to Help Chicago's Retained Students—Better Alternatives Exist to Chicago's Costly Mistake
Donald R. Moore
, December 1999
© Designs for Change

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Rethinking Retention to Help All Students Succeed:
A Resource Guide. 8 Strategies That Educate Our Children Effectively Without Social Promotion Or Retention
Davenport, Delgado, Meisels, and Moore
© Designs for Change
, November 1998
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Missing Children: Declining Enrollment in Chicago's High Schools From Fall 1995 to Fall 1998
© Designs for Change, November 1998

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What Makes These Schools Stand Out: Chicago Elementary Schools With a Seven-Year Trend of Improved Reading Achievement
© Designs for Change, November 1998

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School Reform Chicago Style: How Citizens Organized to Change Public Policy
Mary O'Connell, Spring 1991
© Center for Neighborhood Technology

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Standing Up for Children
Donald R. Moore, Sharon Weitzman Soltman, Ularsee Manar, Louis S. Steinberg, Dan S. Fogel
© Designs for Change
, 1983
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