We are thrilled to share that the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) has earned a Level 1 rating from Chicago Public Schools.
A Level 1 rating signifies “high performance, a good school choice with many positive qualities,” including admirable academic growth and attainment from a diverse student body, as well as attendance and the quality of our school’s student data recordkeeping.
Digging Into The Data
AGC’s Reading program was a standout from this report – our students’ growth on the NWEA MAP Reading test was better than 80% of schools nationally and our 2nd graders’ attainment on the Reading test was better than 90% of schools nationally.
Our students’ overall growth on the NWEA Math test was better than 60% of schools nationally and Math attainment was better than 52% of schools nationally.
In the Hispanic student priority group, our students performed better than 73% of U.S. schools in reading and better than 58% of U.S. schools in math.
Our average daily attendance rate of 96.2% is better than 90% of schools in our district. This is a data point we take great pride in, considering AGC a longer year and longer days than the CPS average.
In terms of comparative data, we find it most useful to look at the schools our students would most likely attend if AGC were not an option. AGC’s student growth was significant when compared to other single-site charter elementary schools, schools which are most likely to be similar to us in their operations and management, because they are also not supported by a network or district in fundraising, administration, and other crucial areas.
Student Growth, Compared to Single-Site Chicago Charter Schools
When compared to other non-selective schools in our surrounding community where most of our families live, and which have similar demographics, AGC emerges as a top choice.
Student Growth, Compared to Area Schools With Similar Demographics
SQRP Rating System
Level 1 is the second highest of five levels in Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) new School Quality Rating Program (SQRP,) which gives every Chicago Public School a rating of Level 1+, Level 1, Level 2+, Level 2, or Level 3. CPS moved from the 3 Tier to the 5 Level SQRP system in the 2014-2015 school year. Unlike the 3 Tier system, which used historical district data from the Illinois focused ISAT test, SQRP uses national benchmarks from the NWEA MAP test. The SQRP rating also looks at a broader range of metrics that include growth within certain priority groups.
Growth and Adaptation
In just one year, AGC has gone from a Level 2 to a Level 1 school rating, skipping past Level 2+. AGC families, faculty and staff were confused and concerned after AGC’s Level 2 rating during the first year of the SQRP (School Quality Rating Program) system last year, since the school had historically achieved Tier 1 status using the old system. Since the Level 2 rating was generated using projected scores and incomplete data, due to AGC’s small sample size in many areas, an adjusted score was later produced using actual scores in place of projected scores to calculate growth, and, while the corrected score was a significant increase, it did not change AGC’s SQRP “Level.” Our community was elated by the news of our Level 1 status. Parents celebrated on facebook, thanking “teachers, parents, and students for all their hard work” and proclaiming “AGC is the place to be!”
After the first district-wide implementation of the NWEA MAP test in the 2013-2014 school year, our educators were concerned about how our students were performing on the nationally-normed test. Many professional development hours were spent pouring over student data and we significantly increased our focus on supporting educators through coaching. Looking critically at the role of the “Teachers’ Assistant,” we developed a new title, “Instructional Interventionist” to reflect an intensified focus on interventions with students who needed extra help in math or literacy. Our Instructional Leadership Team took on more coaching duties, working with educators to help them address achievement gaps in Math, Literacy and second language attainment.
AGC’s leap from a Level 2 to a Level 1 school should be credited, in large part, to the responsiveness of our staff in providing support where needed. AGC’s Literacy Intervention Specialist and Founding Teacher, Meredith McNamara, has done a truly incredible job working with our students, teachers, and instructional interventionists to help all our students develop a love of and confidence with reading.
A Critical Approach to Assessment
It is critically important to acknowledge that standardized assessments like the NWEA MAP assessment and SQRP ratings are just a small part of assessing student learning, and that, while these scores can be valuable, they are not representative of all that we do, and all that we admire about our students and staff. I know our kids are learning so much more that can’t be tested,” commented a parent upon hearing of AGC’s Level 1 SQRP rating.
One teacher shared this letter with their students, which so perfectly captured our position on standardized tests that it has since been included in our faculty and staff handbook.
“Please remember that strangers gave you these scores. And that there are many ways of being smart.
These strangers do not know that you can speak two languages. They do not know that you can play the violin or dance or paint a picture. They do not know that you take care of your little brother after school, that your friends can count on you to be there for them, that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day.
They do not know that you write poetry, wonder about black holes, or know exactly how much change you should get when you go to the market.
They do not know that you are trustworthy, that you are kind, that you are thoughtful. They do not know that you spent your summer with a 700-page Harry Potter book.
They do not know you. But we who know you — your moms and dads, your grandparents and teachers, your neighbors and friends — are proud of all you are and all you will be. Scores will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything. There are many ways of being smart.”
At AGC, we feel that assessment is integral to all teaching and learning. It is central to the AGC’s and the IB’s goal of thoughtfully and effectively guiding children through the five essential elements of learning: the understanding of concepts, the acquisition of knowledge, the mastering of skills, the development of attitudes and the decision to take responsible action. Our assessment plan covers a broad range of approaches, from intuitive to the more objective and scientific. It is essential that these assessments be seen as a package since they have been selected in order to provide a range of approaches and therefore to provide a balanced view of the child.
AGC therefore uses multiple forms of assessment that can be combined to inform teachers and students’ families of student progress, including student portfolios, exhibitions, grade-specific assessments and a range of standardized assessments in addition to the NWEA MAP. Every piece of work a child creates can give us insight into what next steps can be provided to the child to further their learning.