More confusion about CPS closing criteria

Value-added scores alone would not have made a school higher-performing. If you look at total weighting, in our best three of four measures it’s much further weighted toward ISAT measures than value added.

—CPS’ Officer of Portfolio Planning and Strategy, Adam Anderson, quoted in a recent Chicago Tribune article.


CPS categorizes welcoming schools as “higher-performing” based on one of two sets of criteria:

1.The welcoming school must be at a higher Performance Policy Level than its respective closing school (with Level 1 being the highest, based on the total number of Performance Policy points). Value-added scores account for 15% of a school’s total Performance Policy points (a maximum of six out of a possible 42 points).

— or —

2. If two schools are at the same level, one is deemed “higher performing” if it is better on three of the following four criteria:  a) Percentage of points on the CPS Performance Policy, b) Percentage of students meeting or exceeding the ISAT composite, c) Value added reading score, and d) Value added math score. By this criteria, a Level 3 school can be called “higher performing” than another Level 3 school, as if to say it’s a “better bad” school.



When Adam Anderson states that “value-added scores alone would not have made a school higher-performing,” he was probably talking about the impact of value-added on determining a school’s Level (1, 2, or 3).  (More information on CPS’ Performance Policy.)

However, he adds “if you look at total weighting, in our best three of four measures it’s much further weighted toward ISAT measures than value-added.”

Here he is mistaken, because value-added accounts for two of the four measures he references and is itself based on ISAT scores. CPS explains value-added as the district measure of growth on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT).


The second set of criteria has been used to justify closing 24 schools.  In the case of five of the schools (Altgeld, Delano, Goodlow, Manierre, Mayo) the receiving school met the “three out of four criteria” by including both value-added measures, reading and math. In the 19 other cases the receiving school was higher on at least one of the value-added measures.

In moving from CPS’ original criteria of higher performing (e.g. Level 1, 2, or 3) to their redefined “better bad” criteria (e.g. higher on three of four metrics a, b, c, and d above) CPS essentially reweighted the impact of value-added in 19 cases from 15% to 33% (a, b, with c or d) and in five cases, to 66% (a or b, with c and d).

The data behind

All of the data that powers comes from the websites of the Chicago Public Schools, the Illinois State Board of Education, or the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute. It’s often challenging to find education data. When you do, it can be in easy-to-use formats such as spreadsheets or must be input manually from PDFs or images.

It took the SchoolCuts team many hours pull the data together; to spare others the work, we are posting it in a Google spreadsheet at

We used Fusion Tables, Excel, and old-fashioned hand input to compile the data, so if you notice any errors or discrepancies (or if you have any questions) please let us know.

SchoolCuts Data Screenshot

Watch SchoolCuts for latest closing information

The final list of schools that are expected to be closed will be published by CPS soon. Keep an eye on SchoolCuts today—and over the next few days—as we release easy-to-understand data about the receiving schools and provide comparisons with closing schools.

We are also putting together a list of the receiving schools for which amenities such as air conditioning will need to be installed to meet CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s promise to students who are transferred.


Photo by Jeanne Marie Olson. Pictured from left to right: Josh Kalov, Anna Marie Tamayo, Elnaz Moshfeghian

Our team worked from 5 pm Wednesday until 4:15 this morning manually entering data about receiving schools that CPS does not release in machine readable formats and writing code to support the visualizations that will present that data. We will release pages about each receiving school today and provide comparisons between each school being closed and possible receiving schools as soon as we can after that.

With help from school data experts, we will also be posting commentary in this blog about specific aspects of the data that CPS has used to justify its closing decisions.