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).

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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).

Community Trust CEO Mazany cites SchoolCuts

“The very day that CPS announced the school closing list, that evening a group of software coders put up the site,” says Terry Mazany, President and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, who had also served as interim CEO of the Chicago Public Schools in 2010.

“They had aggregated all the datasets about school performance. And geomapped the schools that are on the list for closing …. That’s the sort of service you would hope that government might provide but these groups did it out of a sense of community service,” he says.

“They had this site up and running — and it is masterful.” 

Read more:

Elnaz quoted in Tribune article

Excerpted from the Trib’s story, School closings: A closer look at CPS strategy, Elnaz is quoted in the fourth paragraph shown below (italics), commenting on the use of Value Added scores in determining which schools to close.

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At the 25 schools whose students are being moved to a school at the same performance level, CPS considered additional criteria.

Adam Anderson, CPS’ officer of portfolio, planning and strategy, said the district looked for the receiving school to outscore the closing school on at least three of four measures: a higher percentage score within the performance rating; composite meets or exceeds score on the ISAT; an improvement metric for reading; and another one for math.

With two of the four measures dealing directly with improvement, schools with solid scores that dipped slightly in some cases fared worse than poorly performing schools that could show improvement.

Elnaz Moshfeghian of Open Data Institute, which helps produce the “Schoolcuts” blog to study the data surrounding CPS’ school closings, said a closer look at that controversial improvement metric shows it changes for schools year to year.

“It’s been called a noisy number,” Moshfeghian said. “It is not a reliable and stable school metric and should not be half the reason why one school stays open and the other closes. You wonder why it’s being used at all.”

Anderson said the improvement, or value-added, score did not carry significant weight as the district decided which schools to close.

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

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Full story at