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CTU produces research on issues important to our members and to all public education advocates.

The Impact of Early Childhood Testing

The “one-size-fits-all,” “drill and kill” approach being pushed is creeping its way into early childhood education. Chicago Public Schools has expanded the required and optional testing for young children, placing importance on continuous assessment through standardized testing and benchmarks. These tests include REACH, Teaching Standards GOLD and Quarterly Benchmark Performance Tasks. Matching the standardization trend in high school education, testing is being used as the foremost indicator of student performance.

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A Tale of Two Schools: The Human Story Behind the Destructive School Actions in Chicago

On December 28, 2011, Simon Guggenheim Elementary School paraprofessional and homeless education coordinator Sherri Parker received an alarming call from one of her students’ parents. The student’s mother informed Parker that shortly before Christmas, the school had called her and recommended she transfer her child to another school. On the West Side, Jacob Beidler Elementary faced similar worries. In 2011, CPS announced its intention to close the East Garfield Park neighborhood school and hand its building over to a charter school.

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Nothing But Net (Profits)

The city of Chicago has been good to Jerry Reinsdorf. Support from a large fan base has helped Reinsdorf transform the Bulls and White Sox into two of the most successful sports franchises in North America, with a combined value of $1.2 billion and over $70 million in total annual operating income as of 2012. This report offers a case study in why calls for increased accountability need to be directed at the corporate profiteers who make it impossible to equitably fund local public education, instead of at hard-working and dedicated teachers.

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Value-Added Education Hurts Teaching

From Education Week: As in other professions, good evaluation starts with rigorous, ongoing assessment by experts who review teachers’ instruction based on professional standards. Evaluators look at classroom practice, plus evidence of student outcomes from classroom work and school or district assessments. Studies show that feedback from this kind of evaluation improves student achievement, because it helps teachers get better at what they do. Systems that sponsor peer assistance and review programs also identify poor teachers, provide them intensive help, and effectively remove them if they don’t improve.

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Debunking the Myths of Standardized Testing (PDF)

The “business model” approach to education is data obsessed and purports that the solution to inequities in education is to fire teachers whose students have low test scores and reward teachers whose students have high test scores. They continue to promote top down approaches to quick fixes, ignoring decades of research. The way to achieve sustainable improvement is through long‐term processes such as developing teaching quality, empowering community and families, mandating smaller class sizes, improving resource access for schools and communities in need, and implementing a joyous, critical, inquiry‐based and creative learning experience for students.

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Chicago schools’ class sizes among the highest in the state

This CTU analysis of Illinois average classroom sizes showed early grade classrooms in the city are larger than those in 95 percent of the districts in the rest of the state. The analysis, using Illinois State Board of Education data, found that classrooms in Chicago’s public high schools have the fifth highest class size compared to other districts in Illinois.

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Class Size: Quick Facts and Resources

A collection of facts and resources on class size compiled by CTU in 2011. Learn about the effects of class size and related issues from studies like the Tennessee STAR project, and from both popular and peer-reviewed sources.

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Pay for Performance (Merit Pay) Is Not the Answer (PDF)

Overwhelming evidence of research on the use of merit pay, or pay for performance, to improve student achievement shows that such incentive schemes do not work. They fail because they ignore or undermine the collaboration, experience-based growth and supportive school and community environment essential to teacher growth.

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Promoting Quality Instruction: Teacher Evaluation or Teacher Collaboration?

Dedicated, highly effective teachers play an important role in guaranteeing that all students receive the best possible education. Other school factors (e.g., leadership, curriculum, collaboration) are also significant, while non-school factors, including family income, health, mobility, hunger and stress, account for two-thirds of variation in student achievement. Instead of seeking solutions for these social issues, government at all levels, the business community and corporate media have turned their attention to teachers.

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