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Stories by Matt Masterson

Tutor Group Helps Principals Transition from PARCC to ‘New’ SAT Exam

As high school juniors across Illinois prepare to take the SAT exam next April, a local tutoring group is helping school leaders prepare for a shift away from the maligned Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test.

UIC Hoping to Boost STEM Inclusion Through New Grant Program

(Nicholas James / Wikimedia Commons)

A new two-year grant program will seek out new community-based methods of getting minorities and women involved in science, technology, engineering and math careers.

University of Chicago Ranked Among Top Colleges in US

Julius Rosenwald Hall at the University of Chicago (Chuck Szmurlo / Wikimedia)

The University of Chicago tied for third place in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 collegiate rankings, up one spot from where it stood in each of the previous two years.

Aldermen, Public Make Voices Heard on Proposed TIF Funding For CPS

(Parents 4 Teachers)

A proposed change to city law that could divert tens of millions in tax incremental financing (TIF) dollars to the cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools will likely undergo some additional changes before it comes to City Council for approval.

Former CPS Buildings Getting New Life As Residential Apartments

The former Mulligan Elementary School in Lincoln Park has been transformed into residential apartments as part of the city's plan to redevelop shuttered CPS buildings. (Courtesy of Chicago Department of Planning and Development)

Shuttered classrooms and long-closed gymnasiums will soon give way to multi-bedroom suites and rooftop decks overlooking the city skyline as area developers work to resurrect buildings that once served as Chicago Public Schools.

CPS Progress Report Highlights Gains in On-Track, Dropout Rates

Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Matt Masterson / Chicago Tonight)

Students at Chicago Public Schools have steadily improved their attendance and on-track-to-graduate rates while trimming back their annual dropout rate over the past five years, according to a new district progress report.

Laid Off CPS Teacher: ‘I’m Not as Optimistic This Time’

Educator Faces Prospect of Another Year Outside the Classroom

(Matt Masterson / Chicago Tonight)

Classes resumed Tuesday for students across Chicago, but many of the 500-plus teachers laid off in August could be left outside the classroom this school year.

CPS Announces Record-High Graduation Rate for Class of 2016

(jeco / Flickr)

Nearly three out of four seniors within Chicago Public Schools earned their diplomas in 2016 – a district record – as graduation rates increased across neighborhood, charter and traditional high schools.

Dyett High School Reopening 1 Year After Activist Hunger Strike

Doors at the school will reopen next week in Bronzeville for the first time since the 2014-15 school year. Chicago Public Schools announced last fall the school would be transformed into a neighborhood school focused on arts.

Suspended Blaine Principal Troy LaRaviere Announces Resignation

Former Blaine Elementary Principal Troy LaRaviere announced Tuesday he was stepping away from the school four month after he was suspended by CPS. (Chicago Tonight)

Troy LaRaviere announced Tuesday he has resigned his position at Blaine Elementary – which was recently named among the top public schools in Chicago – four months after he was suspended, blaming Mayor Rahm Emanuel and "political obstructions."

New Documentary Highlights Students’ Efforts to Keep School Open

Movie poster for the documentary “Saving Barbara Sizemore” showcases student filmmakers and the film’s director.

A new documentary highlights the work of five grade schoolers who worked to keep Barbara A. Sizemore Academy open after CPS voted to shut it down late last year.

‘Nosy Neighbors’ Keeping Kids Safe on Daily School Commute

Hundreds of community members will be hired out this school year to make sure CPS students have a safe walk to and from school each day. (WBEZ / Flickr)

For the seventh straight year, children and teens will be guided along their daily commute by Safe Passage workers – community members hired out by CPS to keep watch over students during as they walk to school in the morning and back home in the afternoon.

Fewer Than Half of Students Proficient in Math, English on Statewide Exam

Math scores up, English scores down over 2015 results

The 2016 PARCC assessment showed Illinois students in grades 3-12 improved slightly in math over a year ago, but fell behind in English language arts. (Pexels)

State superintendent says there is "considerable distance to travel" to make sure students are prepared for life after high school following new PARCC assessment results.

CTU Considers October Strike if New Deal Not Struck

| Brandis Friedman
In a bulletin published this week, the Chicago Teachers Union says it will consider striking if it cannot come to an agreement with Chicago Public Schools on a new contract. (Matt Masterson / Chicago Tonight)

Without a new contract agreement with CPS, Chicago teachers are looking at their second work stoppage this year. 

Could Evidence-Based Model Fix Broken Education Funding Formula?

Five other states currently rely on evidence-based school funding, but it remains to be seen how effective it would be in Illinois. (Pexels)

Facing the largest equity gap in the country, Illinois state leaders are considering an evidence-based approach designed to ensure every student has the opportunity to succeed in the classroom.

CPS Looking to Increase Line of Credit up to $1.5 Billion

CPS is asking the Chicago Board of Education to approve an increase to its line of credit by nearly $500 million. (Publicdomainpictures)

On top of a $5.4 billion proposed budget and nearly $950 million in long-term borrowing, Chicago Public Schools is also seeking to increase its line of credit for the upcoming school year by nearly $500 million.

Speakers Question TIF Dollars, Special Ed Funding at CPS Budget Hearings

Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool speaks on Aug. 8 about cash-strapped district's proposed 2017 budget. On Friday, Claypool attended a pair of public hearings on the proposal.

Nearly two dozen speakers attended a pair of hearings Friday to voice their concerns about the district's proposed 2017 budget, questioning the morality and legality of funding cuts and staff layoffs within the cash-strapped district.

CTU Prepping Teachers for ‘Strong Possibility’ of Strike

| Paris Schutz
Email claims teachers union is "likely to strike" as it continues negotiating a new contract with Chicago Public Schools.

An email sent to Chicago teachers this week claims the union is “likely to strike” and advertises a strike training session this weekend.

CPS Seeking to Issue up to $945M in Bonds for Capital Improvements

CPS says it is looking to borrow $945 million for needed improvements to its classrooms and schools. (Public Building Commission of Chicago / Flickr)

The schools district and Chicago Board of Education have scheduled a public hearing downtown next week just before the board will vote on the bond proposal.

CPS Announces Record-High Attendance Rate

CPS students attended class last year at an average rate of 93.4 percent – a district record. (Argonne National Laboratory / Flickr)

The attendance rate at Chicago Public Schools has risen consistently since 2008 and now stands at its highest rate since at least 2003.

Officials Remind Families to Get Vaccines in Order Before New School Year

Throughout the month of August, the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health are encouraging parents and guardians statewide to get their children’s vaccinations up to date before the first day of class. (Jessica R. Vargas/Wikimedia Commons)

With less than a month before school is back in session across Illinois, parents and guardians are encouraged to get their children up to date on their immunizations soon or face a possible school suspension.

New Study Finds Teacher Pay Gap Larger Than Ever

The wage gap between teachers and other college grads has grown to a record 17 percent, a new study released this week has found. (Chicago 2016 / Flickr)

With a growing need for educators and a dwindling pool of qualified workers, teachers have seen their wages diverge significantly from their fellow college-educated professionals, according to a new report.

Budget Cuts Force Educator Layoffs in UNO Charter School Network

(Araceli Arroyo/Flickr)

The UNO Charter School Network laid off 29 union educators – including teachers, support staff and social workers – late last week as it worked to balance its 2016-17 budget and negotiate a new contract with its teachers union.

Chicago Landspout Marks City’s First Tornado in a Decade

A landspout can be seen off in the distance Tuesday just outside Midway Airport. The brief tornado was Chicago's first since 2006. (Courtesy of Melanie Harnacke)

Tornadoes had kept away from Chicago since 2006, but a brief landspout brought an end to that streak Tuesday afternoon.

New State Bill Seeking to Cut Remediation in Higher Education

The Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act will create annual benchmarks to ensure high schoolers are prepared for a college education. (Steven Sokulski/Pixabay)

State lawmakers hope newly passed legislation will help better prepare Illinois high schoolers for the rigors of a college education.