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CONTACT: Lena Parsons, for Access Living
773-425-0725
parsonslena@gmail.com


Renaissance 2010 and students with disabilities

Report finds students with disabilities do no better in Renaissance 2010 Schools

(Chicago)
-- Today, Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago released Renaissance 2010 and Students with Disabilities, a report that tracks performance outcomes of students with disabilities at Renaissance 2010 Schools. The report finds that while “Renaissance 2010 was developed by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) as a way to substantially improve schools that had fallen far below academic standards,” the performance of students with disabilities in Renaissance 2010 Schools has not improved. The report tracks the performance of students with disabilities in new schools created through Renaissance 2010, compares that performance with students with disabilities who attend traditional schools, and makes recommendations for improving the performance of students with disabilities.

The report delivers seven different findings and recommendations that address the findings. The findings cover various issues, including overall performance of students with disabilities compared to students without disabilities; transition services offered to students with disabilities; reading intervention programs; and disciplinary processes.

The report finds that CPS often failed to account for students with disabilities in the planning processes. One major finding concludes that from 2006-2007 “all CPS-approved proposals lacked clearly defined reading intervention and remediation programs targeting students with disabilities.” Of the high school proposals, only one discussed “supportive transition services for students with disabilities.” As a result, though the performance of general education students at Renaissance 2010 Schools has improved compared to traditional schools, the performance of students with disabilities has not.

One key recommendation from the Access Living report urges the Chicago Public Schools to include students with disabilities in all future programmatic proposals and to reject all new proposals that fail to include students with disabilities. Access Living hopes to use recommendations from the report to affect changes within the Renaissance 2010 Program, including the inclusion of disability specific services in future RFP’s.

Three other key recommendations from the report include:

All Renaissance 2010 schools must have clearly established reading intervention programs targeting students with disabilities to be eligible for either approval or renewal.
All Renaissance 2010 schools as part of their contracts and contract renewals with CPS must include clearly defined programs for students with more significant disabilities who require higher levels of services.
All high school level Renaissance 2010 proposals that do not put forth a serious, detailed plan for developing and implementing transition services should not be approved and existing schools should not be renewed if transition services are not in place.

“Whether it be reading intervention or transition services, if students with disabilities are not integrated into the original plan of the program, then students with disabilities will fall behind,” said Rodney Estvan, Access Living’s Education Policy Coordinator, who is the lead author of the report. “In order for CPS to realize the original intent of the Renaissance 2010, they have to start including students with disabilities in all new proposals and program development plans.”

To compile the report, Access Living compared data from 37 Renaissance 2010 schools with data from all CPS schools. In addition to the comparative analysis, Access Living reviewed 20 Requests for Proposals for Renaissance Schools opening in fall of 2007 and 2008, and reviewed two reports in the original creation of the Renaissance 2010 Program. Regarding the original reports, one from the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club and one from the Illinois Facilities Fund, Access Living Renaissance 2010’s report concludes, “The omission of students with disabilities in these reports significantly reduced the importance of meeting the needs of students with disabilities when Renaissance 2010 was created.”

Chicago’s only center for independent living, Access Living is a cross disability organization, nationally recognized as a leader in the field of independent living and a premier local provider of services for people with disabilities.

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Established in 1980, Access Living is a change agent committed to fostering an inclusive society that enables Chicagoans with disabilities to live fully–engaged and self–directed lives. Nationally recognized as a leading force in the disability advocacy community, Access Living challenges stereotypes, protects civil rights and champions social reform.