Gale School just received some great news: Chicago Public Schools (CPS) informed Principal Cassandra Washington and me yesterday that the school will receive direct support from the Office of Strategic School Support Services (OS4), which provides early-intervention programs for high-need schools.
hands-on support for principals and teachers, offering intense and comprehensive professional development tailored to the specific needs of the school. In short, OS4 is a reasonable and balanced approach that addresses a school’s serious academic challenges, but falls short of firing the entire staff.
OS4 schools receive leadership and instructional coaches that will help the staff sustain the new practices and improve performance. OS4 schools also often receive capital improvements to their buildings.
Gale’s OS4 designation arose out of conversations I had last summer with Principal Washington, Gale LSC member Kyle Hillman and high-level CPS administrators. All of us recognized that Gale was not performing at an acceptable academic level and that the additional guidance and support of OS4 was needed.
After receiving assurances from Principal Washington that she and her staff were ready and able to do the intensive work needed to put themselves on a path toward success, I submitted a formal request to CPS for OS4 designation. Principal Washington and I received word yesterday from CPS that they had granted our request.
OS4 will partner with Gale for up to three years, and its support and services are designed to build the capacity of Gale to sustain improvements beyond the program. In addition, Gale will be responsible for meeting or exceeding annual school-specific benchmarks established by CPS.
CPS Chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett created OS4 last year to provide high-risk schools with guidance and tools necessary to increase those schools’ overall performance. Last year, twenty-two “reinvestment schools” became part of the OS4 program. Standardized reading test scores rose at all the OS4 schools, and math scores went up in 18 of them.
I am very confident that with the support of the teachers and principal, Gale will meet with similar success. I will keep you posted.