Taft receives ‘Level 1’ rating
by BRIAN NADIG
For the first time, Taft High School has been named a Level 1 school in "good standing" under the performance criteria used by the Chicago Public Schools.
Level 1 is the second highest rating that a public school can receive, as the top rating of Level 1+ usually is awarded on the high school level only to selective enrollment schools. Taft is a neighborhood school which must accept any student who lives within its attendance area.
"Taft has a 3.7," Taft principal Mark Grishaber said. "We need a 4.0 to be Level 1+, and you know that will be our next goal. Credit goes to my teachers, staff and students."
Under the school quality rating policy, a school’s success is measured on several factors, including student attendance, academic growth and school culture. The five performance ratings are 1+, 1, 2+, 2 and 3.
In 2013-14, Taft was Level 2+, which like Level 1 is considered to be in "good standing" under the ratings policy. Level 1 schools must have a score between 3.5 and 3. 9 or be no lower than the 70th percentile in attainment, while Level 2+ schools must have a score between 3.0 and 3.4 or be no lower than the 50th percentile in attainment.
"Ninety-seven percent of our kinds are accepted to college," Grishaber said. "About 75 percent actually go, but some take a year off and then go." Grishaber said that the completion rate of Taft’s graduates who go to college is 78 percent, which is above the national average.
In his second year as principal, Grishaber has initiated new policies which he said are designed to change the culture of Taft and to get the students to take ownership of the school. He recently said that disciplinary issues have declined significantly and that the attendance rate in the past 2 years has increased from 89.6 percent to 92 percent.
For the 2014-15 school year, 170 elementary schools and high schools were rated Level 1+, 162 were Level 1, 119 were Level 2+, 174 were Level 2, and 23 were Level 3.
Three selective enrollment high schools in the area, Northside Prep, Lane Tech and Von Steuben, and one charter school, Northtown Academy, were rated Level 1+, and Chicago Academy, which is a Chicago Public Schools-contracted high school that offers a preparation program for aspiring teachers, was Level 1. Mather was rated Level 2+, and Schurz, Steinmetz and Roosevelt were Level 2.