Though it’s been open only three and a half years, George Westinghouse College Prep (GWCP) has already received the highest rating awarded by Chicago Public Schools for student academic growth and performance.
George Westinghouse College Prep is already exceeding student growth expectations. Principal Janice Jackson (standing) is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago Urban Leadership doctoral program.
Located in Chicago’s East Garfield Park community, GWCP is considered a Level 1 selective high school based, in part, on scores from the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE), which is administered to eleventh-grade students, as well as scores on ACT Explore® and ACT Plan®. The Illinois State Board of Education’s PSAE includes the ACT® college readiness assessment and two ACT WorkKeys® assessments, Applied Mathematics and Reading for Information.
“Through the hard work of our students, families, and staff, GWCP is solidifying its place as one of the top schools in the district and the nation,” said Principal Janice Jackson. “Our academic gains have outpaced those of any new school in the district. We are consistently demonstrating substantial growth in student achievement.”
GWCP serves 1,115 students in grades nine through twelve who come from nearly 300 public and private schools throughout Chicago. The majority of students are African American or Hispanic, and approximately 80 percent receive low-cost or free lunches.
“We have been able to attract some of the brightest students from all over the city despite some of the challenges of our location,” said Jackson. “It speaks to the quality of our instructional program that some parents, though wary of the area, are still willing to send their kids here because they’ve seen how much progress we’ve made in our short tenure.”
Jackson attributes much of the school’s academic success to a rigorous curriculum that is aligned to ACT College Readiness Standards and College Readiness Benchmarks. Teachers design their curriculum around the College Readiness Standards and collaborate to deliver a high-quality education program. Students are required to take four years of college prep courses, including English, mathematics, science, social studies, and world language, and can also select from a variety of electives.
“What’s unique about GWCP is that we have a large minority and low-income population, and yet our students are meeting and exceeding college readiness standards and benchmarks,” she said. “It’s not enough that our students meet the benchmarks. They are already doing that when they take the entrance exams. Instead, we are constantly looking at whether our curriculum is sufficiently preparing students for future success.”
GWPC educators track academic growth from student scores on ACT assessments: ninth graders take ACT Explore, tenth graders take ACT Plan, and eleventh graders take the ACT. More than 90 percent of GWCP’s freshmen and sophomores are on track to graduate on time. In spring 2012, juniors took the ACT for the first time, averaging an ACT Composite score of 20, which is on par with state and national averages.
“With our students meeting and exceeding growth rates on standardized tests, we can honestly say that a student is better off attending GWCP than a comparable school,” said Jackson.
ABOUT CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOL RATINGS
The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Performance, Remediation, and Probation Policy gives points to schools for various levels of performance and progress on a wide range of metrics and assigns a performance level (1, 2, or 3) based on the number of points earned.
George Westinghouse College Prep (GWCP) earned a Level 1 rating, in part, because its student growth is “above average” compared to similar schools in the district, and its student performance is “about average” compared to schools nationally.
In addition, CPS rated the school’s culture and climate as “well organized for improvement,” suggesting it is set up for success. Results are based on student and teacher responses to a survey. GWCP rated strong to very strong in the areas of involved families, supportive environment, ambitious instruction, effective leaders, collaborative teachers, and safety. GWCP was the only Chicago public high school rated strong or very strong on every indicator.
DUAL ENROLLMENT OPTIONS
George Westinghouse College Prep is the first Chicago Public High School with dual enrollment options for students—“Selective Enrollment” or “College to Careers.” Both are based on academic standing and an enrollment entrance exam. Of the approximately 7,000 students who applied for admission into the two programs in 2012–2013, GWCP accepted 300.