The University of Chicago News Office
March 22, 2006 Press Contact: William Harms
(773) 702-8356

University of Chicago to open new high school in Woodlawn

The Chicago Public Schools Board of Education on Wednesday, March 22, approved a site for the University of Chicago to create a high school campus in the nearby Woodlawn neighborhood as an expansion of the highly successful University of Chicago Charter School.

The new high school, to be called Woodlawn High School campus, will be located in the Wadsworth facility, 6420 S. University Avenue, sharing space with the existing Wadsworth School. The new high school aims to prepare students who are eager to learn and willing to work hard for success in four-year colleges. In addition to taking challenging course work, the students will have an opportunity to work under the guidance of University faculty on research projects in the humanities, social sciences and environmental sciences, said Barbara Crock, Director of the new high school.

“The new school will ensure that interested students, regardless of their tested eligibility, develop the habits of mind, work and heart to be successful in college as well as leaders of their communities,” said Crock. “The school is an essential part of the University’s broader Urban Education Initiative, designed to bring the research capacity of the University to bear on the challenges of primary and secondary education,” said University Provost Richard Saller.

“We view this school as the latest example of the important partnership between the University and Woodlawn,” said Henry Webber, Vice-President for Community and Government Relations at the University of Chicago and Chair of the University of Chicago Charter School Governing Board. “Other aspects of this partnership include expansion of the University police service area into Woodlawn, investment in affordable housing and becoming a junior partner to community groups in the development of a five-year plan to improve the quality of life in Woodlawn.”

Alderman Arenda Troutman, whose 20th Ward includes Woodlawn, said, “This is a very important step for Woodlawn. This new school will be a meaningful asset for our community. We cannot forget about the other schools in Woodlawn, however, and I am pleased that the University will continue to collaborate with them as well.”

The high school campus of the University of Chicago Charter School has received more than 500 applications for 160 openings. A public lottery will be held to select new high school students on Thursday, March 23 at 1:30 p.m. at the North Kenwood/Oakland Campus; 1119 E. 46th St. In addition to North Kenwood/Oakland, the University of Chicago Charter School has a campus at Donoghue, 707 East 37th St., which opened last fall. The high school will give priority to applicants who are eighth-grade students at NKO, applicants who live in the high school’s attendance area and applicants who are siblings of students at the University of Chicago Charter School. The attendance zone, requested by Woodlawn community leaders, was approved by the CPS board on March 22. The boundary is essentially from 60th Street to 67th Street and from Stony Island Avenue to Evans Avenue.

The school will serve grades six through 12 and will build upon the best design elements of the NKO and Donoghue as well as the expertise of the University’s Center for Urban School Improvement, which provides leadership, professional development and other support to the University of Chicago Charter School campuses. The new high school is supported by Chicagoans Ken and Anne Griffin and a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which funds new secondary schools throughout the country, said Timothy Knowles, Executive Director of the Center for Urban School Improvement.

“We are proud to support the University of Chicago Center for Urban School Improvement in providing a high quality education to 600 Chicago-area high school students and believe this initiative will serve as a model for improvement across the country,” the couple said.

Veteran educator and Director Barbara Crock has 14 years of experience as a former mathematics teacher, instructional improvement coach and high school administrator in public schools in Chicago, Boston and San Francisco. Victoria Woodley, who also has extensive experience in Chicago public schools, is the director of academic and social supports.

The new school will enroll 50 students in sixth grade and 110 students in ninth grade in the 2006-2007 school year. Each year, as students progress through the grades, the school will grow until it reaches its full enrollment of 590 students in grades 6-12 in the 2009-2010 school year. The first class will graduate in 2010. Students at the new campus will study issues of importance to the city of Chicago, especially the historic South Side, and will contribute the products of their research to a digital library that members of the community will be able to access. The campus will also serve as a professional development site where teachers and principals will gather to study improvements in teaching and learning.

The school day will run from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. to provide time for coursework and study and enable students to participate in co-curricular activities. The students will attend school for 190 days, two weeks longer than Chicago Public Schools students.

The curriculum and graduation requirements are linked to college entrance requirements. Students will study algebra in the eighth grade. Between ninth grade and graduation, students must complete three years of laboratory science and social sciences, and, by taking double periods during the freshman year, they will study English and mathematics for five years. Multiple assessments will enable the faculty to continually answer the questions: Are the students learning? How do we know?

Students will participate in single-gender advisories and work with an adult mentor through high school. A comprehensive college readiness program will insure students are well-prepared for the transition to college. The University of Chicago Charter School has been able to achieve great success. In 2004-2005, three-fourths or more of its third-, fifth- and eighth-grade students met or exceeded state standards in mathematics while half or more met or exceeded state standards in reading.
Last modified at 03:17 PM CST on Friday, March 24, 2006.

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