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Leading economists feature UChicago Charter School NKO as a proven, replicable initiative in book, "Restoring Opportunity"

June 5, 2014

Two of the nation’s leading economists and education scholars—Harvard University’s Richard Murnane and University of California-Irvine’s Greg Duncan—showcase the UChicago Charter School North Kenwood/Oakland Campus in their most recent book, Restoring Opportunity: The Crisis of Inequality and the Challenge for American Education, in which they highlight the nation’s most promising educational solutions. 

Duncan and Murnane lay out America’s educational challenges in a context where growing income inequality has severely diminished the life opportunities of children born into poverty. The authors then analyze three initiatives around the country that are producing real and replicable results: Boston’s preschools, New York City’s small high schools, and the UChicago Charter School’s K-5 NKO Campus.

For each program the authors find “compelling evidence not just that these initiatives have worked, but that they have done so for a significant number of years.” The book cites the study led by sociologist Stephen Raudenbush which found that compared to students who applied to NKO but were not selected in the admissions lotteries, students who enrolled at NKO scored on average 30 points higher in reading and 40 points higher in mathematics on an SAT-type scale—equivalent to closing roughly half the gap between white and black students in the United States.

The authors highlight three key features that show why the experience of UChicago Charter NKO provides promising and replicable strategies for improving outcomes in high-poverty schools:

  • Costs are well within range of a typical urban public school
  • Teacher workloads are sustainable
  • NKO’s strategy to improve reading and math isn’t unique, but instead is shared by virtually all schools that have shown long-term success in educating children from low-income families.

Duncan and Murnane’s book also exemplifies how the various divisions of the Urban Education Institute—research, policy and tools, practice, and training—integrate to deliver reliably excellent outcomes for students. Two teachers featured in the book and accompanying video are graduates of UEI’s Urban Teacher Education Program. Those UTEP alums are depicted using the STEP™ literacy program, which forms NKO’s instructional backbone and was developed by UChicago Impact, UEI’s non-profit arm that pushes the best research from UEI’s Consortium on Chicago School Research’s to practice and scale nationwide. UChicago Impact’s tools and trainings are used at all four UChicago Charter campuses in addition to schools in 55 major cities across 23 states, and thirteen percent of teachers currently at UEI’s PreK-12 campuses are UTEP graduates.

To foster dialogue among thought leaders and stakeholders on what’s really working for urban schooling, UEI will host a book talk on June 24, 2014 with Dr. Richard Murnane and an expert panel featuring:

  • Timothy Knowles, John Dewey Director of the Urban Education Institute.
  • Shayne Evans, Chief Executive Officer of the UChicago Charter School
  • Tanika Island, Chief Academic Officer of the UChicago Charter School; former Campus Director of NKO.
  • Erica Emmendorfer, Teacher at UChicago Charter NKO and a graduate of UEI's Urban Teacher Education Program.

The event aims to bring together policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, business and civic leaders—diverse stakeholders with the power to help restore opportunity for students growing up in Chicago and across urban America. Read about the June 24th event here>>