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School Reading Program Report:

Part 1- School and Community Information

Elaine Vazquez

Saint Xavier University

Mission statement

Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School’s mission is to provide a quality

educational experience needed to empower students to engage in critical thinking and social

transformation, from the classroom to the Puerto Rican community, based on the philosophical

foundation of self-determination, a methodology of self-actualization and an ethics of self-

reliance. (

Reading and Language Arts Curriculum Instructional Materials and Techniques

Underlying Philosophy in Teaching Reading.

In our school we don’t have any pre-packaged materials or programs. We use very few--

if any-- textbooks. Our reading material is drawn from high-interest in-classroom mini-libraries

and sets of books that teachers order each year that they plan on focusing on. Each teacher has a

great deal of autonomy over their class curriculum and there is little horizontal and/or vertical

alignment of curriculum. We use Youth Connection Charter Schools Essential Skills Framework

and Benchmark Descriptors to guide instruction, as well as the Understanding by Design

framework to plan units and classes. The Reading and Language Arts Curriculum Materials and

Techniques are driven by the school’s mission statement and by its articulation in the school’s

RESPECT Framework. RESPECT stands for Responsibility, Ethics, Self, Puerto Rican,

Extended Education, Community, and Transformation. Each of these facets has a detailed

articulation within the Student Handbook of “What this Looks Like” (for example,

“Responsibility” looks like “Having a backpack to carry school materials,” or “Participation in

class.”) and “What this Sounds Like” (for example, for “Responsibility” this sounds like “I

complete my work in a timely manner, I understand that deadlines are important.”) Most letters
in the RESPECT Framework contain academic projects, like the Self component contains an

Autobiography/Biography/Memoir component, which is the responsibility of the English classes.

As of yet, there is no explicit, articulated, and shared Philosophy of Reading. (2010-2011 Student


Staff Development

Over the past year and a half we have focused on the following Professional Development areas:

Digital Literacy and the use of Web 2.0 in the classroom

Understanding the Theory and History of Reading

Schema Theory

Writing in our Classrooms

Pre-, During-, and After-Reading strategies

Literature Circles

Getting a readable text in every student’s hand


Building a culture of Vocabulary in the School

Vocabulary Teaching in the classroom

Use of the RESPECT framework as a way of building literacy in classes

Critical Literacy

PACHS 10 literacy strategies



We have three administrators: One director and two co-directors. One of the co-directors

is in charge of the Family Learning Center, and the other co-director oversees our Urban
Agriculture program and the construction and maintenance of our rooftop greenhouse. We also

have a registrar and several personnel that work on attendance and recordkeeping. Because we

are a charter, salary information is not publicly available. The director is overseen by a board of

directors. Parents, students, and teachers are welcome to attend board meetings. (PACHS

Personnel Policies Handbook 2010-2011, common knowledge)

District (Campus) Statistics

Student Statistics:

80% Latina/o

15% Black

5% White/Other

Cost per pupil:


Students must also pay a $200 school fee before graduation. (Taken from the Registrar, Juanita


Community Information

The school is located in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, the heart of Puerto

Rican Chicago. Specifically, the school is nestled on Division Street, between the two “Flags of

Steel” that demarcate the portion of Division known as “Paseo Boricua” or, “The Puerto Rican

Walk.” Unfortunately, the neighborhood is one of high poverty and all of our students receive

either free or reduced-price lunch. Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School is an

alternative/charter school. Our charter is Youth Connection Charter Schools (YCCS), but we

also receive major funding though ASN, Alternative Schools Network. (Information taken from, information given by Director, Matthew Rodriguez)

Staff Evaluations

Our staff is evaluated both formally and informally. We have a common rubric that was

designed with teachers with concrete language indicating what “unsatisfactory,” “satisfactory,”

and “proficient” levels of each component being evaluated actually look like. This rubric is used

by teachers to evaluate one another twice per year. The rubric is also used by the administrator

twice per year as both a (1) summative and finally (2) formative assessment. The principal also

has “drop in” carbon copy sheets he uses to provide teachers with an interim assessment of how

they are doing in the classroom. He will drop in, spend perhaps 5 minutes in the classroom,

complete the sheet and provide the teacher with a carbon-copy of the evaluation while another

goes into their file. It is used not as a punitive measure, but rather as an opportunity to get an

outside perspective on what is going on inside the classroom. (Taken from Dr. Pedro Albizu

Campos High School 2010-2011 Personnel Policies Handbook, p. 4)

At-Risk Students

Our entire student population is made up of “at-risk” students. We have many ways to

support with the needs of our special population. We have a very high counselor to student ratio

ensuring that every student has a mentor and every student has regular contact with their mentor

to provide them with guidance and support. We make personal calls to parents when students

are more than two hours late to school. Our school is a Puerto Rican-centric school, so students

are hearing primarily about the culturally-relevant history of their own people or the shared

struggles of their common ancestors often for the first time. Classroom instruction is largely

experiential, project-based, and geared towards the modalities of multiple intelligences. Our

Special Education team is active in full-force and when they are not in the classroom they are in

an office that is often filled with students seeking and receiving their help. We have a Literacy
Coach and Coordinator who oversees the creation of a Culture of Literacy within the school, as

well as individualized coaching for classroom teachers to ensure that literacy instruction is a part

of every classroom. We also have a Family Learning Center where teenage mothers can keep

their children as they take classes during the day. They get the opportunity to eat lunch with

their children and they know their little ones are safe and well-cared for throughout the day. We

have a whole-school time called “Unity” where students gather to talk about pressing community

issues or to share their own spoken word poetry. Overall we have created a healthy, supportive

environment for young people that live in a tough world. (Information gathered from 2010-2011

PACHS Student Handbook, Director (Matthew Rodriguez) Student Dean (Judy Diaz) and

common knowledge)

District Assessments

All students admitted to the school must take the Math and Reading sections of the Test

of Adult Basic Education. Additionally all juniors and seniors take the PSAE formally once per

year and take several other practice PSAE tests throughout the year. Within classrooms, teachers

are free to use whatever forms of assessment they feel appropriately demonstrate mastery of the

material being taught. (2010-2011 PACHS Student Handbook)

Data From Literacy Assessments

TABE data thus far for the 2010-2011 school year is attached (Appendix A). Students’ names

have been removed for privacy. As can be seen at the bottom of the spreadsheet the average

student reading level gain from the beginning of the year to mid-year was 1.25 grade levels. The

chart below summarizes the number of students who made the necessary gains at mid-year

testing. The largest section represents the number of students who-- at mid-year-- made the
gains necessary for the entire school year. The smallest slice represents the number of students

who were on track to make the necessary gains for the whole school year.

The graph below indicates the difference in the mid-year gains from last year to this year.

The image below is evidence of test scores being shared with student stakeholders.

Students who made a full-year gain in reading or math are represented in the upper quadrant

while students who made the appropriate gains for that point in the school year are shown below.
Students would frequently study the board in bunches with lots of “test talk” buzzing around the

school. (Image has been deliberately downsized to maintain student anonymity. (Taken from

staff-wide shared document of student TABE scores:


Parental Involvement

Unfortunately there has not been a stable, regularly-meeting parent group at the school

until very recently. That group met this month and decided to cook meals on Thursdays that

could be sold to students to help raise money to pay for students’ graduation fees. We do,

however, have parents employed at our school in non-certificated positions. Our lunch lady,
attendance specialist and several of our security staff are parents of our students. (Taken from

interview with Director, Matthew Rodriguez)

Discipline Policy

Our discipline policy is a long and complex one. Essentially there are three “levels” of

infractions a student can commit. Level one infractions “include a wide range of behaviors,

which disrupt the learning community but are not severe enough to require administrative

intervention.” Cell phone usage, hat wearing, and being disruptive in class are all examples of

level one infractions. At this level the student is reminded of the rules and their act is

documented in a shared Google document that catalogues all of the incidents of every student

throughout the year. There is a spectrum of consequences that can be administered based on the

severity and/or frequency of the infraction. Level two infractions are considered disruptions, an

expression of disregard to school learning community and will not be tolerated. Administrative

interventions may be required.” Refusal to turn in a cell phone, Tobacco use or possession, or

coming to school under the influence of any drug are all examples of level two infractions.

Level three infractions are “blatant violations of our school community and will not be tolerated.

Administrative interventions are required.” Physical fights, aggressive gang-banging, and doing

or selling drugs in school are level three offences.

When a student begins to build up a collection of offenses, their parent is called in for a

meeting and a “Performance Improvement Plan” or “PIP” is written out. The PIP has

measurable, attainable goals that the student must meet in order to be removed from the PIP. If

they are not able to move out of their PIP, they understand that they will be transferred to another

school. Most students, however, do make improvements and manage to stay in the school. In

addition we have a student Peer Jury that recommends decisions to administration when level
three infractions take place, although administration is not required to take the advice of the Peer

Jury. There is also a Due Process procedure if students wish to challenge Suspensions or

Disciplinary Transfers. (2010-2011 Student Handbook)

Conflict Resolution Policy

When there is a conflict within the school- regardless of the people involved- we enact a

Restorative Justice Framework. According to the 2010-2011 Student Handbook, “Restorative

justice is an invitation for dialogue and exploration. When a school policy or procedure is

broken restorative justice is a process to involve the school, staff, and students in re-establishing

relationships. The goal is to engage everyone involved to collectively identify and address

harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible. Restorative

justice encourages outcomes that promote responsibility, reparation, and healing for all. It is an

alternative framework for thinking about wrongdoing.” (2010-2011 Student Handbook)

Professional Development Literacy Needs Assessment Survey

The following survey was completed by the teaching staff in a professional development session

October 9th of 2010. The results are summarized in graph form below:

How familiar do you feel with literacy strategies that can be used in your content area?
Which of the literacy areas below are you most interested in working on?

Would you like to receive text-based literacy resources to help you incorporate literacy into

your class in the future?

If so, what?
I am YOUR special literacy coach. How can I best be a resource to you?

After the aforementioned questions, I asked questions about the frequency teachers would

like to receive the listed services. Choices listed were “daily,” “weekly,” “every curriculum

meeting,” “once per month,” or “once per module.” People wanted to receive resources at the

highest amount of frequency with all responses falling within the daily to once-per-month

category. Resources were the only thing anybody said they wanted daily with only one response.

Most people indicated they wanted mini-lessons at the next greatest frequency with the range

falling within the weekly to once-per-month category, with “once every curriculum meeting”
being the most popular option. Co-teaching was the option teachers wanted with the third

greatest frequency, and teachers wanted to receive one-on-one services perhaps once per month

or once per module. (


Evidence of Sharing Part I Information with Stakeholders

Mission statement is available on the school website for all parents, students, and staff to

see. RESPECT Framework as articulation for Language Arts Curriculum is available in Student

Handbook for all stakeholders to see, and is reviewed in Advisory Class an Unity Class

regularly. Staff development is available on the Staff portion of the school website.

Administration information is common knowledge for all stakeholders. District Statistics are

available through YCCS and have been shared with relevant stakeholders, and/or are available

upon request. Community information is common knowledge, and information is also available

on the Internet. Evaluation is provided in the Personnel Handbook and copies of Evaluation

Rubrics are provided to all stakeholders in both soft and hard copies. Information about at-risk

student procedures is available in the Student Handbook. Assessment information is included on

a shared Google document for all teachers and staff to access readily. The information is used in

Professional Development workshops and students are also informed of their TABE scores as

soon as the information is available. Students who have “tested out” of a particular aspect of the

TABE test are celebrated on a public bulletin board in the school’s main building. Information

about parent groups is common knowledge or available upon request, and always shared at staff

meetings. Discipline Policy and Conflict Resolution policies are available in Student Handbook.

Professional Development information is available on Staff website.