The Noble Difference: Popularity of the Noble Network in Chicago

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As more high schools are opening and closing in the city of Chicago, more parents and future 9th grade students are taking advantage of public school choice and beginning to seek high schools that have established a reputation for producing results. High schools that have appealed to parents and students have ranged from magnet schools, montessori schools, traditional schools, and more recently charter schools. In the city of Chicago, approximately 19,000 students applied for admission to charter schools and over 23,000 are predicted to apply next year (1).The overwhelming amount of students applying to charter schools in the Chicagoland area causes a debate among the charter school community as to which of them has a better reputation as the “best” school to attend. When looking at all networks of charter high schools, one network has obtained both the most frequent media attention by the city of Chicago and produced effective results in standardized tests: the Noble Network of Charter Schools. With over 6,304 applications received by the Noble Network of Charter schools from 2010-2011, the amount of applicants for the 10 campuses leads one to wonder: how and why did the Noble Network of Charter Schools, compared to its competitors, become so popular in Chicago from 1999, when the network first opened, to the present?

There have been many reasons given by parents who have applied their children to a Noble charter high school as opposed to any other charter high school in Chicago. Noble’s college matriculation rates, their curricular focus, support, and their achievements with testing stand out among these as the critical deciding factors. Many other competitor networks of charter schools have similar practices to that of the Noble Network of Charter Schools; however, the Noble Network of Charter Schools produce some of the largest numbers of applicants growing larger and larger each year in the city of Chicago. Although Noble seems to operate just as every other network of charter schools does, Noble has certain characteristics that sets their schools apart from its competitors.

I personally decided to research this network of charter schools because I attended and graduated from one of the Noble Network of Charter Schools campuses. Also, I wanted to research the “The Noble Difference Campaign” in which the network prides themselves on and what I experienced in high school. Moreover in my own personal experience, the range of charter high schools is extremely competitive, and I wanted to research the reason behind the growing number of applications to Noble. The Noble Network of Charter Schools emerged in 1999 with the opening of its first campus, Noble Street Charter School an open enrollment charter high school. After its first graduating class in 2003, Noble expanded throughout the city of Chicago and has 13 campuses in a variety of neighborhoods including a middle school (2). The Noble Network of Charter Schools, like every other charter school in the city of Chicago, conducts a lottery every spring for applicants waiting to attend their schools. According to the Illinois Charter School Biennial Report, about 6,304 applications were received for the 10 campuses already established for the 2010-2011 school with only 1428 of those applicants admitted.

In considering different schools for their children, most parents try to choose a school that will keep their children on track for college and matriculate to college right after high school. College matriculation rates determines the number of students in which apply to college and attend right after graduating high school. When students walk into a Noble charter high schools, they are asked to sign a contract their first day of school freshman year. This contract is an agreement that the student makes with the staff and teachers of the school that their main goal in success and college in the long run. According to Angelica Alfaro, the alumni coordinator for Noble’s original campus, the college matriculation rate for the first graduating class was 81% (3). Today that rate has gradually increased with each campus having it’s own matriculation rate either at or above the original campus’s rate.

"College Matriculation Rates 2011". Chicago Public Schools Office of College and Career Preparation.

Moreover, the rates at which minorities are matriculating into college through a Noble Network Charter school is proving to be one of the highest especially compared to that of Chicago Public Schools in general. According to the Chicago Public Schools Office of College and Career Preparation in 2011, over 90% of Latino and African American students who graduate from a Noble high school matriculate into college (4). In attending a Noble charter high school, minority students are more likely to graduate from high school and matriculate into college than in traditional Chicago Public Schools system school. In knowing that students would be more likely to attend college after high school, students would be enrolled more likely in a Noble Network charter school as opposed to a school a part of the Chicago Public schools system.

At the heart of each school, curricular focus, which includes school environment,  is one of the most important components to a student’s success in that schools because the type of education a student receives will ultimately determine his or her success beyond high school and on to college. Curricular focus is the type of environment that a student is immersed in, the people in the school community, as well as the loved ones at home who are aiding in the student’s success throughout their four years in high school. In considering curricular focus, the University of Chicago conducted a study called The 5 Essentials study which gives a picture of the type of school environment a school has without considering statistics and test scores (5). This study was administered to parents, teachers, and staff within each school and with each question centered on a specific category of the study. The study focused on five aspects of a school’s environment: ambitious instruction, effective leaders, collaborative teachers, involved families, and a supportive environment.

"5 Essentials Study", University of Chicago.

Compared to a few major Chicago charter schools and even the Chicago Public Schools system, Noble has campuses that prevail above every single one. Noble Street Charter Schools, Noble-UIC Campus, and Noble-Englewood Campus all have some of the highest scores in each of the 5 essentials category and beat out two of its competitor charter schools, Chicago International Charter Schools and an UNO Charter School campus (6) . Furthermore when looking into the 5 Essentials study at the University of Chicago website, every single noble campus has scored either an overall organized or well-organized review as a school which means in every category Noble has strong and very strong responses from parents, students, and staff (7).  Overall the Noble Network of Charter Schools has demonstrated one of the strongest strong curricular focuses, as compared to two of its top competitors,  centered on a strong environment present by the everyone in the network including students, staff, and parents.

When students are in high school, many of these students need the support of their loved ones as well as strong and supportive staff and teachers. Being able to have strong role models in the school as well as organization allows for students to transition smoothly into the groove of both high school and preparing themselves for college. As part of their vision for college preparation, the Noble Network of Charter Schools divides each grade level into ‘advisories’ and has one designated advisor for a group of anywhere between 10-30 students for their next four years at Noble. The advisor acts as a “life mentor” and aids their group of students in academics and makes sure that each student is both mentally and academically prepared for college (8). Having a mentor for their entire high school career and beyond helps these students connect with their peers as well as associate with their teachers on a personal level. Having that personal touch allows students to adjust to the rigors of both high school and college much more smoothly and have someone guide them through the process. Furthermore, teachers and students each treat each other with respect, which in most schools is an issue that becomes the center of disciplinary measures needing to be taken. According to Steven R. Covey the author of Leader in Me: How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child At a Time, “Students treat each other with respect [at Noble]. They also treat adults with respect, in large part because they are treated with respect”(9). Because the Noble Network of Charter Schools maintains this professional environment with the help of rules, and the staff and teachers treat students with respect and understanding, students are able to sit comfortable and create a healthy learning environment for themselves and others without any issues. The support given to students by teachers and staff that work for the Noble Network of Charter Schools relate to students at a personal level as well as a professional level which gives students the support they need to succeed the next four years at Noble and beyond.

Every spring, high school seniors all over Chicago dread the same fateful test that in their eyes determines the next few years of their life: the ACT. The ACT and prepping for the test has been one of the most important ideas centered on in high schools all over Chicago because of the impact it has on college admissions. Although according to a research brief by the Rand Corporation stated that the performance of charter high schools is “approximately on par with that of traditional publics schools in Chicago” (10), Noble has proven to rise above other non-selective high schools in the city. In order to make sure that Noble is being compared to only it’s competitors and not other traditional schools and selective enrollment schools, the charter high schools are compared to every non-selective enrollment high school in the city according to their average ACT score.

"Top Ten Open Enrollment, Non-selective, Traditional High Schools in Chicago", Illinois Policy Institute.

 In the top ten highest performing non-selective high schools in Chicago of 2012 (according to the average ACT score), the Noble Network had 9 of their campus placed on the list including taking the first 8 spots (11).  Having a majority of the Noble Network of Charter Schools campuses placed in the top ten of the highest performing non-selective high schools gives for a great reputation of sending students to top tier colleges and excellent ACT test preparation. This success posed by the Noble Network of Charter Schools demonstrates to parents that their children are able to take the ACT with the proper amount of preparation and gives students a confidence that they will be able to enter into the college or university of their dreams with the help of the Noble Network. Because of Noble’s impressive success with the ACT and its high ranks among their charter school peers, parents are more prone to choose Noble as a better route for their child’s future.

In the city of Chicago, there are over 600 public schools all together each with their own ways to manage their schools and perks. The Noble Network of Charter Schools has had some of the largest numbers of applications received as well as promising statistics of students who have attended the schools since its launch in 1999. The Noble Network of Charter Schools’ high college matriculation rates, strong curricular focus centered in school environment, support for students and parents, and their success with testing demonstrates to parents and future students the range of success that the network has had and why it is such a top competitor. With it’s growing number of applicants each year, it is clear why the Noble Network of Charter Schools appeal to parents and students looking for a school to help their children succeed throughout their high school career and continuing on into college.

(1). “Illinois Charter School Biennial Report.” Illinois State Board of Education, 12 Jan. 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.

(2). “Mission & History.” Noble Network of Charter Schools, 2012. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.

(3). Interview with Angelica Alfaro. Voice.

(4). Condition of Education, 2012; CPS Office of College and Career Preparation; National Clearinghouse, and internal tracking.

(5). Lowry, Bryan. “The Ins and Outs of Chicago’s Charter Network Expansion: What’s Working, What’s Not — and Why.” Northwestern University, 31 Jan. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2013.

(6). “The University of Chicago Urban Education Institute.” The University of Chicago, 31 Jan. 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2013.

(7). Covey, Stephen R. The Leader In Me: How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child At A Time. New York: Free, 2008. 139-41. Print.

(8). Ibid.

(9). “Achievement and Attainment in Chicago Charter Schools.” The Rand Corporation, 23 Jan. 2008. Web. 17 Apr. 2013

(10). Dwyer, Josh. “Top Ten Charters Outperform Top Ten Open Enrollment, Non-selective, Traditional High Schools in Chicago.” Illinois Policy Institute, 8 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2013.

Ed 300 Research Proposal on charter schools

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Question: How has the implementation of the Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago affected graduation rates/test scores compared to traditional high schools in the Chicagoland area from 1990 to present day?


For many years, parents have sought to send their children to top high schools that will prepare them for college without the private school cost. Moreover, many of the parents in Chicago try to send their kids to magnet schools, charter schools, and montessori high schools to avoid having their children sent to their neighborhood high schools which have a reputation for producing lower test scores and graduation rates. One network of charter schools has quickly been expanding in Chicago, and has caught the attention of high schoolers all over Chicago: the Noble Network of Charter Schools. As we analyzed Geoffrey Canada’s work in Harlem with the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City, the effectiveness of charter schools and how they compared to other district schools was not gone into depth with the novel Whatever It Takes by Paul Tough which sparked my interest. Moreover, I hope to analyze the test scores from this network of charter high schools and analyze the impact that the Noble Network of Charter Schools has over the graduations and test scores in Chicago with quantitative data.

Research Strategy:

I started my research with and searched for articles associating with charter schools in Chicago and school choice movements. I started to look through search engines using the library; however, either only a couple of sources or no sources at all would appear no matter how general or specific I made my search so I began to use Google Scholar for a more broad search. For specific statistics, I visited the Noble Network of Charter Schools website and found some basic graduation statistics and took more graduations statistics for Chicago overall from the Chicago Sun times. I plan to contact a couple of the Noble Network of Charter Schools advocates including the superintendent Michael Milkie.


“Achievements & Results.” N.p., Dec. 2012. Web. 05 Apr. 2013. <>.

Ark, Tom V. “Smart Cities: Chicago’s Collaborative and Chaotic Reform Record.” Ed Weekly, 12 Dec. 2011. Web. 5 Apr. 2013. <,+IL>.

Cullen, Julie B., Brian A. Jacob, and Steven D. Levitt. “The Impact of School Choice on Student Outcomes: An Analysis of the Chicago Public Schools.” Journal of Public Economics, 26 Aug. 2004. Web. 05 Apr. 2013. <>.

Greene, Jay P., and Marcus A. Winters. “Public High School Graduation and College-Readiness Rates: 1991–2002.” Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 8 Feb. 2005. Web. 5 Apr. 2013.

Kelleher, James B. “High School Graduation Rate Hits 78.2 Percent, Highest since 1974.” Reuters. Reuters, 22 Jan. 2013. Web. 5 Apr. 2013.

Kevin, Booker, Brian Gill, Ron Zimmer, and Tim R. Sass. “Achievement and Attainment in Chicago Charter Schools: A Summary. Research Brief.” RAND Corporation, 13 Feb. 2008. Web. 05 Apr. 2013. <>.

Video Analysis: Waiting for “Superman”

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Waiting for “Superman” is a documentary which investigates the different ways in which education is failing students and the development of the American public education system throughout the years. Moreover, the documentary goes in depth on the role of charter schools and different educational reforms, and how these factors are producing results that may change the future of education. Through the eyes of five children(Bianca, Emily, Anthony, Daisy, and Francisco) who go through regular public education and everyday pressures, Guggenheim presents the different and difficult options that have hope to change the American education system and the repercussions of it.

In a review by the Washington Post, Waiting for “Superman” does not tell of any downfalls to charter schools and test scores of charter schools as compared to public schools. According to the review, evidence from a recent national study done by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University states that “only 17% of charter schools have better test scores than traditional public schools, 46% had gains that were no different than their district counterparts, and 37% were significantly worse” [1]. Furthermore, the review claims that the documentary does not focus at all on the effects of poverty for families in the education system. The film does not take into account the different backgrounds that each student is coming from and the special precautions needed to improve their way of learning effectively in any kind of school.

Waiting for "Superman" 00:18:26

The film initially starts with the repercussions of the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) act and goes in depth with the percentage of children proficient in reading and mathematics in each state, and how those test scores consequently take a toll on how children progress through the years once the test is done [2]. Although the film does bring into perspective the progress being achieved so far by district schools, the film fails to put forth evidence of how proficient students in charter schools are in the same subjects. There are achievements with entering college and graduation rates; however, there is never data demonstrating how well students are doing according to the NCLB act. The film continues to push on with the idea of standardized testing and does not take a definite opposition towards testing except for criticizing how there are different standards set in each state for proficiency.

Although the film fails to bring into perspective poverty, the filmmaker includes the background stories of the parents of the five children being filmed and their experience with education [3]. Moreover, the different places which are producing school called “dropout factories” in which determines the future of children in them, such as the parents of the children in the film. According to education reformer Bill Strickland, many of the children who go through these “dropout factories” are more likely to drop out and head to a prison than graduate form high school. The filmmaker uses his Bill’s own personal experience with a “dropout factory” to demonstrate the severe consequences of attending certain public schools now and the function they continuously serve since before the 1970s [4].

Waiting for "Superman" 00:23:42

The filmmaker uses personal stories such as Bills’ and also the five children who have hopes of being accepted into a charter school which as seen as their only option to improve the conditions they are in now because of the American public education system. Many of these stories “tug at the heart strings” for viewers and really demonstrate the pressure of being able to have a child attend a school that will change their future as opposed to having the child’s future predetermined by a district school. A lot of the pressure finally settles in for both the viewer and the children towards the end of the film with the lotteries.

Waiting for "Superman" 01:35;16

In the final scene of the film, the effect of incorporating the results of each lottery and the ultimate fate of each child really puts into perspective the harsh reality of charter schools. With each lottery, viewers are placed in the same shoes as those children and the same disappointment that fills both parents and students [5]. The disappointment of the inability to give the proper education that can change their child’s life for the better. Each lottery and counting down the slots just places that pressure and that hope, and it shows the difficult decisions needed to give everything for the students of tomorrow.

Throughout the film, it is obvious that the the way to “fix” what is going on in the American public education system is to reform to a setting smaller and more directly focused on student achievement: a charter school. The film does fail to tell of the achievements presented by charter schools on the same tests that prove public schools to be failing. However, the film does demonstrated very accurately how public schools are holding students back, and are destroying instead of creating futures for students.

[1].  Ayers, Rick. “What ‘Superman’ Got Wrong, Point by Point.” What “Superman” Got Wrong, Point by Point. The Washington Post, 27 Sept. 2010. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <>.

[2]. Waiting for “Superman”, (00:18:26)

[3]. Waiting for “Superman”, (00:19:41)

[4]. Waiting for “Superman”, (00:23:42)

[5]. Waiting for “Superman”, (01:35:16)

The American Teacher: Finding Reliable Reviews and Essays

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Question: How do you find reviews and essays about video documentaries? Describe your search strategy and cite the 5 most thoughtful reviews or background essays on a designated video documentary. Your search results may include scholarly and/or popular press, but do your best not to include those featured on the film’s companion site. (Hint: the goal of this question is to help your classmates identify thoughtful sources that do not necessarily agree with the policy stance taken by the film.) Add a brief explanation for why you recommended each of the five sources you selected.

When looking for reliable material, everyone’s initial response to figure out something they don’t know is to Google the material. So, that’s what I did. Using Google Scholar, I entered all the information needed to link The American Teacher and any reviews that would need to go with it.

When visiting the first visiting the website, it appears as if you’re googling a normally on the primary website. Click on the small arrow next to the search button, and an advanced option to search articles appears.

Originally, it took me a while to find many reviews pertaining specifically to the actual documentary because just typing in “American Teacher” into the search bar brings up any article using both words. Specific words like American Teacher, documentary, 2011, reviews, education, and the teacher salary project narrows down the search to find articles more specific to the movie. Being as specific as possible with the search is crucial to finding a specific review for the American Teacher documentary.

Many of the articles will vary from the topics they talk about; therefore, skim each preview of the article you wish before actually including the article because although the search made the scope a lot smaller, many of the results may very well still be talking about a different topic than reviewing the film.

When I read the previews, I would make sure that the title of the movie was somewhere present along with an overview of the film to make sure the film was being reviewed.


1. Yamada, Teri. “RESTRUCTURING Public Hi Ed.” RESTRUCTURING Public Hi Ed., 2 Oct. 2011. Web. 21 Feb. 2013.<>

In this blog post, Yamada takes an overview of American Teacher, and uses it as a positive aspect to support his claim over the growing amount of public relations campaigning.

2. Harris, K. “Amazon Official Comment.” K. Harris “Film Aficionado”‘s Review of American Teacher. Amazon, 9 Feb. 2012. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. <>

The reviewer goes in depth and analyzes both the pitfalls and successes of the film and bases his review on both perspectives. Moreover, the reviewer goes in depth about what improvements can be made to the documentary.

3. Willmore, Alison. “American Teacher.” AV Club Live. The Onion, 9 Sept. 2011. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. <,62512/>.

In this review, the author refers back to key scenes in the movie and describes in depth how American teacher is a positive impact and acknowledges the counter arguements within the film and also about the film.

4.Campbell, Christopher. “American Teacher” DISQUS, 14 Feb. 2012. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. <>.

The review is very down to earth and makes the reader associate better with the reviewer and how his review may be misconstrued. Also, the review provides some outside knowledge and takes a definite position on the problem proposed by the documentary.

5. Walker-Bickett, Jeri. “JeriWB: What Do I Know?” JeriWB What Do I Know. WordPress, 16 May 2012. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. <>.

The review really puts into perspective all of the statistics presented by the movie and gives a great overall view of the movie as well as present the hopefulness of creating change for teachers.

The Dangers of Plagiarism

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Objective: In order to avoid plagiarism, one must first learn how to plagiarize. Each of the five paragraphs: the first three show different ways of plagiarizing, while the last two demonstrate how to paraphrase properly.

Example 1: Plagiarize the original text by copying portions of it word-for-word.

Ex. 1: Diane Ravitch says that Sean Corcoran, an economist at New York University, studied the teacher evaluation systems in New York City and Houston. She says he found that the average “margin of error” of a New York City teacher was plus or minus 28 points.

Example 2: Plagiarize the original text by paraphrasing its structure too closely, without copying it word-for-word.

Ex 2: Ravitch uses results from an economist named Sean Corcoran from New York University, who studied teacher evaluation systems and found that the average “margin of error” of a New York City teacher was plus or minus 28 points, to prove that the scores were unreliable for others to judge the actual performance of the teacher.

Example 3: Plagiarize the original text by paraphrasing its structure too closely, and include a citation. Even though you cited it, paraphrasing too closely is still plagiarism.

Ex 3: Ravitch uses results from an economist named Sean Corcoran from New York University, who studied teacher evaluation systems and found that the average “margin of error” of a New York City teacher was plus or minus 28 points, to prove that the scores were unreliable for others to judge the actual performance of the teacher.

Works Cited:

Ravitch, Diane. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education, Revised and Expanded Edition. New York: Basic Books, 2010.

Example 4: Properly paraphrase from the original text by restating the author’s ideas in different words and phrases, and include a citation to the original source.

Ex 4: Through her own interpretation of Sean Cocoran’s analysis of teacher evaluations, Ravitch affirms that the “margin of error” when evaluating teachers in New York City is too high to accurately evaluate the teachers, and proves to be too inconsistent when comparing the scores over the years [1].

[1]:Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education, Revised and Expanded Edition (New York: Basic Books, 2010), 270-271.

Works Cited:

Ravitch, Diane. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education, Revised and Expanded Edition. New York: Basic Books, 2010.

Example 5: Properly paraphrase from the original text by restating the author’s ideas in different words and phrases, add a direct quote, and include a citation to the original source.

In her novel, Diane Ravitch confirms that the system used to asses teachers is very unreliable and has too much of a gap to accurately evaluate them. Ravitch uses economist Sean Cocoran’s assertion that “the average ‘margin of error’ of a New York City teacher was plus or minus 28 points” in order to prove that the system used in very inaccurate and unreliable [2].

[2]:Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education, Revised and Expanded Edition (New York: Basic Books, 2010), 270-271.

Works Cited:

Ravitch, Diane. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education, Revised and Expanded Edition. New York: Basic Books, 2010.

My Learning Goals

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Throughout this class, I hope to grasp an understanding of both education and it’s history in order to interpret the different types of reform now. I would really like to grasp the roots of education and be able to express my own opinions and understand the opinions of others as well about education reform. Being able to understand the past of education reform also is something I want to grasp in order to possibly understand the new reform throughout education at the moment and possible reform that can be created to prevent past wrongs or continue reform that has been continuously working.