4 CPS schools with majority low-income students top list of best in state

Haines Elementary in Chinatown, where 98% of students are low-income, received an “exemplary” designation on the the state’s report card released Wednesday.

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Haines Elementary School exterior

Haines Elementary School in Chinatown was the top-rated school on the state’s report card released Wednesday to have the highest percentage of low-income students.

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Four city schools have received the state’s highest rating for academic performance in spite of having some of the highest percentages of low-income students in the region, according to state report card data released Wednesday.

Haines Elementary School in Chinatown has the highest percentage of low-income students in the region at 98%. Still, the school achieved an “exemplary” designation — the state’s highest rating. The school also has a majority minority student body, where 80% of students are Asian and 17% are black.

Columbus Elementary School in Ukrainian Village also received an exemplary rating with more than 70% of its student body listed as low-income, defined by the state board of education as students in families receiving public aid, living in substitute care, or eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunches. A majority of its students — 65% — are white, followed by 24% who are listed as Hispanic or Latino, state data showed.

Both schools take in students based on district boundaries, not from selective enrollment or lottery systems, and also serve a student body with a high percentage of students with “limited English” — 28% at Haines and 34% at Columbus, according to Chicago Public Schools data.

Other top-performing, low-income schools in the city were DeVry Advantage Academy High School and Inter-American Elementary Magnet School. More than 72% of DeVry students were low-income and more than 58% of the student body was Hispanic or Latino. At Inter-American, 52% were low-income and 84% were Hispanic or Latino.

Students must test into DeVry High School, while Inter-American uses a lottery system.

Chicago Public Schools also lists those four schools as top-performing, based on its own rating system.

Regionally, 76% of schools that received the state’s exemplary designation were majority white schools, according to the state’s data.

On the opposite end, Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts) received a “lowest performing” designation — the state’s worst rating — though only 37% of students are low-income, making it the worst performing school in the region with the smallest percent of low-income students, state data showed. About 80 percent of ChiArts students are nonwhite.

Despite a low state rating, ChiArts is listed as a top-performing school by CPS’ own rating system.

Across the state, education officials touted “historic gains” in college and career readiness by Illinois students, especially among minority students. Students of color now make up 52 percent of all students in the state, as well as of students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses for which students can receive college credit. The number of students of color enrolled in AP classes was up 5% from only three years ago, officials said. Students also recorded the highest ever pass rate for those courses.

Officials said Illinois students compared strongly against other students nationally. In other areas, including graduation, state data from 2017 showed the rate for Illinois students was holding steady and showed the state ranking in the top half of all states for graduation rates.

The vast majority of schools in the state — 74% — received a designation of “commendable.” Only 4% of schools were listed as lowest-performing and 10% reached exemplary overall in the state. About 10 percent were listed as underperforming.

Schools designated lowest-performing and underperforming will enter a four-year improvement program that is supported by additional federal funding and state assistance, officials said.

For the first time as part of the report card, the state also shared data on funding levels for individual schools.

In the Chicago area, Bannockburn Elementary School in Lake County spent $32,000 per student — the highest amount of any exemplary-rated school. Nelson Prairie School in New Lenox, also deemed exemplary, spent the least with less than $9,000 for each student.

Of the lowest-performing schools, Diekman Elementary in south suburban Dolton spent the most per student at more than $19,000.

The school with the worst rating that also spent the least on students? That was also ChiArts with $16,600 spent per student.

To see how your school performed, search our database here.

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