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CPS test scores see slight gains after years of larger growth

Since 2013, the percentage of students at least meeting national reading averages has risen by 16.2%, while there’s been an increase of 11.6% in students who meet national math levels.

Students work inside their classroom at Brentano Math and Science Academy. | Lou Foglia/Sun-Times
Sun-Times file photo
Lou Foglia/Sun-Times

Newly released test scores show slightly improved district-wide math and reading markers for Chicago Public Schools students, though the scores stagnated compared to big gains in previous years.

During the last school year, 61.8% of elementary school students met or exceeded the national average in reading, and 56.7% did so in math. Those numbers were up by 0.4% and 0.1%, respectively, from the previous year.

In a press release, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson touted the latest scores as record highs.

“As the district prioritizes investments in schools across the city, CPS students are once again reaching new academic heights and showcasing their vast potential,” Jackson said in the statement.

“Chicago students continue to exceed expectations with their academic progress,” Lightfoot said. “As we embark on a new school year, we know the significant role our teachers, principals and support staff play in driving academic growth and success amongst our students.”

Since 2013, the percentage of students at least meeting national reading levels has risen by 16.2%, while there’s been an increase of 11.6% in students who meet national math levels.

The scores at the center of Tuesday’s news release are from the Northwest Evaluation Association’s Measures of Academic Progress test, more widely recognized as NWEA MAP. The test is used as a key metric by CPS to determine school ratings and a student’s credentials for selective enrollment high schools.

Lightfoot’s newly appointed school board, which is set to hold its third meeting Wednesday, grilled the district on NWEA MAP and it’s school rating system at its June board meeting. The board initially voted to reject the district’s proposal on changes to its school rating system, saying it relied too heavily on test scores.

Critics have argued the school rating system unfairly punishes schools in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods on the South and West sides, and that the ratings have been used to justify shutting down schools.

The board eventually passed the proposed rating system but told Jackson to take a hard look at changes for next year.