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CPS graduation rate hits record high, dropout rate at record low for 2019-20

“We saw improvements across the city,” CPS CEO Janice Jackson said Friday.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson speaks at a news conference at City Hall on August 5, 2020.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson said graduation rates improved across the city.
Sun-Times file

Chicago Public Schools’ five-year graduation rate hit a record high of 82.5% for the 2019-20 school year, officials announced Friday.

“We saw improvements across the city,” CPS CEO Janice Jackson said at a news conference with Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

“Students of color, led by Latinx students, are driving this year’s progress, and African American students, whose growth has also been on the rise, have increased their graduation rates by 4 percentage points since 2017,” Jackson said.

Lightfoot called the improvement a “huge leap forward.”

“This is incredibly great news, especially when you consider the challenges all of us faced over this past year, particularly our students,” the mayor said.

The districtwide, one-year dropout rate reached a record low of 5.6%.

“This is being driven by African American males, as well as our diverse learners,” Jackson said.

The method of calculating graduation rates changed this year, she said, to “better represent the work that is happening in our schools.” Those changes included counting students who technically have earned their diploma but whose special education plans included continued enrollment after 12th grade, and cleaning up duplicates from school transfers and students who un-enrolled then later re-enrolled. Under the old calculation, the five-year graduation rate would have been 80.8%, up about two percentage points from 2019.

With the school year set to begin Tuesday, Jackson tried to reassure parents and students that learning at home “feels as normal as any other school experience.”

“Assignments will be graded, attendance will be taken and students should expect to be held to the same high standards that they receive during in-person instruction,” Jackson said.

Jackson urged families to go to cps.edu/school-reopening-2020 to make sure students are ready for the first day of school.

Asked about reports some students haven’t yet received laptops and other devices they need to begin the school year, Jackson said the district has so far distributed about 128,000 devices.

“We know that there is going to be a continued need. We will have to replace some devices that may have been broken over the summer. … We have made good on our commitment to make sure devices and internet, that those two things aren’t a barrier,” Jackson said.

She urged parents who are having technology or internet issues to call the district hotline at 773-553-5437.