Graduation rate continues to climb at CPS

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The rate of students who graduated from Chicago Public Schools in five years reached a new record of 78 percent for the 2017-2018 school year, according to figures provided by the district.

The graduation rate is a modest increase from last year’s 77.5 percent, but it’s an increase of about 21 percentage points since 2011.

African-American and Hispanic male students saw the biggest graduation improvement, rising from 62.8 and 75.8 percent at the end of the 2016-2017 school year to 64.7 and 77.3 percent by the end of the most recent year.

Schools with some of the highest graduation rates included Walter Payton College Prep (98.2 percent), Northside College Preparatory High School (98 percent) and Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy High School (96.8 percent).

CPS CEO Janice Jackson said a “cultural shift” at CPS has helped the graduation rates continue to rise.

Growth in post-secondary work, as well as investments in programs like International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement and STEM, have also helped CPS move “toward post-secondary readiness, early intervention and using data to help identify students who need extra support,” Jackson said.

Despite the growth, the district — the third largest in the nation — is still a ways away from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s graduation rate goal of 85 percent by 2019. For its three-year vision plan, CPS aims to have an 85 percent graduation rate by 2020, a goal Jackson said she believes is still attainable.

She said investments in programming and post-secondary work would need to be expanded to more students if the district is going to see “exponential gains.”

“I don’t think it’s ever OK to say that we’ve hit a ceiling and this is the best that our students can do,”Jackson said. “I also think it’s important for us as a school system to note that a lot of the practices … that got us to this point were extremely helpful. But as we look and dig into the data, there’s definitely places where we have to push a little bit harder, and we have to make sure that we’re reaching all of our students.”

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