CPS High School Students Achieve Highest Average ACT Score on Record 


CPS Students Demonstrate Larger Gains in Both Reading and Math than Statewide Peers

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Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett today announced that high school students recorded an ACT composite score of 18.0 in 2014, the highest ACT score on record, while outpacing the state in growth for both reading and math. These scores continue the District’s five-year trend of ACT improvements, showing that students in CPS continue to make progress in the core subjects while preparing to graduate college and career ready.

“These results show progress as our teachers, principals and families across the City work to ensure that our students receive the instruction necessary for graduation and success thereafter.” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “Every child in every neighborhood deserves a quality education, and improvements in high school scores demonstrate that we are preparing students with the foundation for the demands of a college and career experience.”

This represents an increase of 0.1 scale score points from 2013, and an increase of 0.7 scale score points from 2010 and suggests that students are being exposed to the curriculum and the instruction that prepare for students for college. This increase demonstrates the continuous progress made by our students, as each incremental point represents an increase in the college-readiness of students.

“CPS students are making real progress, thanks to the hard work being done in classrooms across the city,” CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said. “These ACT score represent an important milestone, and demonstrate that our students continue to make meaningful progress in our goal for every student to graduate prepared for college, career and life.”

The 2014 ACT data, representative of the 2014 graduating class, also indicated that 11.0 percent of CPS students met college readiness bench marks in all four tests (Reading, Math, Science, and English), which is up 1.0 percentage point from last year. Students also improved by a percentage point in biology from last year.

The ACT exam is administered to juniors each spring as part of the PSAE (Prairie State Achievement Examination). Each test contains English, Reading, Mathematics and Science sections. Students receive a score for each of these sections, in addition to an overall “composite” score, which is a mathematical mean of all the subject scores. In 2013, juniors scored an average of 17.6 on the ACT, which lead to a .4 average increase for those who repeated the test as seniors in 2014.

In the past five years, CPS has made an intentional effort to align both curriculum and instruction at the high school level more closely with the college readiness standards (CRS). The CRS are largely assessed by EPAS (Educational Planning and Assessment System), a linked series of three tests – EXPLORE, PLAN & ACT – designed to measure educational progress and college readiness as a student moves through high school.

The college readiness standards serve as a direct link between what students have learned and what they are ready to learn next. Student gains made on the EPAS in both reading and math also enhance a school’s overall performance in the District’s School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP), which determines school ratings beginning this school year.

Chicago Public Schools serves 400,000 students in 665 schools.