National Exam Shows CPS English Learners Made Significant Gains to Reduce Achievement Gap 

NWEA School-By-School Data Shows CPS English Learners Have Narrowed the Achievement Gap by 48 Percent in Math and 28 Percent in Reading
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

CPS Office of Communications

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CHICAGO – Mayor Emanuel and CPS today announced that more CPS elementary school English Learners than ever before are meeting or exceeding standards for math and reading. According to school-by-school results from the 2016-17 Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress (NWEA MAP), English learners significantly narrowed the achievement gap compared to native speakers at a time when both English Learners and native speakers demonstrated significant improvements.

“It is clear when you look at the numbers that when Chicago’s students are given the chance, they will break down barriers and give new meaning to success,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Our English learners are no exception, and are just one of the many reasons that CPS students have met or beat the national average in both reading and math for five years in a row.”

In the past year, English learners have narrowed the achievement gap in math by 48 percent (12.4 percentage points in SY 15-16 to 6.4 percentage points in SY 16-17) and reading by 28 percent (22.6 percentage points to 16.2 percentage points), according to NWEA MAP. 
“We’re seeing unprecedented progress in all grades and demographics, and the data released today is further confirmation that the investments and resources CPS and the City of Chicago have made are helping our schools reach new heights,” said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool.

For the fifth year in a row, all CPS students have outscored national peers in reading and math. While both English learners and native speakers made gains in reading and math, the achievement gap has declined considerably for English learners due to a 15 percent improvement in math (43.5 percent in SY 15-16 to 50.1 percent in SY 16-17) attainment and a 20 percent improvement in reading attainment (39 percent to 46.8 percent) from the previous school year. District wide, 61.4 percent of all CPS students met or exceeded the national testing average in reading and 55.9 percent of students met or exceeded the average in math.
“By identifying resources and instructional methods to support all of our students, we are working to eliminate the achievement gap so that every student in Chicago is able to reach their full potential,” said CPS Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “While there is undoubtedly still work to be done, this encouraging data is a testament to the families and educators throughout Chicago who are working to provide our students with the high quality education they deserve.”

The NWEA results are only the latest example in several independently confirmed data points that show the tremendous improvements and remarkable achievements CPS students are making. Most recently, a study from the University of Illinois – Chicago’s Center for Urban Education Leadership showed that Chicago students outperform their Illinois peers in every major racial and socioeconomic group. 
This study came on the heels of research from Stanford University’s Sean Reardon, who found that Chicago students improve academically faster than any large urban school system in the country.   
Since 2011, CPS students continue to make historic gains across a wide range of significant milestones such as “the Nation’s Report Card.” According to NAEP, CPS students were among the national leaders in gains for both eighth grade math and fourth grade reading on the national benchmark assessment in 2015.  Eighth grade CPS students achieved the greatest growth in the nation among their urban peers in math, registering growth of 6 scale-score points since 2013. Fourth graders achieved the third highest growth in the nation among their urban peers in reading with growth of 7 scale-score points since 2013. Chicago was one of only three urban districts – joining Cleveland and Miami-Dade – to have experienced academic growth in math and reading in both the fourth and eighth grades in 2015.
Students have achieved historic gains in freshmen-on-track to graduate rates, as well as graduating high school and enrolling in college in record numbers.  The CPS graduation rate has climbed by more than 16 points since 2011 to 73.5 percent in 2016, and is growing more than three times faster than the national rate in the same time frame. In the same time frame, ACT scores have increased by 1.2 points across all district schools. Graduation rates have been driven in part by the district’s focus on its freshman on track to graduate rate, which was 87.4% in 2016 and up from 69% in 2011. 
Mayor Emanuel and CPS continue to support student advancements by making significant investments to improve education. The transition in 2012 to the full school day and full school year ensured that students in all schools receive high levels of math and literacy instruction. CPS is also in the process of developing curriculum and sequencing for schools to adopt, expanding academic enrichment opportunities, like chess and debate, providing professional development opportunities and leveraging university partnerships to continue to implement evidence-based policies to put our students on the path to success.   
The full 2017 NWEA data set can be found at

Chicago Public Schools serves 381,000 students in 652 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.


Page Last Modified on Tuesday, August 22, 2017