Mayor Emanuel and CPS Announce Record High Graduation Rate of 73.5 Percent 

Gains Come from Every Network and All Types of CPS Schools, With Neighborhood Schools Growing 4.6 Points
Monday, September 5, 2016                                                      

For more information, contact:
CPS Office of Communications
Phone: 773-553-1620

CHICAGO — Because of the hard work of students, their families, teachers and principals, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools announced today that Chicago’s students have achieved a record high graduation rate, with 73.5 percent of the class – or 20,438 students – earning a diploma. The graduation rate has steadily risen over the past five years, growing more than 16 percentage points since 2011, when just over half of CPS students earned a high school diploma.
The gains came from every geographic region of the city and all types of CPS schools, with neighborhood high schools improving by 4.6 points, from 68.5 percent to 73.1 percent, and charter schools improving by 0.8 points, from 77.4 percent to 78.2 percent. Every CPS geographic network saw improvements in their graduation rates.
The higher graduation rate is leading to CPS students’ increased enrollment in college, with CPS graduates nearly reaching the national college enrollment rate for the first time.
“Not only are more Chicago students graduating than ever before, they’re also moving on to college at a higher rate than ever before – a direct result of the hard work by our students parents, teachers and school leaders,” Mayor Emanuel said. “We have made significant investments in preparing students for a strong future – through expanding career and technical education, STEM and launching the largest IB network in the nation – and will continue to make investments to guarantee the quality education that each of our children deserves.”
This landmark achievement in the graduation rate tops off the list Chicago students’ recent progress on a number of key indicators, including:
  • Math and Reading improvements. For the first time, nearly 60 percent of CPS students are reading at or above the national average and more than half are beating the national average in math, reaching all-time highs for the District in the 2015-16 school year.

  • School Attendance. School attendance is on a steady rise, hitting 93.4 percent attendance for the 2015-16 school year, up from 91.7 percent in 2010-11. Two-thirds of District schools showed improved attendance over the previous year.

  • College enrollment. For the first time, 42 percent of CPS graduates enrolled in a 4-year college or university in the 2014-15 – quickly approaching the national average of a 44 percent college enrollment rate. 

  • Career and college credentials. In the 2014-15 school year, 36 percent of CPS students earned one or more of the following college or career credentials: early college credit, a 3+ on an AP exam, a 4+ on an IB exam, an approved career certification or a JROTC program completion certification. This represents a 5 point increase from the year before.
“The remarkable thing about Chicago students is that no matter what is going on around them, and no matter what financial challenges the District may face, they continue to do better and better – and that is a testament not only to the strength of their character, but the commitment of their principals, teachers and families,” CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said.
Independent experts continue to praise the District’s graduation rate gains, and have consistently pointed to the fact that they calculate an even higher rate than the District’s own conservative calculation. Both the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research and Illinois State Board of Education have determined that the District’s graduation rate is higher than the District’s self-reported official rate.
“Chicago high school graduation gains should be applauded – the progress our city's young people are making is significant and will have an impact not just on individual futures but on the economic health and safety of our city,” said Timothy Knowles, chairman of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute. “The Mayor and the city's educators deserve credit for investing resources, effort and expertise in high school completion, there is steady improvement and it will pay short and long term dividends.”
The District’s graduation rate also tracks very closely with the highly predictive freshman-on-track rate, which was introduced in 2007 and is a nationally recognized practice for guiding individual schools to improve their graduation rates. For this group of students, their freshman-on-track rate was 74.5 percent. The improved graduation rate is rising in tandem with a climbing college enrollment rate, with 42 percent of CPS students enrolling in college – nearly matching the national rate of 44 percent.
“In the past several years, CPS has focused a spotlight on high school freshmen, because we know that if they’re on track to graduate when they start high school, they’re more likely to graduate – and we’re seeing it pay off more every year for our students,” said CPS Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “As a former principal, I know how much work it takes to make sure every student can succeed. When schools open their doors this year, I hope that our principals and teachers take a moment to celebrate this remarkable accomplishment.”
With more students than ever before graduating from CPS, the District is also working to ensure that students have access to the tools and resources needed to promote college readiness. This includes strategic investments in college-level coursework through expansion of STEM, IB, AP and dual-credit/dual-enrollment opportunities in schools throughout the city. Additionally, the Mayor and CPS have set an ambitious new goal of ensuring that at least half of all CPS students earn college credit by 2019.
To help new and recent graduates in preparing the next phase of their education, CPS launched two new programs earlier this year. The first began this summer, directly engaging 6,600 recent graduates with text messages to remind them of key milestones related to enrollment, financial aid, and counseling, throughout the course of this summer to prevent the “summer melt” phenomenon. Beginning this year, CPS will pilot a senior seminar curriculum in 13 high schools helping more than 2,000 seniors as they prepare to enter college. This seminar was designed by a CPS citywide high school working group and Thrive Chicago.
By setting new expectations for students to access the District’s wide menu of college and career credentials while they are still in high school, CPS will provide more of its students with exposure to the rigorous coursework that they will encounter in college, credits that apply toward their degree, and the confidence they need to succeed once they get there.
The District will continue to announce additional academic milestones for its students throughout the Fall. Upcoming announcements include: students’ scholarship offers, the District’s average ACT rate, early college and career credentials and the freshman-on-track rate.

The raw number of CPS graduates is also increasing, even as the birthrate is declining and each class is smaller than its predecessor.
  • By summer 2016, 20,438 students from the 2011 cohort graduated.
  • By summer 2015, 20,316 students from the 2010 cohort graduated.
  • By summer 2014, 20,232 students from the 2009 cohort graduated.
  • By summer 2013, 19,906 students from the 2008 cohort graduated.
  • By summer 2012, 18,577 students from the 2007 cohort graduated.
  • By summer 2011, 18,446 students from the 2006 cohort graduated.

Page Last Modified on Monday, September 05, 2016