First-Ever CPS Academic Progress Report Shows Student Gains Across the Board 

Freshman On-Track Rate Reaches Record High of 87.4 Percent;
Dropout Rate Hits Record Low of 6.8 Percent


Wednesday, September 7, 2016                                                       

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CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620

CHICAGO — In its first-ever progress report, Chicago Public Schools provided a comprehensive picture of students’ dramatic improvements since 2011 on key metrics including participation in the arts, math and reading growth, graduation rates, freshman on-track to graduate, attendance and dropout rates.

The progress report reveals for the first time that the District’s freshman-on-track rate – one of the most critical indicators for success – for the 2015-16 school year hit an all-time high of 87.4 percent – one of the District’s most critical indicators for future success. Furthermore, at 6.8 percent, the high school drop-out rate has nearly been cut in half since 2011. By focusing on these two predictive indicators early in students’ high school careers, CPS principals have been able to fuel impressive growth in the graduation rate – doubling the nation’s growth.

“Chicago’s schools are realizing record-high academic achievements, a direct result of the hard work of our students, teachers, parents and principals,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “We will continue to make important investments in our schools that will prepare our students for a strong future – building on a longer school day and school year that provide our children the quality academic experience they deserve and the tools they need to succeed. Even though Chicago’s schools were labeled worst in nation 30 years ago, the results are now in that the future for Chicago’s children is indeed very bright.”

“Parents at schools throughout the city have seen dramatic improvements at the school level in recent years, and the report issued today provides a clear picture of how CPS as a whole has transformed in a short period of time to be a national leader in urban education,” CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said.

As the progress report notes, the CPS freshman on-track rate rose from 84.1 percent in 2015 to 87.4 percent in 2016, which is a record high for the District. Freshman on-track is highly predictive of future graduation rates, and the District has focused extensively on freshman on-track to ensure students receive the supports and resources they need early in their high school careers. The 2016 freshman on-track rate is an increase of 18.4 percentage points over the 2011 rate, which is a highly encouraging improvement in a relatively short period of time.
“I have seen firsthand how keeping students on track during their freshman year gives them the tools and confidence needed to graduate and succeed in life,” CPS Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice K. Jackson said. “Our steadily rising freshman on-track rate bodes well for the future and confirms that with the right strategies, supports and resources, our students have unlimited potential.” The report also includes new data on the SY 15-16 1-year dropout rate. In SY 15-16, the 1-year dropout rate fell to 6.8 percent from 7.9 percent the year before. Following a series of reforms and investments designed to keep students more connected to their school communities, the decline in the dropout rate is consistent with a recent trend in the District showing a steady drop from 11.2 percent in 2011 to 6.8 percent this year. In addition to the new data released today, the District’s progress report captures several other crucial metrics that are key in determining the performance of our students and schools, including:

  • Arts: Working with community partners, CPS has more than doubled the number of schools earning a “strong” or “excelling” Creative Arts Certification.

  • Attendance: The District’s attendance rate was 93.4 percent in 2016, a record high for CPS.

  • Graduation: The percent of students graduating hit an all-time high of 73.5 percent in 2016, which outpaces national average gains and represents a monumental 16.6 percentage point increase since 2011.

  • Math and Reading: In recent years CPS students achieved record scores on two key measurements of math and reading skills, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the Northwest Evaluation Association Measure of Academic Progress (NWEA-MAP).

    • NWEA: In 2016, CPS students achieved record attainment levels on math and reading and exceeded national averages of student growth

    • NAEP: According to NAEP, “the nation’s report card,” CPS students outpaced the academic growth of their national and state peers in both math and reading in the most-recent NAEP test, and Chicago students’ gains were among the largest in the nation in both 8th grade math and 4th grade reading.

Under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership, the District has made strategic investments to support students and educators in recent years through several key initiatives designed to encourage student growth and performance. By extending and standardizing the length of the school day, implementing rigorous Common Core curriculum, and expanding access to high-quality school options and programming throughout the city – including STEM, IB, AP and dual-credit/dual-enrollment opportunities – academic performance has steadily increased, and students are now graduating from CPS schools better prepared for success in college and career. The 2016 District Academic Progress Report can be viewed at

Page Last Modified on Thursday, August 09, 2018