CPS Partnering with Universities and Colleges to Increase Completion Rates for CPS Graduates 

District Asks Higher Education Leaders to Join Compact to Improve College Achievement Rates

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced today that it is partnering with leaders in higher education to form the Chicago Higher Education Compact, a collaboration dedicated to developing solutions to increase college enrollment, persistence and completion for CPS graduates, with the goal of increasing the college graduation rate for CPS students to 60 percent by 2025.

A report by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research (CCSR) today reveals that an estimated 14 percent of ninth-graders in CPS will earn a four-year college degree within 10 years of starting high school, up from just 8 percent in 2006. Despite the fact that more CPS students are graduating from high school than ever before, the report also calls attention to the fact that many students remain unprepared for college, and that students experience barriers to college completion once enrolled. The Compact seeks to address barriers and enhance preparation.

“Chicago’s students are improving faster than students across the nation, with college enrollment rates up, completion rates up, and scholarships dollars exceeding $800 million last year,” CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “While we recognize this progress, we know our work isn’t done until all students are prepared to enter the 21st century workforce. Under this new partnership, leaders in higher education are joining together to increase the number of students who graduate and enter the workforce prepared and educated.” 

The District has solicited the top colleges and universities attended by CPS graduates to join the Compact. So far, the District has received commitments from the following colleges and universities, in addition to partners at the CCSR, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Chicago Collaborative for Undergraduate Success, the Higher Learning Commission - North Central Association and Thrive Chicago, which will serve the Compact in an advisory capacity*:


  • Columbia College Chicago
  • DePaul University
  • Dominican University
  • Eastern Illinois University
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Illinois State University
  • Loyola University
  • Moraine Valley Community College
  • National Louis University
  • Northeastern Illinois University
  • Northwestern University
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Robert Morris University
  • Roosevelt University
  • Saint Xavier University
  • Southern Illinois University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Illinois – Chicago
  • University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Illinois at Springfield

In addition to the importance of united effort with our post-secondary partners, the District recognizes that quality of college advising a student receives is one of the greatest drivers of whether a student enrolls and persists in college. School counselors and post-secondary advisors must consider issues such as academic match, personal fit, and affordability when helping a student select a college.

CPS, in collaboration with Thrive Chicago, is thus piloting a comprehensive professional development program to provide post-secondary advising staff with everything they need to know to be a best practice advisor.  The Chicago College Advising Credential (CCAC) is a comprehensive, face-to-face eight-day training that is tailored to be relevant to Chicago’s student population. 

Few districts have implemented training as comprehensive as the CCAC, and these modules will allow the District to maximize all post-secondary advising staff's ability to establish a college-going culture and positively impact student post-secondary outcomes. The training is a series of eight workshops focused on the knowledge college advisors need to adequately help students prepare for their path after high school.

CPS is partnering with leaders of colleges and universities to develop solutions and ensure students receive supports to keep them on-track to graduate college once they enroll. Members of the Compact will convene quarterly to share goals, progress and best practices. The collective goal is to, by 2025, elevate CPS as a national leader in college graduation rates. 

The goal of 60 percent of CPS graduates completing a four-year degree by 2025 will serve as the target for the entire Compact while the District works collaboratively to set and meet institution-specific goals. Additionally, CPS has committed to growing our high school graduation rate, increasing academic rigor and social/emotional supports to increase college readiness and improving the training of our counselors and post-secondary staff to ensure all students are provided quality college advising so that they enroll in schools where they can be most successful.

Chicago Public Schools serves 396,000 students in 664 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.

*Updated April 28, 2015