Chicago’s high school graduation rate has risen yearly since 2006, new University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research data show. Notably, the gains have not come at the expense of Chicago students’ achievement. Grads are now more qualified for college and career than they were previously.
“They are passing more classes in ninth grade; earning more credits while taking more difficult classes in high school; more students are taking the ACT, and average ACT scores have increased by almost two points from 16.7 to 18.6,” Elaine Allensworth, the lead author of the study, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Data from the study show that graduation rates have improved from 52.4% in 1999 to more than 74.8% in 2014. Many students are taking more challenging courses to prepare themselves for college, and average ACT scores have jumped by nearly two points.
“That points out when you hold high standards up and you put in the supports necessary, then kids rise to it,” said Alan Mather, the chief of college and career success at Chicago Public Schools, told the Sun-Times.
The great news in Chicago’s graduation rates comes in the face of a daunting financial crisis. Without a state budget and funding fix, Chicago schools and districts across the state face the prospect of potentially not opening on time in the fall.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel noted the rising graduation rates, saying “When we make the right investments in our students’ education, there is no limit to the success they can achieve.”
He also underscored the uncertainty facing CPS and schools across the state. “Yet at a time when our students are making record gains in ACT scores, graduation rates, and college participation, schools face the unacceptable possibility of having it all undermined by devastating cuts and the continuation of an inequitable state funding formula.
“I urge everyone in Springfield to look closely at this latest report, see the academic progress that is at risk, and put the children of this city and this state first by adequately and equitably funding education.”
We urge action in Springfield, too. Contact your elected officials today and tell them that we need fair school funding now.