New Freshmen-on-Track Data Shows More CPS Students Are Likely to Graduate Than Ever Before 

Freshmen-on-Track Rate is the Highest on Record, Driven by African American and Hispanic Students Narrowing the Achievement Gap
Sunday, August 27, 2017      

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CHICAGO – Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools today announced that rate for freshmen on-track to graduate is the highest measure on record at 88.7 percent, up more than 28 percent since 2011. The increase is driven by African-American and Hispanic students, who considerably narrowed the achievement gap in the past year. 

The gap between students of different races has narrowed dramatically since 2011. In 2017, 87.1 percent of African American freshmen were on-track, a nearly 40 percent improvement from 2011 when the on-track rate for African Americans was 62.3 percent. Hispanic students have also made strong gains since 2011. In 2017, 88.7 percent of Hispanic students were on-track, a 24 percent improvement from 2011’s on-track rate of 71.5.

"Every year, Chicago's students come to high school ready to redefine what can be achieved when given the opportunity and support to succeed," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Our students are more prepared than ever for a strong future, and we will continue to make investments to guarantee the quality education that each of our children deserves.”

Freshmen on-track is a research-based measurement that is the single best indicator of whether or not a student will graduate, and it has risen for the sixth year in a row – signaling that more CPS students are likely to graduate than ever before. 

CPS’ work on freshmen-on-track interventions in schools, in partnership with the University of Chicago’s Consortium on School Research, is leading the nation in putting practices in place that help freshmen succeed. In 2011, CPS’ freshmen on track rate was 69.0 percent. 

“Once again, students are reaping the benefits of partnering with the University of Chicago to use evidence-based strategies to support their school careers,” CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said. “Record-breaking growth in freshmen on-track and graduate rates is evidence of a profound cultural shift that’s focused on supporting students when it matters the most in order to increase their odds of success.”

Freshmen on-track is valuable not only for its predictive value, but also for its ability to identify and help students who need additional academic supports. With clear data, teachers and schools are able to provide additional support such as tutoring, mentoring and individualized progress monitoring to get students back on-track. With this strategy, more students are staying in school because educators and administrators have the data to identify hurdles to success early on. This has allowed the district to sustain progress and increase graduation rates every year since 2007.

“CPS has emerged as national leader in urban education because our educators work so hard to use the best research to help students succeed,” Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice K. Jackson said. “While we have work to do to definitively close the achievement gap, Chicago’s steadily rising freshmen on-track rates is happening because principals, teachers and counselors are using strategic research and strong supports to help students flourish.”    

Background: About Freshmen-on-Track 

Freshmen on-track is an evidence-based indicator developed by the University of Chicago’s Consortium on School Research (CCSR) that predicts whether or not a student is likely to graduate based on performance during their freshman year. Students are considered on-track if they pass at least five course credits and failed no more than one course in a core subject during their freshman year. Analysis shows that a student who passes ninth grade is almost four times more likely to graduate than one who doesn’t, which has transformed the way CPS identifies and supports students who need additional assistance during their freshman year of high school. 

Freshmen on-track is also highly predictive of future graduation rates, and the district has focused extensively on freshmen on-track to ensure students receive the supports and resources they need early in their high school careers. In 2008, CPS was the first district in the country to implement freshmen on-track and upon seeing the predictive and prescriptive value, several other school districts have adopted the metric. 

The CPS graduation rate has improved by 28 percent since 2011, rising to 73.5 percent for 2016, and is growing more than three times faster than the national rate in the same time frame. Graduation rates have been driven by the district’s focus on freshmen on-track and commitment to increasing supports for students. 

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

Page Last Modified on Wednesday, August 30, 2017