Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today announced that as a result of new legislation standardizing credit policies at Illinois colleges and universities, CPS students who have achieved a passing score on International Baccalaureate (IB) exams will now receive college credit at all public post-secondary institutions in Illinois. As the nation’s largest IB network, this new state policy will reduce the cost of college for CPS students and create more opportunities for them to earn credits toward their college degree while still in high school.
The new state credit policy follows Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ambitious goal, announced last month, to encourage at least half of all CPS high school students to earn one or more college credit by 2019. At nearly 40 percent last year, more students than ever before are earning college credit while in high school through IB, Advanced Placement, Dual Credit and Dual Enrollment and STEM coursework and programs.
“More than ever before, Chicago’s students are breaking records—from high school graduation, to college enrollment, and college completion—a testament to the hard work by our students, teachers and parents,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I want to thank our teachers, and Rep. Ammons and her colleagues in the legislature, for championing these reforms and working together to ensure that students in Chicago and across the state have more opportunities to prepare for college by attaining the hard-earned credits that will make them better prepared for success on day one.”
Late last month, the state approved an amendment to the College and Career Success for All Students Act to establish a standardized IB exam college credit policy for all public colleges and universities in Illinois. Under the new law, public higher education institutions must grant college credit to all students who earn a passing score (4- or above on a 7-point scale) on an IB exam.
“Students who pass an IB exam have demonstrated mastery of complex, college-level coursework, and thanks to the advocacy of CPS teachers and state leaders, all students who pass an IB exam will receive the college credit they deserve,” said Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “With the graduation rate in Chicago continuing to climb, this policy will have a real impact on our students by decreasing the cost of their college education and allowing them to enter college on day one with a well-deserved head start toward their degree.”
The passage of this legislation was due in large part to CPS teachers who helped raise awareness of this issue and build support in Springfield for legislation. CPS teachers and IB coordinators David Gregg (Senn High School) and Jessica Stephenson (Prosser Career Academy) recognized the impact of IB’s rigorous coursework for their students, and took it upon themselves to ensure that students were rightfully credited for the coursework, just like they are for AP coursework.
"We are very excited about the passage of this legislation, which justly rewards the growing number of IB students in our district and throughout Illinois,” said Senn High School IB Middle Years Programme Coordinator David Gregg. “By ensuring appropriate post-secondary recognition for their hard work and high achievement, this legislation promises to help our students translate their achievements as IB learners to success in college and beyond.”
Previously, colleges and universities maintained their own credit policies, which often did not provide college credit to students who received passing scores on IB exams. Under the new law, students and families will benefit from a standardized policy at all Illinois institutions, encouraging high-performing students to attend college in state and reducing the cost of college for students who demonstrated success on IB exams.
"I was pleased to be the House sponsor for this legislation to make higher education more accessible and affordable, particularly for high achieving students of color,” said State Rep. Carol Ammons. “Higher education is an important factor for economic success, and our state depends on a well-educated work force. We appreciate Governor Rauner signing this important legislation that will help move our students toward their educational goals while we keep our state financially competitive."
CPS and the City of Chicago have invested in IB, because of its demonstrated track record of preparing students for success in college. An analysis by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research determined CPS IB students are 40 percent more likely to attend a selective four-year college than their peers, and a recent report from CPS determined that nearly 100 percent of IB diploma programme participants graduate from high school, and 88 percent of those students persist through college.
CPS currently offers IB programs at 22 high schools across the District: Amundsen, Back of the Yards, Bogan, Bronzeville Scholastic Institute, Clemente, Curie Metropolitan, Farragut, Hubbard, Hyde Park Academy, Juarez, Kelly, Kennedy, Lincoln Park, Morgan Park, Ogden International School of Chicago, Prosser, Schurz, Senn, South Shore International, Steinmetz Academic Centre, Taft, and Washington high schools. CPS also offers IB programs at 21 elementary schools across the District.
Under Mayor Emanuel, access to IB coursework has been significantly expanded to help ensure families throughout Chicago have access to high-quality, intensive curriculum that prepares students for success beyond our doors. Since 2011, enrollment in IB programs has increased 370 percent, and participation in high school IB programs has quadrupled. This past school year, 13,310 students were enrolled in CPS IB programs, and this coming school year the District will increase IB enrollment by more than 20 percent to nearly 15,200 students.
The IB program is one of many options for students in CPS schools to earn college credit, reducing the financial burden of higher education and allowing students to make progress on their college pathways. Mayor Emanuel and CPS have invested in other similarly rigorous college-level programs around the city to provide students with credit-earning opportunities, including: AP courses, CTE and Dual Enrollment/Dual Credit courses, and Early College STEM programs.
Chicago Public Schools serves 392,000 students in 660 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.