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Find definitions to specific terminology used in ARA reports.

Key Words



Birth rate data are sourced through the Illinois Department of Public Health.


Census Data

The ARA utilizes population figures and other demographic data such as household income as provided by the most current United States Census Bureau estimates.


Distance Traveled and Commute Time

Distance traveled and commute time are calculated based on the student’s home address and the address of their school. Commute time was calculated using Google Maps travel time estimations using the shorter travel time between walking and public transit. The analysis takes into account school start times and chooses routes that minimize travel and wait time. Any wait time before a trip starts is not included but wait times due to transfers are included.


Early College and Career Credential (ECCC) Programs

Early College and Career Credential (ECCC) programs provide access and support for rigorous, college-level, hands-on, and career-focused courses and experiences. ECCC programs advance student postsecondary success through earned college credits or professional credentials and the exposure to soft skills needed to succeed in college, civic, life, and the 21st-century labor market.

Students can earn an ECCC in more than one program. Each ECCC program sets their own credential achievement criteria. To learn more, go to


Options High Schools

Options high schools serve students who need a new pathway toward high school graduation. CPS schools offer additional supports and services for students who have been out of school and seek to return or who may need opportunities to earn credits in an accelerated program. Some of CPS’s campuses offer additional supports such as counseling and alternative schedules for students who may work during the traditional school day.


Postsecondary Success Indicators

While the School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) was suspended for school years 2020-21 and 2021-22, some data on student outcomes is available as an indicator of how schools are preparing high school students for postsecondary success. The ARA contains data on how high school students are progressing towards high school graduation, college enrollment, and college persistence goals. For more information on these metrics, visit


School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP)

Since 2013, CPS has used the School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) to evaluate and publicly report on annual school performance. In 2020, CPS suspended the SQRP due to the impact of COVID-19. School quality ratings were not released for school year 2020-21 and again for 2021-22.

The Annual Regional Analysis has utilized school quality ratings to explore and present data on student and school performance across the district since the ARA was first released in 2017. The absence of updated ratings limits our ability to present comprehensive and comparable indicators of school quality. This year, CPS has opted not to present the portions of the Quality section that rely exclusively on SQRP data. Postsecondary indicators of student success have been included as they rely on data that has consistently and reliably been available over the last two years. This data, while an incomplete picture of student performance and school quality, presents a perspective on how CPS schools are preparing students for graduation and life after high school.

Lastly, CPS is currently engaging in an accountability redesign process to develop the district’s new School Quality Rating Policy. The goals of the redesigned SQRP are to:
- Provide a more complete picture of school performance and progress
- Improve the district's capacity to support schools
- Provide clear information to parents and the public
- Evaluate and report on district effectiveness

When implemented, updated SQRP data will be made available in the ARA Quality section. For more information on the SQRP accountability redesign initiative, visit

Space Utilization Standards

CPS calculates seats based on the total number of instructional classrooms available in the main/permanent building. An elementary school building’s ideal capacity (IC) is derived first by multiplying the total number of classrooms by 77%, rounding down to the nearest whole number, and then multiplying this product by 30. Each high school’s maximum capacity is identified as a function of the total number of classroom spaces multiplied by 30. In 2018-19, an update to the CPS space utilization standards resulted in a reduction in the number of classrooms used in the calculation of ideal capacity of a school building. Special education cluster program classrooms, Pre-K classrooms, and small classrooms are no longer included in the number of seats. For more information, visit


Zoned Schools and Applying to Schools

Zoned schools have attendance boundaries. Every street address in the City of Chicago is assigned one attendance area elementary school and one high school. To identify specific school boundaries, use the CPS School Locator, Students can attend their designated zoned school without having to submit an application. Students can apply to attend another zoned school that has available seats and admissions is determined by a lottery. Citywide schools do not have attendance boundaries and admit students through a lottery.