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Majority of Chicago Public Schools Students Engaging in Digital Remote Learning

27 May 2020

Chicago Public Schools Releases One of the Country’s Most Comprehensive Overviews of Remote Learning Engagement; 93 Percent of Students Have Digital Access

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
Twitter: @chipubschools
Facebook: chicagopublicschools

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

CHICAGO - Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today released comprehensive data on remote learning during the COVID-19 closure, which shows that the vast majority of CPS students at district schools are accessing remote learning digitally, are engaging in digital learning through Google platforms, have received graded assignments and have been in contact with their school communities. The district used a variety of Google analytics, GradeBook and school-reported data to create one of the most comprehensive overviews of remote learning released by any district in the country. A deck of data for student remote learning can be found here and these findings will be presented to the Board of Education at the Board meeting on Wednesday, May 27.

“The district and school communities across the city have executed a large-scale learning transition in a matter of weeks, an accomplishment that would have seemed impossible before the pandemic,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “While remote learning is not perfect and there’s room for improvement in data collection and participation, we are committed to using every bit of data to determine how we can better serve our schools, students and families during this time.”

On April 13, the district officially launched remote learning district-wide, which included the requirement that schools offer both digital and non-digital learning opportunities, maintain contact with students, and offer office hours to answer any questions. As part of this effort, the district distributed more than 122,000 computing devices to students and served more than 12 million meals to students in need.


  • 93 percent of CPS students at district schools have digital access.
    The percentage of students using Google learning tools for remote learning at least once a week has increased from 70 percent during the first week of remote learning (April 13 - April 17) to 77 percent during the week of May 11.
  • 84 percent of students received at least one grade for an assignment during the week of May 11, which is an increase from 51 percent during the week grading guidance was released during the week of April 27.
  • 85 percent of students were recorded as having contact with their school during the week of May 11 based on data reported by schools.

Remote Learning District Overview | Week of May 11
The district uses data from Google Analytics and internal sources to understand how we can better support teachers, students, and families during remote learning.

Remote Learning District Overview Week of May 11

While the majority of CPS students have digital access and are participating in remote learning, rates of Google tools participation are lower than typical student attendance and the percentage of students engaging through a Google platform declines when looking at students who engage more than one day per week. While these trends could be due to a variety of factors, including schools using digital tools that are not captured by current district data sources, the district will be refining metrics and engaging schools over the summer to gain insights and inform how it can support schools.

“We always knew this would be a challenging transition and I’m proud of the work principals, educators and communities have done to step up to the challenge in support of Chicago’s children,” said CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya D. McDade. “We have learned a lot during this time period, and we look forward to using these lessons to continue to improve how we serve our students.”

Methodology and Data
In order to provide comprehensive data, the district used a variety of analytics and metrics to capture critical components of remote learning. A description of the metrics can be found below.

  • Digital Access
    • Students are considered to have digital access based on Google analytic data and school-reported data as of May 22.
    • Combining Google analytic data with school-reported data helped the district capture students who may be learning on other digital tools, such as Zoom.
    • Schools were asked to classify students as either digital learners based on whether they have a device and internet access, non-digital learners, or students that schools were unable to contact. Schools are able to change the status of students if they gained digital access during remote learning, and the metric represents the status of students as of May 22.
  • Students Using Google Meet or Classroom
    • Student activity is logged automatically when a student joins a Google Meet or logs in to Google Classroom using CPS login credentials.
      • District data show that most students in primary grades do not use their CPS login credentials, making it impossible to log their activity on the Google platform. This trend is most pronounced in grades Pre-K and Kindergarten.
        • The data show contact levels for these grades to be 82 percent or more, which tells us they are engaging in ways other than through using Google. Anecdotally, the district believes students in these grades are more likely to use other digital tools tailored to early learners, such as Schoology or Seesaw.
      • To account for these trends, the district created an “adjusted total” that excluded grades Pre-K - K. The district has included both a non-adjusted and adjusted total in the data and has broken it out by grade.
        • Currently, the district is not able to comprehensively capture usage on non-Google platforms, however, the data show the majority of CPS students are using Google platforms at the very least for digital remote learning.
      • In order to provide for maximum flexibility for schools during the crisis, the district provided a list of recommended Google tools for remote learning, but gave schools the autonomy to use other digital learning tools.
  • Percent of Students Receiving a Graded Assignment:
    • Students are marked as having a “graded assignment” if they have turned in at least one assignment that has been scored by a teacher over the course of a week.
    • Because Pre-K and Kindergarten students do not receive graded assignments, they were excluded from this metric in the adjusted total.
  • Percent of Students Contacted
    • Schools were asked to track if they were able to make contact with a student at least once a week through either digital learning, office hours, academic support, or social and emotional check-ins. Through the district’s remote learning plan, schools are required to make contact with all students at least once per week.
    • Schools have been tracking contact data on their own throughout the closure, however, the district did not require they centrally submit contact data until the week of May 18. The district is requesting principals centrally submit data to the district through the remainder of the school year.
    • Not all schools have submitted data; what is shared is the data the district has available as of May 22.

While the information released today represents one of the most comprehensive remote learning data presentations released by any district in the country, as part of our planning for the fall, additional data is needed to fully understand student learning and engagement in the district. The district will be providing an end-of-year, final data breakdown after the 2019-20 school year has concluded using the current methodology, and will be further refining these metrics and data reporting requirements for the future. As part of those efforts, the district intends to require a shift to Google platforms to ensure we have the most comprehensive data analytics and insights to inform policies and allow the district to better support students and educators.

Chicago Public Schools serves 355,000 students in 642 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.