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Mayor Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools Announce District’s Lowest-Ever One-Year Dropout Rate

22 August 2019

Improvements Driven by African American and Latino Males

CPS Office of Communications

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

Thursday, August 22, 2019

CHICAGO - Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools announced today that the district’s one-year dropout rate has reached an all-time low of 6.0 percent, which was driven by progress made by African American and Latino males. Providing support to students who are most at-risk of dropping out through a focus on social and emotional learning, strong partnerships like Becoming a Man and Working on Womanhood, and the district’s commitment to restorative practices has led to a nearly 50 percent reduction in the percent of students who drop out over the course of a year compared to 2011.

"CPS' teachers, support staff and principals are transforming the lives of our young people, helping them to recognize their potential and inspire more opportunities for their future,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “The record-low one-year dropout rate is a reflection of our collective commitment to ensure that every student, regardless of zip code or household income is on a pathway not only to graduation, but also to a viable future post-graduation."

The district’s one-year dropout rate decreased by 0.4 percentage points, from 6.4 percent in 2018 to 6.0 percent in 2019, which was driven by progress made by African American and Latino males, whose one-year dropout rate both decreased by 0.5 percentage points (9.5 percent to 9 percent; 6.5 percent to 6 percent, respectively) between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. This year’s dropout rate of 6.0 percent marks a 46 percent reduction from the dropout rate of 11.2 percent in 2011, with the number of students dropping out in a year reduced by more than half.

The one-year dropout rate measures the percent of students who drop out over the course of a given year, as opposed to the cohort dropout rate which reflects multiple years and aligns with the annual cohort graduation rate.

“Through expanding access to rigorous academic programs, increasing staffing to support student needs and magnifying our focus on equity, social and emotional learning and restorative justice, CPS is keeping more students in the classroom year after year and creating strong, student-centered schools in every neighborhood across the city,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson.

In order to continue building upon the district’s progress, CPS has prioritized initiatives centered on equity that are focused on engaging the district’s most vulnerable youth who are most likely to drop out of high school. Recently, the district established a partnership with the University of Chicago Education Labs to evaluate how Options Schools can provide the best possible educational experience and social-emotional support to the city’s most vulnerable students. The City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools also launched a groundbreaking initiative called Summer for Change for students who are at the highest risk of being impacted by gun violence. The six-week program provided youth with access to individualized mentoring, group-based therapy, educational opportunities, enrichment activities and more. The district and the City of Chicago have also made a commitment to expand school resources, including adding at least 200 social worker positions to CPS schools over the next five years.

The district has also taken steps to prioritize academic equity, including the establishment of the Office of Equity, which is designed to help address the opportunity gap and ensure students are equitably receiving the resources and support they need to succeed. Key initiatives centered on equity include:

  • Curriculum Equity Initiative: The Curriculum Equity Initiative will create a standards-aligned, culturally relevant library of teacher resources to ensure that students in every part of Chicago can benefit from a high-quality curriculum and instructional resources.
  • Equity Grants: To ensure that students who attend schools with low and declining enrollment receive the benefits that students attending larger schools receive, CPS is providing $31 million in equity grant funding to 219 elementary and high schools that need additional support.
  • Largest-Ever Program Expansion: To build on the record-setting academic progress being made in Chicago schools, the district awarded new academic programs to benefit nearly 17,000 CPS students at 32 schools across the city as part of the largest-ever program expansion in district schools.

The one-year dropout rate data for the 2018-19 school year is available at

Chicago Public Schools serves 361,000 students in 644 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.