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National Experts Applaud Chicago for Being ‘One of the Fastest Improving Big-City School Districts in the Country’

10 April 2018

CPS Students Beat Average Score for Large Districts in 8th Grade Reading for the First Time

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

CHICAGO - Confirming the district’s reputation as a national leader for driving academic improvement, the results of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show that CPS students have sustained their noteworthy academic progress and now outscore their large city peers in eighth grade reading for the first time.

Leading national and state education experts applauded the results from Chicago students and their educators:

“These latest NAEP scores show that Chicago maintained the progress it has made up to this point in fourth grade reading and math, and it built on its previous gains at the eighth grade level in both subjects,” said Michael Casserly, Executive Director of the Council of the Great City Schools. “All in all, Chicago remains one of the fastest improving big-city school districts in the country--with much more to come. Kudos to Chicago.”

“The NAEP results add to the growing evidence of positive academic trends highlighted in other recent studies of Chicago Public Schools,” said Dr. Steve Tozer, Director of the UIC Center for Urban Education Leadership. “The data show sustained, long-term growth. By using data-informed practices and policies, CPS has emerged as a national leader for driving academic improvement.”

These results reaffirm what researchers from leading universities have found: CPS students are making durable progress that is an example for other urban districts around the country. Earlier this school year, groundbreaking research from Stanford Professor Sean Reardon showed that CPS students gain six years of growth in just five years of school and are improving at a rate faster than 96 percent of school districts in the U.S. – across every racial and socioeconomic subgroup.

“Chicago is leading the country in closing the achievement gap in math, and leading the way to a brighter future for children in every neighborhood across our city,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “These remarkable results are a testament to the hard work of Chicago’s students, teachers, principals and families who continue to make incredibly impressive gains in learning. Chicago’s children are making our city proud, and making education experts across the nation take notice.”

“Chicago’s long-term, consistent gains show that our students, educators, principals and parents have raised the bar for academic success in our city,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “While we still have work to do, we are committed to investing in strong academic programs in every neighborhood and ensuring every student in Chicago has access to a high quality education.”

The biannual NAEP tests evaluate fourth and eighth grade proficiency in math and reading to establish trend lines against state and national averages. About 6,700 CPS students from approximately 225 schools participated in NAEP testing between January and March of 2017. Schools were selected randomly, and students who were selected to participate took two 25-minute tests in either reading or math. The process was overseen by the National Center for Education Statistics.

According to the test:

  • CPS students outscored the average of the nation’s large city school districts in 8th grade reading for the first time;
  • Since 2011, CPS has achieved greater growth than all but two large districts in 4th grade reading;
  • Since 2003, CPS has achieved greater growth than all but one large district in 4th grade and 8th grade math;
  • CPS’ Hispanic 8th graders achieved the highest math scores of any large district in the country;
  • CPS ranked in the top 10 highest scoring large districts nationally for 8th grade math and reading; and
  • CPS has made gains on the average of the nation’s large city school districts in recent years, matching or exceeding them in nearly all tested areas.

CPS Students Lead Statewide Growth
Between 2003 and 2017, CPS scores have grown between 11-22 points in each category while the State of Illinois has grown between 1-5 points during the same time period. As a result of this progress, CPS students have slashed the gap between the district and the State of Illinois by more than half in each category – and been responsible for the vast majority of gains that the state is making.

Additionally, CPS African American and Hispanic students match or outperform Illinois students of the same demographic in almost every category, and the data shows that CPS students drive the state’s growth among these groups. This is consistent with UIC’s recent research showing that Chicago students consistently out-perform their Illinois peers in similar demographic groups.

Along with progress at the elementary school level, CPS students have been able to attain record-high graduation rates (77.5 percent), freshman-on-track rates (88.7 percent) and more CPS students earning early college and career credentials than ever before (43.4 percent). CPS is committed to increasing opportunities for students to participate in quality school programs including AP, IB, dual credit and dual enrollment, and investing in evidence-based resources and supports, including expanded social and emotional learning resources.

Chicago Public Schools serves 371,000 students in 646 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.