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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


Healthy CPS Schools

The Healthy CPS Certification provides schools with guidance and resources to implement services and provide support for the health, wellbeing, and safety of all students. CPS believes that healthy students are better learners and students learn better in healthy schools. To achieve Healthy CPS, schools earn badges in the following four areas that demonstrate their commitment to health promoting practices:

  • Health Leadership
  • Health Instruction
  • Healthy Environments
  • Health Services

To learn more about this initiative, visit


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 year 2020-21, 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 Consistency Analysis

While the School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) was suspended for school year 2020-21, we can use the previous 6 years of SQRP data to understand if schools have been consistent in their school quality. This analysis presents a new view of school quality over time and helps us understand how consistent or variable schools have been in their performance. Consistent school quality, especially schools that consistently meet or exceed expectations, can be relied on by families and students to provide an enduring quality experience that is less likely to fluctuate significantly from year to year.

Schools that are consistently Level 1+ or 1 can be thought of as consistently exceeding expectations. Schools that are consistently Level 1 or 2+ are consistently exceeding or meeting expectations. Schools that are consistently Level 2+ or 2 are sometimes meeting expectations. And schools that are consistently Level 2 or 3 are consistently not meeting expectations.

To better understand the consistency analysis, visit

School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP)

The School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) is CPS’s policy for measuring annual school performance. Level 1+ is the highest level and Level 3 is the lowest level. The SQRP is a five-tiered performance rating based on a broad range of indicators of success, including, but not limited to, student test score performance, student academic growth, closing of opportunity gaps, school culture and climate, attendance, graduation, and preparation for post-graduation success. The metrics for elementary, traditional high schools, and Options high schools are different but the rating levels (Level 1+, 1, 2+, 2, and 3) are consistent across school types. For more information, visit

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated shift to remote learning, CPS suspended the School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) for school year 2020-21.

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

Supportive Schools Program Data

CPS recognizes schools that have prioritized creating supportive environments and promoting a positive school culture through the Supportive Schools Certification process. This process involves collaboration between a team of school staff, students, families, and community members. Schools engage in building and sustaining an action plan centered around social and emotional learning. In doing so they earn one of the four levels of Supportive Schools Certification. Schools with an Established or Exemplary rating demonstrate the highest levels of implementation and commitment to a socially and emotionally supportive learning environment.

For more information, go to


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.