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From High School to the Future

April 1, 2006

For Chicago Public School (CPS) graduates, grades are a more important predictor of college enrollment and graduation than college entrance test scores, according to a study from the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. This study also found substantial differences across colleges in graduation rates among highly qualified CPS graduates, suggesting that the colleges students attend matters a great deal. The study paints a discouraging picture of college success for CPS graduates. Despite the fact that nearly 80% of seniors state they expect to graduate from a four-year college, only about one-third enroll in a 4-year college within a year of high school graduation, and only 35% of those who enroll received a bachelor's degree within 6 years. The study found that boys are less likely to enter and graduate from college than girls with similar abilities. Also, CPS Latino graduates attend college below both national and Illinois averages for Latino high school graduates.

The On-Track Indicator as a Predictor of High School Graduation

June 1, 2005

This indicator identifies students as on-track if they earn at least five full-year course credits and no more than one semester F in their first year of high school. On-track students are more than three and one-half times more likely to graduate from high school in four years than off-track students. The indicator is a more accurate predictor of graduation than students' previous achievement test scores or their background characteristics. Perhaps the most important finding from this report is that failures during the first year of high school make a student much less likely to graduate. Based on their findings, the authors believe that parents and teachers should carefully monitor students' grades, especially in the first semester of freshman year, when there are still many opportunities to improve grades. Helping students make a successful transition to high school during the first semester could make students more likely to graduate. This report also finds that on-track students are not necessarily the students with the highest achievement test scores. Many students with strong achievement fail to graduate, and many students who have demonstrated weaker achievement succeed in graduating. Finally, this report concludes that the particular school a student attends plays a large role in whether the student is on-track. While we expect schools to have students with differing levels of preparation for high school, differences in the number of students on-track at each school remained even when the authors controlled for students' eighth-grade test scores and socioeconomic status. This suggests that school climate and structure play a significant role in whether students succeed in high school. Schools can use the on-track indicator, which makes use of readily available data on course credits and failures, to understand what aspects of the school may be leading students to drop out.

Graduation and Dropout Trends in Chicago: A look at cohorts of students from 1991 through 2004 (highlights)

January 1, 2005

The Illinois State Board of Education sets the official method for calculating graduation and dropout rates in the state. According to that method, the graduation rate for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is 69.8 percent. The Consortium calculates that only 54 percent of CPS students graduate. What accounts for this disparity? The answer is that calculating graduation and dropout rates is far more complex than simply dividing the number of graduates by the number of students enrolled in a school. Decisions about how to construct the formulas used to calculate these rates affect the resulting numbers. Decisions about how to define terms like "graduate," "drop out," and "transfer" also affect the graduation and dropout statistics. This report was created using the individual records of all CPS students, which produces the system's actual graduation and dropout rates rather than estimates. This report also breaks down graduation and dropout rates by race/ethnicity, gender, community area, and school. Extensive tables and graphs present this information from a variety of perspectives, in order to provide the most nuanced, accurate, and detailed picture of CPS student outcomes that is currently available.

Educational Technology: Availability and Use in Chicago's Public Schools

September 1, 2002

With expectations for technology use and its potential costs continuing to rise, the Consortium on Chicago School Research sought to provide baseline information on educational technology -- the use of computers and the Internet for instructional purposes -- in Chicago public schools. We addressed three questions in a year-long study that included both quantitative and qualitative analyses: (1) What are the current levels of technology availability and use? (2) Are availability and use distributed equitably across students, teachers, and schools in the district? and (3) What essential organizational supports are necessary to encourage technology use in schools? We examine these topics by looking at nearly 100,000 responses to the Consortium's biannual survey of teachers and students in 434 of Chicago's schools, in addition to other administrative data. Further insight was gained through site visits to schools with model technology programs. This study was sponsored in part by the Chicago Urban League.

School Instructional Program Coherence: Benefits and Challenges

January 1, 2001

This report is one of a series of special topic reports developed by the Chicago Annenberg Research Project. It discusses an important reason why schools involved in multiple improvement initiatives do not always improve their students' achievements. It introduces the concept of instructional program coherence and presents new evidence that students in Chicago elementary schools with stronger program coherence show higher gains in student achievement. The report suggests ways in which school leaders, school improvement partners, and policy makers can act to bring about the instructional coherence that will reward their school improvement efforts.