The truth behind CPS’s graduation rate rise
by Josh Dwyer Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union both patted themselves on the back this week for a two percentage point increase in CPS’s graduation rate over the past year, up to 63 percent from 61 percent. Here’s what they said: “We are happy to see increased graduation rates for CPS. It proves those...
by Josh Dwyer
Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union both patted themselves on the back this week for a two percentage point increase in CPS’s graduation rate over the past year, up to 63 percent from 61 percent. Here’s what they said:
“We are happy to see increased graduation rates for CPS. It proves those diatribes against teachers and the labeling of our public schools as failing is not only mean-spirited but inaccurate. We only wish that CPS had applied the same approach to the scores of schools they just closed.” – CTU press release
“This graduation rate is a testament to our hard-working students, educators and administrators, but we know there is more to do. With a full school day, a full day of kindergarten, a rigorous curriculum tied to Common Core standards and increasing STEM and IB programs, and working with parents and our communities, we will keep this momentum going on behalf of every child in every neighborhood across the city.” –CPS press release
As CPS and the CTU continue giving themselves high fives, it’s worth examining what this rise in graduation rates really means.
At a bare minimum, it means that more CPS high schoolers were able to complete CPS’s minimum high school graduation requirements over the course of five years (not four).
Unfortunately, these requirements are not rigorous. In fact, students can fail one of four core classes (English, mathematics, science and social sciences) each year and still advance to the next grade level. They also only have to garner just a D in each class they take to earn the 24 credit hours they need to graduate.
It’s important to remember what a graduation rate doesn’t tell us – namely, how prepared the graduating students are for college. On that front, CPS and the CTU are failing miserably.
According to a recent report, 45 percent of CPS graduates begin their senior year not doing well enough academically to attend a four-year college. In the fall after graduation, the most common outcome for these students was to be neither working nor in school.
Statistics from the City Colleges of Chicago also show a grim picture. From the fall 2009 semester, of the more than 2,800 CPS high school graduates attending CCC, 71 percent needed remedial reading, 81 percent needed remedial English and 94 percent needed remedial math.
Overall, 40 percent of this group took two remedial courses, an additional 21 percent took three remedial courses and 10 percent took four remedial courses.
Clearly, this is not the hallmark of a successful K-12 education system.
None of this will change unless CPS and CTU are held accountable for these lackluster results. The only way to do that is to empower parents and let them to decide what school works best for their child. My bet is that it’s not a school where almost a majority of graduates are neither working nor in school after graduation, or spending thousands of dollars in student loans taking remediation classes in college.