Chicago Public School officials want to celebrate a record graduation rate when much of the other data shows they are failing Chicago’s children.
Only 26 percent of CPS 11th-graders can read and do math at grade level, according to the latest Illinois Report Card data, and yet last week the district proudly announced that 84 percent of students graduated from CPS in 2021 – a new record high.
First of all, color us skeptical about that record high rate. Everyone knows that the city’s children were underserved by remote learning – the failures were reported ad nauseum by the press. Announcing record graduation rates is a way for district officials to sweep those failures under the rug.
But there’s a more fundamental problem: the graduation rate distracts from the fact that CPS officials are pushing out poorly educated children.
Only 26 of Chicago 11th-graders are proficient in English Language Arts and only 27 percent proficient in math according to 2019 Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) data.
Nearly 83 percent of students in CPS are either black or Hispanic, and, unfortunately, they have the lowest scores.
Just 14 percent of black 11th-graders are proficient in English Language Arts and just 13 percent are proficient in math. Hispanics aren’t much better, with just 25 proficient in reading and 27 percent proficient in math.
Pushing students through the system under “social promotion” only sets up thousands of children for failure every year.
“Social promotion” starts early at CPS. Just 30 percent of black children can read at grade level in the third grade, and just 37 percent of Hispanics can. Nevertheless, those students are sent on to the next grade year after year.
And when they do finally graduate, about 60 percent of students that attend community college end up having to take remedial courses.
CPS is in deep trouble, as we’ve documented recently, with more than 100,000 kids having left the district since 2000. And that’s despite a doubling in per student funding.
There are plenty of reasons for inner city families to leave Chicago. The homicides, the ever-increasing cost-of-living, the lack of opportunity – we talked about all of those issues and more in our recent podcast with South Sider Devin Jones. And poor education is high on the list, for sure.
Unsurprisingly, the farce continues. District officials now say they want to hit a 90 percent graduation rate by 2024.
Forget the graduation rate. Focus, instead, on whether the kids can read or write at grade level.