Groundbreaking research was released on November 1, 2017 that showed Chicago Public School students make faster academic gains than students in 96% of school districts in America. Not only that, more CPS students are graduating from high school, going to college, and earning degrees, the data show.
This progress, which often gets lost in the negative narrative about Chicago Public Schools, was on full display November 2, 2017 when the Joyce Foundation and the Spencer Foundation hosted a forum that brought together preeminent researchers, educators, funders and policymakers to discuss the findings and share thoughts on what’s driving the gains. Attendees also discussed what needs to happen to and speed up the progress and ensure students, especially those of color and those who live in poverty, are ready for college and career success.
At the forum, Sean Reardon, Professor of Poverty and Inequality in Education at Stanford University, presented new research that shows CPS elementary school students make six years’ worth of learning gains in five years. This growth outpaces virtually every other district in America. Research also was presented that shows CPS students are powering the academic gains at the state level.
Education experts offered many reasons for progress, including the district’s laser focus on improving teacher and principal quality, and the close ties to the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. The Consortium researches virtually every CPS policy. District leaders, principals and teachers have embraced the research and used it to alter course when policies are not working or double-down when they are. The enthusiastic adoption of the Consortium’s Freshman On-Track research is one example of research that led to good things for kids. In 2006, 61% of CPS freshman were on track to graduate high school. In 2016, 88% were on track.
To build off the momentum, experts suggested a deeper commitment to birth to five learning, provide teachers and principals more time to collaborate around learning goals, help guide more students to and through college, and counter the false narrative about the district.
In early November of 2017, the Joyce Foundation and the Spencer Foundation convened a group of Chicago’s civic and educational leaders to discuss research findings that reflect on the root causes of CPS improvement and to start a conversation on next steps for research, practice, and policy.
View video of the forum below:
In early April 2018, Beth Swanson, Vice President of Strategy & Programs at the Joyce Foundation, joined thought leaders from the Center for American Progress, the Education Trust, Chicago Public Schools, the University of Chicago, and the Chicago Fund for Education for a half-day symposium discussing Chicago's educational gains.
View video of the panel below:
- The New York Times / The Upshot: How Effective Is Your School District? A New Measure Shows Where Students Learn the Most
- Chicago Sun-Times: CPS student scores show equivalent of 6 years of learning in 5 years
- WBEZ: CPS Improving At Faster Pace Than Other Districts In Country
- The 74: What’s Driving Chicago’s School Turnaround Success? Lessons From 30 Years of Ed Reform
- The 74: What’s Driving Chicago’s Educational Success? A Panel of Experts Seeks Answers
- Education Post: Chicago Isn’t Atlanta—Our Student Learning Gains Are Real and Lead the Nation
- Education Post: Chicago’s Schools Are Succeeding Because We Care About School Quality
- The Education Trust: ExtraOrdinary Districts: Chicago Part 1 | Nowhere to Go But Up
- The Education Trust: ExtraOrdinary Districts: Episode 4 | Chicago: The Work of a Generation
- PBS: New Chicago schools chief faces challenges despite major strides
- Download Slides: Sean Reardon, Test Score Growth Among Chicago Public School Students, 2009-2014 (Presented November 2017)
- Download Slides: Ellen Allensworth, How Have Educational Outcomes in Chicago Public Schools Changed Over Time? (Presented November 2017)
- Download Slides: Paul Zavitkovsky, What' Driving Chicago's Educational Progress? (Presented November 2017)
- Download Report: Test Score Growth Among Chicago Public School Students, 2009-2014 (Stanford)
- Download Report: The Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students: 2016 (UChicago Consortium)
- Download Report: Upstate/Downstate: Changing Patterns of Achievement, Demographics and School Effectiveness in Illinois Public Schools (Center for Urban Education Leadership)
- Download Report: Progress and Promise: Chicago's National-Leading Educational Gains
About The Joyce Foundation
Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.