Graduation and Dropout Trends in Chicago: A Look at Cohorts of Students from 1991 to 2004

January, 2005
Elaine Allensworth
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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.

These following links are to the data behind the figures and tables in this report. All of the files are in Excel format. Detailed explanations of how to interpret the data are provided in the report.

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

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