Key Questions

1. Has progress been made at Chicago Public Schools (CPS)?


This report finds that Chicago Public Schools has experienced tremendous growth in graduation rates over the past 20 years, but learning gains have been modest. The report tracks elementary and high school test scores and graduation rates in Chicago since 1988, when U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett proclaimed the city’s public schools to be the worst in the nation. Key findings from the report include: 

  • Graduation rates in Chicago have improved dramatically, and high school test scores have risen; more students are graduating without a decline in average academic performance.
  • Math scores have improved incrementally in the elementary/middle grades, while elementary/middle grade reading scores have remained fairly flat for two decades.
  • Racial gaps in achievement have steadily increased, with White and Asian students making more progress than Latino students, and Black students falling behind all other groups.
  • Despite progress, the vast majority of CPS students have academic achievement levels that are far below where they need to be to graduate ready for college.