Tuesday, September 06, 2016

CPS Graduation Rates Up. Still 26.5% Not Graduating

Over the weekend I read this Chicago Tribune article, showing how Chicago Public Schools graduation rates have risen steadily for past 5 years, up to 73.5%.  Nice to see the improvement, but this means over one-fourth of students (26.5%) are still not graduating.

Furthermore, graduation rates for African-American students are still far too low. Girls graduate at a 67% rate and boys at a 57% rate.

The graduation rate for Hispanic students was 78%, with girls graduating at an 84% rate and boys at a 72% rate.

The overall rate for white, non-Hispanic students was 81 percent, with 87 percent for girls and 76 percent for boys.

 I'd like to see this data mapped, showing graduation rates on a school-by-school basis, with overlays showing the influence of poverty and/or English as Second Language. This map shows ACT scores on a school-by-school basis.

I'd also like to see parallel reports showing what percent of white and affluent students of all races are opting out of Chicago Public Schools and attending private schools. I'd expect graduation rates to be much higher for these students. Such information would further highlight the inequality of opportunity for different students in Chicago. 

I was motivated to write this by an article I saw earlier today, titled "What it Takes: Two high-poverty schools chase better graduation rates."

One of these schools was in the Overtown area of Miami (Dade County). As I read the story I recalled a "Cost of Poverty" report I had received in the mid 1990s (see pdf) showing the high cost of poverty in the Overtown area. 

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to try to help mentor-rich non-school youth programs grow in high poverty areas, as part of a strategy to help kids come to school better prepared to learn and leave school with a broader network helping them into jobs. 

It's never been fully funded, or consistently funded for multiple years, so it's impossible to say how much higher the graduation rates might  be today if Chicago had supported the T/MC strategy for 25 consecutive years.  I wonder what we'll be reading in 2041?

Cost of poverty reports show how much an entire metropolitan community pays for not providing an adequate support system to help kids in high-poverty areas move successfully through school.  It's not just lost earning-power, hope and opportunity for young people, but a loss of opportunity for the entire Chicago region.

We can't be satisfied with the current performance of Chicago Public Schools. However, we must be even more dis-satisfied with how poorly we've been able to mobilize attention, resources and concern from the broader community over the past 25 years to solve problems that were acute even then.

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