Chicago’s graduation rate improved under the administration of Arne Duncan, but high school test scores did not. Elementary school test scores soared, but much of the gain was due to changes in testing procedures.

Chicago’s scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress rose, but for the most part, Chicago’s standing among the 11 urban districts participating in a national comparison did not. The NAEP rankings below are for low-income students in the districts.

   2001  2008
% meeting state standards, elementary students 38  65
% meeting state standards, high school students 29  28
 ACT composite score (out of 36) 16.5 (2002)  17.7
 Graduation rate, state calculation 68  69
 Graduation rate, Consortium calculation 47  55
 Attendance rate 91.5  89.9
 National Assessment of Educational Progress 2003 2007
 4th-grade reading 8th of 10 9th of 11
 4th-grade math4th-grade math 8th (tied) 8th (tied)
 8th-grade reading 3rd of 10 2nd of 11
 8th-grade math 6th (tied) 7th

Notes:  The major increase in elementary test scores came with a change in testing procedures, muddying year-to-year comparisons.

The graduation rate calculated by the Consortium on Chicago School Research is more accurate than that calculated by the Illinois State Board of Education. The Consortium tracks individual students; the state uses a formula to come up with an estimate. 

We cite Chicago’s 2002 ACT score because that was the first year that all Illinois juniors were required to take the ACT as part of the state testing regimen. Previously, the ACT was optional. The state reports ACT scores only of students who graduate.

Source: Illinois State Board of Education Report Card; NAEP Data Explorer; Consortium on Chicago School Research.

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