Chicago Public Schools announced Saturday that more than 60 percent of their 2007-2008 freshmen graduated last year, calling it a history-making record.

 The current administration has only been in place for a year and therefore can take no credit for the increase in graduation rates. However, CPS spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler says the news can provide “great momentum going into next year.”

 CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, in a press release, gave the credit to the staff that was in place before he took the helm.

“This increase in our graduation rate tells a powerful story about CPS and the contributions of our hard working teachers and principals,” Brizard says.

But Brizard reiterated the point that too few CPS students are “college and career ready.” Since Brizard arrived last year, his administration has emphasized that past achievement standards were too low. Given new, more rigorous standards, elementary school students would likely do much worse.

However, increases in ACT scores have been as a true measure of progress, according to the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research.

The graduation rate has been inching up over the past decade. In 2000, less than half—about 47 percent—of students graduated. Last year, five-year cohort graduation rate was at 58 percent.

CPS did not release school-by-school information so it is unclear if any particular type of school drove the increase. District officials pointed to two schools as having the largest increases: Phoenix Military Academy, a small, relatively new school on the West Side, and Roosevelt High School, a large neighborhood school on the North Side.

Roosevelt went from having below average graduation rates in 2005 to now meeting the district average.


Sarah is the deputy editor of Catalyst Chicago.

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