A memorable Chicago Tribune graphic illustrated the Consortium’s shocking report Credit: Chicago Tribune


On April 21, 2006, the Consortium on Chicago School Research released “From High School to the Future,” a report on its multi-year study of college completion rates for CPS graduates. Discouragingly, only 35 percent of CPS graduates enrolled in a four-year college within a year after graduating high school. The Consortium blamed low GPAs and ACT scores for CPS students’ lack of access to college and success once enrolled.

“On average, 20 percent of CPS students leave high school with the GPAs and ACT scores they will need to attend selective colleges, such as University of Illinois at Chicago and DePaul University. However, half of these well-prepared students come from only five high schools. Most high schools are simply not up to standards in producing graduates ready for college.”

Of course, enrollment in college did not guarantee completion. The report concluded that only 6% of CPS freshmen were likely to earn a four-year college degree by their mid-20s. (The report was updated in October 2006 to reflect an 8% degree attainment.) For African-American boys, the statistic was a grim 2%.

See Road to college paved with top grades, Catalyst May 12, 2006


CPS has made real strides in improving college completion rates. The latest figures indicate that 14% of CPS freshmen will complete college within the next 10 years. Improved high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates were the main drivers of the increase.

See Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students: a Focus on Four-Year College Degrees, the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, December 2014; More CPS grads are getting college diplomas, though racial gaps persist, Catalyst December 9, 2014.


Now that more CPS students are graduating high school, CPS needs to ensure that more graduate with GPAs of 3.0 or higher, which is a strong indicator of college success. Enrolling in colleges with track records of graduating students like those in CPS should be another priority.

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