So after waves and waves of reform, you thought Chicago public elementary schools had made tremendous progress in the last 20 years?
Despite millions of dollars in fixes and programs, Chicago’s elementary grade reading scores have barely budged over the last two decades, a new report by the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research has found.
Math scores improved only “incrementally” in those grades, and racial gaps in both subjects increased, with African American students falling the most behind other groups, especially in reading — an area pushed heavily under former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
But the good news in a unique study called “Trends in Chicago’s Schools Across Three Eras of Reform: Summary of Key Findings” is that Chicago Public Schools made “dramatic improvement” in its high school graduation rate over almost two decades. Less than half of CPS freshmen graduated by age 19 in 1990, compared to about two thirds today, the study said.
In 20 years of near-constant reform efforts, Chicago’s elementary school students have made few gains, high school students have advanced, and the achievement gap between poor and rich areas has widened, a major University of Chicago study found, contradicting impressions created by years of Chicago Public Schools testing data.
The report examined performance across three eras of reform over the last two decades — a span including the Argie Johnson, Paul Vallas and Arne Duncan regimes. Researchers for the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research found that most publicly available data measuring the success of public schools in Chicago did not provide an accurate picture of progress.
One of the most striking findings is that elementary school scores in general remained mostly stagnant, contrary to visible improvement on state exams reported by the Illinois State Board of Education. The consortium study used a complex statistical analysis of data from each state-administered test over the last 20 years, controlling for changes in the test’s content and how it was scored, said Stuart Luppescu, a lead consortium researcher.