Study: No Real Progress In Chicago Grade School Reading In 20 Years

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

So after waves and waves of reform, you thought Chicago public elementary schools had made tremendous progress in the last 20 years?

Think again.

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.

Plus, during the later half of that time period, the average CPS ACT score rose from 16.2 in 2001 to 17.2 in 2009, controlling for changes in student demographics, the study found.

While high schools have long been considered the system’s Achilles heel, the study indicates CPS high schools “managed to accomplish a miracle,” said Barbara Radner, director of DePaul University’s Center for Urban Education. Although each year of arriving freshmen showed up unprepared and not much more capable than the batch before them, high schools held on to an increasing number of them, and prodded them into improved ACT scores, Radner said.

To read this article in its entirety visit the Chicago Sun-Times.

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