Citywide Education Progress Reports

CHICAGO: Chicago Students’ Dramatic Grains Analyzed by Researchers

Research led by Stanford Professor Sean Reardon and released in late 2017 found that Chicago students have been making some of the most dramatic gains in the country. Based on state test data of district and charter students from 2009 to 2014:

  • Chicago students’ performance grew faster than 96% of ALL school districts in the United States.
  • Chicago has the highest growth rate between 3rd and 8th grades among the 100 largest districts.
  • Each new CPS class outperforms the prior class and improves at a rate much higher than the national average.

Compared to the national average, “that’s like an extra year of schooling squeezed in somehow between 3rd and 8th grade” said Reardon(Chicago Sun-Times, Nov. 2, 2017).

The system has a commitment to data and research: the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research tracks student performance in great detail and is seeing similar trends. Director Elaine Allensworth says the performance could result from a number of factors, including serious use of the Common Core, a commitment to school autonomy along with a willingness to close bad schools, strong charter management organizations, and district network leaders (principal supervisors) that have learned to work for schools rather than impose their own mandates.

View Chicago’s citywide education progress report.

The Center on Reinventing Public Education is a research and policy analysis center at the University of Washington Bothell developing systemwide solutions for K–12 public education. Questions? Email