10 Chicago High Schools Growing and Glowing in Graduation rate
Spring is a time of change. Chicago public school (CPS) high school students are preparing for standardized testing, prom, and planning their postsecondary endeavors. For the To&Through Project, spring is a time to celebrate high school graduation, especially for high school students in Chicago.
In 2008, the graduation rate for CPS high school seniors was 62%. Before then, the rate was much lower, reaching below 50%. Compared to 15 years ago, CPS has seen a 20 percentage point increase in 4-year high school completion.
In this article, we highlight 10 CPS high schools that have shown exceptional growth in continuing the upward trend of 4-year graduation between the years of 2008 and 2021. These schools come from each part of the city, representing neighborhood, selective enrollment, charter, and citywide school types.
NICHOLAS SENN HIGH SCHOOL
A neighborhood high school with various academic and extracurricular programs, Senn High School has shown strong growth in their graduation rate from 2008 to 2021. Senn has seen a 52 percentage point increase. Since the 2010s, the school has worked hard to provide students with their IB curriculum and their fine/performance arts magnet program, Senn Arts. Senn emphasizes the commitment to “develop motivated, creative, and critical thinkers who are actively responsible globally minded citizens.” Located on the city’s far north side in the Edgewater neighborhood, the more than 1,500 student body is diverse and takes pride in their international day celebrations. As of 2021, their graduate rate was at 87%.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT HIGH SCHOOL
Located in the Albany Park neighborhood on the city’s far north side, Roosevelt is a neighborhood high school with a student body of more than 1,100. The population is majority Latinx, but the school “supports ALL students academically and socially-emotionally for post-secondary success.” Roosevelt’s graduation rate has steadily increased. Between 2008 to 2021, they saw a 29 percentage point increase in the percentage of students graduating in 4 years, with a graduation rate of 81% in 2021. Roosevelt strives to create a community that sustains “systems and structures to foster a culture of continuous learning.”
CARL SCHURZ HIGH SCHOOL
Located in the Irving Park neighborhood on the northwest side of the city, Carl Schurz High School is a neighborhood school that offers a wide variety of programs. Schurz “provides a variety of supportive academic programs that will incorporate varied instructional approaches.” Programs such as IB, Dual language, and JROTC are offered to students. The school has seen a 27 percentage point increase in their graduation rate since 2008, with a 2021 rate of 79%.
JOHN F. KENNEDY HIGH SCHOOL
This IB World School “challenges all students to become critical thinkers in an increasingly connected global society.” Located on the southwest side in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood, Kennedy aims to “develop students into productive, knowledgeable, active and reflective lifelong learners who positively impact their community, country and world.” Kennedy has also seen a steadily increasing graduate rate. In 2021, the school had a graduation rate of 81%, a 27 percentage point increase from 2008.
HYDE PARK ACADEMY
A school known for its rich history serving the Woodlawn community since 1863, Hyde Park’s legacy in CPS includes various academic achievements and many teaching awards. Since 2004, the school has offered an IB program that includes a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. Aside from IB, the school also offers AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and SEL (Social & Emotional Learning) programs. Hyde Park has slowly been increasing their graduate rate, leading to a 10 percentage point increase between the years 2008 and 2021, with a 2021 rate of 78%.
PERCY L. JULIAN HIGH SCHOOL
Julian High School, located in the far southwest side Washington Heights community, “provides arts-integrated school built on justice, joy, and anti-racism.” The student body is predominantly African American. The school works to ensure that all students graduate “economically and intellectually equipped to be collaborative leaders, creative and critical thinkers, and agents of change.” Julian also supports community efforts in neighboring Mount Vernon, West Pullman, Morgan Park, and parts of Roseland. From 2008 to 2021, Julian saw a 12 percentage point increase in seniors graduating in 4 years. As of 2021, the graduation rate was at 78%.
DOUGLASS HIGH SCHOOL
Known as the ‘Jewel of the Westside’ in the city’s Austin neighborhood, Frederick Douglass Academy High School is a neighborhood school that works to “foster a safe and disciplined learning environment in an effort to prepare our students to become competitive lifelong learners.” This correlates with their school vision “Where every student, Everyday, can experience success.” In 2008, the average 4-year graduation rate was at 50%. However, in the past 4 years they have shown great improvement. The class of 2021 has reached the district’s average of 82%.
CICS NORTHTOWN ACADEMY
CICS Northtown Academy is a public charter high school located in the North Park neighborhood on the far north side of the city. Their unique community offers “a welcoming, deeply engaging, productive educational experience for all students. Northtown models “harnessing the richness of the varying cultures, languages, religions, and perspectives represented by students and staff.” Northtown has always achieved a high graduate rate. As of 2021, the school reached a 4-year graduation rate of 97%.
Robert Lindblom Math and Science Academy is a selective enrollment high school on the city’s south side in West Englewood. The school strives for an “inclusive, challenging, and supportive community that empowers students to become compassionate leaders who understand,engage, and impact the world.” The school provides every student with a demanding college preparatory curriculum of mainly honors and AP courses. Enrichment and extracurriculars are also a huge part of their curriculum as Northwestern University and Baxter International hold a deep partnership with Lindblom to provide students with real-world applications/projects. Lindblom has always achieved a high graduate rate, and as of 2021, they were at 95%.
UChicago Woodlawn is a public charter high school on the city’s south side. The school’s goal is “to prepare 100% of students for college acceptance and graduation.” Partnerships with the University of Chicago and the Academy Group, to name a few, help to “provide a range of rigorous academic and robust enrichment experiences for our students.” Since 2019 their graduation rate has risen considerably from 77% to 97%.
ABOUT THE TO&THROUGH MILESTONES TOOL
The To&Through High School Milestones Tool enables the public to explore CPS data on students’ attainment rates of key milestones — including Freshman OnTrack, high school graduation, college enrollment, college persistence, and college completion — by high school.
Suleyman Rahameto, a research analyst with the To&through project and produced this article.