5 Data Insights on CPS Graduates’ College Success to Watch in 2022

The To&Through Project
5 min readFeb 4, 2022

WHAT CURRENT METRICS SAY ABOUT FUTURE ATTAINMENT

In the To&Through Project and UChicago Consortium’s recent report, we found that if the most recent available rates of attainment for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students were to hold constant over the next decade, only 27 out of every 100 current CPS ninth graders would complete a college credential within 10 years (by the time they are about 25 years old).

This number, also called the Post-secondary Attainment Index (PAI), does not have to be true. Below are five Data Insights we’re watching in 2022 to understand whether the city is making meaningful progress towards creating the systems needed to ensure that the current PAI for CPS does not become reality.

To&Through Project Data Insights

OPPORTUNITY GAPS REMAIN WIDE

Immediate college enrollment rates for CPS high school graduates of all race/ethnicity groups declined at the onset of the pandemic in 2020, but Latinx graduates remained more likely to immediately enroll in college than a decade prior, while Black graduates were less likely to immediately enroll in college in 2020 than in 2010.

Soon, immediate college enrollment data for 2021 CPS graduates — most of whom spent their senior year learning almost entirely remotely — will be available. In the meantime, you can view immediate college enrollment trend lines disaggregated by race/ethnicity and gender on our To&Through Milestones Tool.

To&Through Project Data Insights

COMPLETION RATE HELD STEADY AT THE PANDEMIC’S ONSET

Like the class prior, 46% of 2014 CPS graduates who immediately enrolled in college had completed a bachelor’s degree six years later, by 2020. That the college completion rate did not decline at the onset of the pandemic in 2020 may provide reason for very cautious optimism.

College completion rates for CPS graduates have not fluctuated as greatly as immediate college enrollment rates over the past decade, and so we will be closely watching completion data for immediate college enrollees from the CPS class of 2015 to determine whether recent gains will hold during the second year of the pandemic. In the meantime, disaggregate college completion data over time by race/ethnicity, gender, and more on the To&Through Milestones Tool.

To&Through Project Data Insights

WHERE CPS STUDENTS LIVE SHAPES THEIR LIKELIHOOD OF OBTAINING A COLLEGE CREDENTIAL

Our recent analysis found that while students’ likelihood of graduating from high school and going on to college was relatively similar regardless of what community area they lived in, that was not true for college completion. This pattern suggests that in order for colleges to ensure their students graduate, they need to understand the communities where students come from, and their effects on how students engage in and experience college life.

You can explore CPS students’ rates of attainment by the community area in which they live using the To&Through Community Milestones Tool. Check out the user guide for recommended reflection questions.

To&Through Project Data Insights

THREE-YEAR COMPLETION RATE IMPROVED FOR STUDENTS WHO IMMEDIATELY ENROLLED IN TWO-YEAR COLLEGES

CPS graduates from the classes of 2015 and 2016 who immediately enrolled in a two-year college were 4 to 5 percentage points more likely to complete a college credential (e.g., an associate degree or certificate) within three years compared to those from the class prior.

This past October, CPS and the City Colleges of Chicago released the first Chicago Roadmap Progress Report, which summarizes their joint equity strategies during the first year of the project. We will be watching to see how these initiatives — and several other community colleges’ equity plansaffect completion rates for immediate two-year college enrollees in forthcoming data, which will reflect the pandemic’s impact.

To&Through Project Data Insights

MORE STUDENTS ARE COMPLETING DEGREES, BUT MORE ARE ALSO LEAVING WITH DEBT AND NO CREDENTIAL

Thanks to rising college enrollment rates, over 700 more students from the CPS graduating class of 2014 who immediately enrolled in college completed a degree or certificate within six years, compared to the class of 2007. However, stagnant completion rates also meant that over 2,000 more immediate enrollees from the CPS class of 2014 left college without a credential, compared to the class of 2007.

We have found that CPS graduates’ paths through college look more like a maze than a straight path, and how we support students in navigating these winding postsecondary journeys has become more important than ever given the pandemic’s disruption. Read five CPS graduates’ stories of navigating the postsecondary maze, and their pushes for the field.

The To&Through Project’s Data Insights are updated annually with our most salient research findings and the most up-to-date data on CPS students’ progress to and through high school and college.

You can dig further into the data using the To&Through Milestones Tool, which enables users to explore CPS student attainment through the lens of individual high schools or for each of Chicago’s 77 community areas. Users can disaggregate the data by students’ race/ethnicity, gender, and more.

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The To&Through Project

The To&Through Project aims to increase high school & post-secondary completion for under-resourced students of color in Chicago & around the country.