Chicago Data Stories: Dr. Heidi A. Truax
Here at the To&Through Project, we work to make data accessible with an aim to inspire action. As a result, we’ve often had the honor of being privy to our colleagues’ personal reflections on the data we share, and their varying perspectives shape the way we think about this work.
Below, we share Dr. Heidi A. Truax’s reflections on one of our Data Insights — which summarize years of research from the UChicago Consortium and To&Through Project — and her pushes for thinking about how students’ voices can inform our collective work to improve the system.
This Data Insight is a radical representation of the mutually beneficial relationship between practice and research. Prior to these findings, school counselors, college and career coaches, teachers, and administrators could have told you (with compelling examples) that GPA is a more reliable (and equitable) indicator of student success than any standardized test score. I would wager, it is such claims that led to this research question.
In turn, this research has empowered both school practitioners and policy makers to justify postsecondary advising shifts and legislation that emboldens student GPA as a primary metric for access and enrollment. For example, the Developmental Education Reform Act, a bill passed last year in Illinois, requires community colleges to consider metrics beyond students’ standardized test scores when making decisions about their placement into college-level coursework—effectively enabling GPA to be used as the sole criteria for placement.
In the coming years I am excited to see this praxis interchange continue to evolve and benefit students as the To&Through Project seeks out more qualitative research. I hope to see not only another five years of alumni success based on key metrics but also to hear from Chicago Public Schools’ college-going alumni about what they believe best prepared them for college-level coursework as well as what role they think a sense of belonging and other “fit” criteria have played in their persistence.
— Dr. Heidi A. Truax, Executive Director of CPS OSCPA