CPS Graduation Rate Jumps 4% to Record High: Ninth Grade "On-Track" Focus Continues to Drive System-wide Improvements

August 26, 2014

AUGUST 26, 2014 – The city announced that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) posted a record high graduation rate of 69.4 percent, a 4 percent increase over the previous year and the largest two-year increase in the district's history. Mounting evidence shows that efforts to improve the academic performance of ninth-graders is driving large improvements in graduation rates. Released earlier in 2014, a study on 20 "early adopter/early mover" schools led by Melissa Roderick of the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research suggests that the dramatic improvement in the percentage of Chicago ninth-graders who are “On-Track” to graduate should continue to propel system-wide graduation rates in Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

Chicago Mayor Emanual and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced the graduation rate and other updates for the district in an oped for the Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago Public Schools also announced that the district-wide on-track rate reached 84.1 percent for last year's freshmen cohort, the highest measure on record.

The Consortium's findings, released at an April 24 press conference, garnered local press and nationwide attention, with editorials in the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, news coverage in outlets ranging from Education Week to Chicago’s FOX affiliate, and an op-ed from Tim Knowles appearing in the Tribune.

Other Key Findings:

  • Between 2007-08 and 2012-13, system-wide improvements in ninth-grade on-track rates were dramatic, sustained, and observed across a wide range of high schools and among critical subgroups—by race, by gender, and across achievement levels.
  • Improvements in on-track were accompanied by across-the-board improvements in grades.
  • Increasing ninth-grade on-track rates did not negatively affect high schools’ average ACT scores—despite the fact that many more students with weaker incoming skills made it to junior year to take the test.

On-Track To learn more about how on-track moved an entire system, visit