From the Field

College Persistence, Graduation, and 9th Grade in Chicago

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There are various approaches to measuring the journey students make through the K-12 system, to college, and through college. The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research released three reports in October that focus on using data to track trends in students’ educational attainment in Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

Alex Seeskin, Jenny Nagaoka, and Shelby Mahaffie begin in middle and high School by examining how CPS students’ grades declined during the transition to high school. Their report titled Hidden Risk: Changes in GPA across the Transition to High School shows that on average, students with eighth-grade core GPAs higher than 3.5 had about one-half a point lower core grades in ninth grade (from an A/A- to a B+).

The report The Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students: 2017 follows by looking at the results beyond middle and high school CPS populations. Jenny Nagaoka and Alex Seeskin use the Bachelor’s Degree Attainment Index (DAI) to estimate how many of today’s ninth-graders will earn a bachelor’s degree within 10 years. Specifically, the 2017 Bachelor’s DAI for CPS is 19 percent, which is up from 11 percent in 2006. There have been increases in both high school graduation rates and the college enrollment rate. About 5,000 more students are enrolling directly in college today than in 2006.

In the final report, Practice Driven Data, Eliza Moeller, Alex Seeskin, and Jenny Nagaoka, explain the role data plays in uncovering trends in education, such as those described in the other two reports. They provide five lessons of Practice Driven Data: (1) Prepare by building capacity to facilitate hard conversations, (2) Focus on prioritizing research-based indicators, (3) Make meaning by developing shared ownership over the implications of research, (4) Strategize to ensure the use of the right data at the right time, and (5) Disrupt with the goal of identifying and stopping inequity.