Chicago charter schools increase student test scores and college readiness
October 21, 2013 – For the first time in Chicago history, this year the top 11 highest performing non-selective Chicago Public Schools high schools are charter schools. This year’s performance is up from nine schools on the list in both 2011 and 2012 and seven schools on the list in 2010. The Noble Network of Charter Schools led the pack with a total of nine schools in the top 10 this year. Chicago International Charter Schools – Northtown and Chicago Math and Science Academy tied for the 10th spot. This is the first time charter public schools accounted for all schools in the top ten rankings of non-selective enrollment high schools in the city.
All Illinois students are required to take the ACT and the composite score of 21 is widely used as the national benchmark to determine college readiness. Noble Network’s UIC College Prep campus’ score of 22 is the highest ever average at an open enrollment, non-selective CPS high school. All 11 charter schools in the top 10 non-selective enrollment high schoolssurpassed CPS’ district ACT average of 17.7, and four met or surpassed the national benchmark of 21. This year’s scores reflect the upward trend on the ACT for all students in non-selective enrollment schools, indicating that charter schools continue to push the bar higher for student achievement across the district. In short, Chicago public charter schools are proving what parents already know: when it comes to academic outcomes, charter public schools are changing lives.
“The rise in ACT scores is evidence of what we already know: all Chicago public school students can achieve academic success when given the necessary tools and guidance,” said Andrew Broy, President of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. “Charter schools ensure more students have access to the high-quality education they deserve. We applaud the dedication and daily sacrifices of the many charter school teachers, administrators and staff. It’s hard work. But because of their focus on academic growth and relentless efforts to improve student outcomes, more students are on the right path and prepared to succeed in college and beyond.”
While ACT scores have long been a mainstay in evaluating school and student performance, they are only one part of the story. We must broaden the debate on what it takes to be successful in college. Student growth, graduation rates, and college enrollment and persistence rates are critical metrics for understanding a school’s performance in preparing students for college and life. Student growth during high school is a particularly powerful predictor of future success – and proves that a student’s academic starting point does not define his or her potential.
Charter schools are equally impressive on this measure, holding 19 of the top 20 student growth scores among Chicago Public Schools open enrollment high schools. Among the top 11 highest performing charter high schools on the ACT, students averaged 5.7 points of growth from their 9th grade exam to their 11th grade ACT score, compared to a city average of 3.3 points of growth over that time period.
Overall, charter school students are 24 percent more likely than their peers in other non-selective schools to make expected gains from 9th grade to 11th grade exams. In fact, charter school students are just as likely as students in selective schools to make expected gains. Charter public school students are also 18 percent more likely to graduate from high school and 26 percent more likely to enroll in college than their peers.
Charter schools play an integral role in ensuring all students have access to the high-quality public education they deserve – no matter their financial, family, or academic background. Charter schools are free and open to any student who wishes to attend. In Chicago, charter schools serve 87 percent low-income and 92 percent minority students from historically underserved communities across the city.
For more information on how charter public schools are developing an effective pipeline to college for low-income, minority public school students, stay tuned for a new INCS policy brief set for release this fall.
The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS)seeks to improve education by establishing and supporting high-quality charter public schools that transform lives and communities. As the voice of Illinois charter public schools, INCS advocates for legislation on behalf of the charter sector, provides support to strengthen charter public schools, and influences education policy for the benefit of all public school students.