By Joshua Dwyer -
Here’s a startling statistic: despite having only 11 percent of students performing at grade level in math and reading, Illinois’ lowest-performing high schools graduate more than 60 percent of their students within four years.
And only 6 percent of these students are college-ready according to the ACT.
All of this indicates that the state’s lowest-performing schools are pushing students through without giving them the knowledge and the skills necessary to be successful in a career or in college.
In Chicago Public Schools – where three-quarters of the state’s lowest-performing high schools are located – almost half of CPS students who end up graduating begin their senior year not doing well enough academically to attend a four-year college. In the fall after graduation, the most common outcome for these students was to be neither working nor in school.
Those who make it into college often have to take remedial classes. According to the City Colleges of Chicago, in the fall 2009 semester, of the more than 2,800 CPS high school graduates attending CCC, 71 percent needed remedial reading, 81 percent needed remedial English and 94 percent needed remedial math.
Overall, 40 percent of this group took two remedial courses, an additional 21 percent took three remedial courses and 10 percent took four remedial courses.
Pushing students through school knowing full well that they are ill-equipped for a career or college is irresponsible – period.
The administrators, principals and teachers signing these students’ high school diplomas should be asked to justify their actions.
Students attending the state’s lowest-performing schools need academic and emotional support, not the fake support of people looking to get them out the door as soon as possible.
If they can’t find that in the school they are in, they should be allowed to look for it in the school of their choice, whether it is public, charter or private.
By Joshua Dwyer, Director of Education Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute