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American Graduate Special

Chicago’s high school dropout rate – about 35 percent – is at the heart of the city’s problems with poverty, violence and unemployment. We delve deeper on a special episode of Chicago Tonight with a live studio audience at 7:00 pm. Watch a recap of our 90-minute live online chat below.

This program is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Show Breakdown:

The Faces Behind Chicago’s High School Dropout Crisis
With a high school dropout rate around 35 percent, Chicago is a city full of out-of-school teenagers. Educators, activists, reformers, and district officials have competing ideas on how to reverse this trend. Yet students’ perspectives are often missing from the conversation on dropout prevention. We talk with young people – two who left CPS without a high school diploma, and one who decided to stay in school – about their ideas to change the system.

Truancy: Chicago’s Missing Student Problem
Students who are truant in their K-8 years are much more likely to drop out of high school later down the road. Elizabeth Brackett reports on one elementary school’s hands-on approach to combat the truancy crisis.

Educators on the Challenge of Teaching At-Risk Kids
We talk with the educators who try to keep kids from falling off the grid, one student and one day at a time.

OneGoal Sets High Bar for Low-Income Students
How do you narrow the college achievement gap between low- and high-income students? A new program in Chicago schools is trying a new strategy: teaching character.

Big Picture: Ways to Unravel Chicago’s High School Dropout Epidemic
Communities across Chicago are concerned with the city’s alarming high school dropout rate. But what would a comprehensive, district-wide dropout prevention campaign actually look like? And is CPS on the right path to unraveling this problem? We evaluate the big picture with University of Chicago researcher Elaine Allensworth and alternative schools leader Jack Wuest.

Web Extra: Extended Conversation on Chicago’s Dropout Crisis
Is Chicago on the right path in fighting its chronic high school dropout problem? Our panelists – young people, educators at challenging schools, researchers and thought leaders – answer candid questions from members of our studio audience and viewers at home in a 30-minute web-exclusive conversation.

What are your thoughts on Chicago's high school dropout crisis? Post your comments below or sound off on our discussion board!