Chicago Public Schools is touting a record-high graduation rate for the Class of 2021, driven by increases among the district’s four largest racial demographics, along with a record-low dropout rate during a school year marked by a pandemic and remote learning.
CPS officials on Thursday announced a five-year graduation rate of 83.8% for its high school students, while the district simultaneously recorded its lowest-ever one-year dropout rate of 3.8%.
“I have no doubt that we will be the best district in the country because of the momentum we are seeing and students, it is because of you,” CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said during a ceremony Thursday at Amundsen High School. “This is just the beginning. Our schools are going to continue to get stronger.”
Per the district, the five-year grad rate has increased nearly 27% over the past decade. The four-year graduation has seen similar gains, increasing 26% up to 80.2% over that same time period, though this marks a slight decrease of about a half percentage point over last year’s figures.
— Chicago Public Schools (@ChiPubSchools) October 21, 2021
Those increases come amid what Martinez called “one of the most difficult years we’ve ever had,” with COVID-19 shutting down school buildings and forcing students into remote learning.
According to CPS, students across all major demographics — Latino, Black, white, and Asian — each saw higher graduation rates in 2021 compared to a year ago. The largest increase was among Black students, which included a 2.1% increase for Black boys and a 1.8% increase for Black girls.
While the district said there were increases across those groups, CPS did not immediately provide the actual graduation rates for each demographic.
While CPS has its highest graduation rate on record, due to declining enrollment, the district said a slightly smaller number of students actually earned their diploma in 2021, with 20,722 graduates this year compared to last year’s 21,069.