Improving Student Attainment
Between 2007 and 2016, Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) high school graduation rate rose by almost a third from 57 percent to 74 percent. CPS also saw significant gains in its 4-year college enrollment rate, which increased from 33 percent in 2006 to 44 percent in 2015, and is now on par with the nation’s college enrollment rate. What did the city of Chicago do in the last decade to see such significant gains in its students’ educational attainment? One major contributing factor has been a research-practice partnership between the University of Chicago and CPS. With access to data on CPS students’ educational achievement and attainment, the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research has been able to conduct rigorous research and identify the forces and factors that contribute most to students’ high school and college success. At the same time, the University of Chicago Network for College Success has partnered with Chicago Public Schools to help school leaders translate research and data into improved practice. This year, the University of Chicago codified its model for change and has begun to share it with education leaders and policymakers across the country. Bill Gates also recently recognized the effectiveness of the partnership between the University of Chicago and CPS at the 2017 Council of the Great City Schools Fall Conference.
Why It Matters
Establishing models or structures for helping students make it to and through high school and college has arguably never been more important. Of the 11.6 million jobs that have been added in the post-Great Recession economy, 99 percent have gone to workers with at least some college education. However, while the vast majority of high school students aspire to earn a bachelor’s degree, less than one in three will succeed. In light of this, more school districts around the country are establishing partnerships with higher education institutions in an effort to conduct rigorous research and interrogate data that can inform school improvement strategies and, ultimately, students’ educational attainment. We expect to see more research-practice partnerships emerge and the pool of knowledge from existing research-practice partnerships expand as student attainment data becomes more accessible and as recently launched organizations like the National Network of Research-Practice Partnerships (NNERPP) create central infrastructures and resources for knowledge sharing that can contribute to better outcomes for all of our nation’s students.