CHICAGO - Even after a tough school year that included the city's first teachers strike in 25 years and the district threatening to over 120 of its schools before finally progressing with their plan to shutter 50, Chicago Public Schools has hit a record high graduation rate.
CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Friday morning the district is on track for a 63 percent five-year graduation rate -- a two percentage point increase over last year's record-setting rate and a predicted 19 percentage point increase over 10 years ago, according to CPS records.
The district stated that attendance is also up: the district is on track for an attendance rate just under 93 percent this year, an increase over last year's 92.5 percent and the 2010-2011 year's rate of 91.7 percent, NBC Chicago reports. "That's more than 4,000 of the city's children attending school regularly than two years ago," mentioned Tanya Collier, an educator on the city's south side. "We are progressing slowly, but slow is better than never."
Byrd-Bennett credited a longer school day and a more "rigorous curriculum" among the factors contributing to the improvement, according to DNAinfo Chicago. She was quick to add in a statement, though, that more work remained.
"This graduation rate is a testament to our hard-working students, educators and administrators, but we know there is more to do," Byrd-Bennett said in a statement.
Emanuel stated similar comments in a brief interview, describing CPS's 2013 graduates as "shining examples of the promise of Chicago’s future" while also admitting "there is still more to do."
While CPS noted the projected graduation rate is its highest ever, it also clarified that the numbers date back to only 1999, when the district changed how it tracked graduation data, according to NBC Chicago.
And despite the improvement, CPS still trails the estimated national average graduation rate for incoming public school freshman of 78.2 percent, as of 2009-2010.
"Parents, students, educators, we all want miracles," Collier stated. "The reality is that for most of these kids, getting out of bed and making it to school is already progress."