THE LOOP — Chicago Public Schools claimed a record-high attendance rate for the last school year on Tuesday as it geared up for classes to resume after Labor Day.
According to CPS, Chicago students compiled a 93.4 percent attendance rate for the school year that ended last spring. That ticked up slightly from 93.2 percent the previous year, as the district claimed annual gains over the 91.7 percent posted in the 2010-2011 school year before Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office.
"This year and every year, the City of Chicago comes together to remind students and families in every neighborhood of the importance of being in school prepared for learning on Day One, and every school day after that,” Emanuel said in a statement. "Chicago’s students are making monumental progress in the classroom — with record-setting gains in math and reading, and more students graduating college-ready than ever before. To continue this progress, our goal this year is that every student arrives prepared for success from Day One."
The district claimed the 93.4 percent attendance rate as a record high, attributing it to several changes in policy aimed at curbing chronic truancy.
CPS data has been called into question before; last year it was caught inflating graduation rates. The district acknowledged its graduation rates "were skewed due to improper coding of student transfers." The district was forced to bump its graduation rate from 69.4 percent to 66.3 percent after reports by the Better Government Association and WBEZ radio.
Attendance rates, however, would seem to be more clear-cut, and CPS issued a release laying out its math: "CPS calculates attendance rates based on total school days enrolled compared with total school days attended. In 2015-16, CPS students attended 60,144,603 days out of 64,367,292 total membership days, a rate of 93.4 percent. In 2014-15, CPS students attended 61,087,158 days out of 65,526,126 total membership days, a rate of 93.2 percent. In 2013-14, CPS students attended 61,474,474.5 days out of 66,004,078 total membership, a rate of 93.1 percent. This is the standard used by school districts across the country to calculate average student attendance rates."
"As a former principal, I can say from experience that when students and their families prioritize school attendance, it translates directly into improved student achievement, and the research clearly shows that the more you come to school, the better you do,” said Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson. "The district’s efforts and focus on attendance are clearly paying off, and our job as a district is to continue to help students remain in the classroom and remove barriers to regular attendance so that our students can continue to build on their academic success."
CPS pointed out that attendance is not only beneficial to academics, but it also earns the district more funding with state formulas based on enrollment and attendance.
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