The Network for College Success, the UChicago Consortium on School Research, and the To&Through Project use a practice-driven data approach when working with educators in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). This paper lays out the lessons we have learned about how, when, why, and under what conditions we have seen the use of data support sustainable and remarkable improvement in the outcomes of Chicago’s youth. In addition, our work as partners to the school district has implications for advocates, policymakers, district and school leaders, and school support organizations, both locally and nationally, who wish to take the approach to data that we have seen work so well in Chicago.
In the past decade, CPS has seen tremendous improvement in the most critical indicators for student success. Overall, between 2006 and 2017, the district has seen a 28 percentage-point rise in the proportion of freshmen On-Track to graduate, with the most significant increases occurring among Black and Latino males. In addition, high school graduation rates have increased by 18 percentage points, with ACT scores improving simultaneously.
There is an important story to be told about the role that data played—and continues to play—in these improvements. This paper shares these lessons with local and national education stakeholders so they can develop the conditions that will support effective data use in schools and school systems.