CPS takes wrongdoing very seriously, which is why we’re especially disappointed that the Chicago Tribune’s misleading story today ignored the actions we’ve taken in cases of wrongdoing.

Here are the missing facts that Chicago families need to know and that weren’t reported:

Last year, CPS took the important step of recalculating graduation rates because questions had been raised about a handful of schools improperly coding students who dropped out as transfers.

CPS took this step to ensure transparency and public trust in the extraordinary accomplishment of principals, teachers and students in improving the District’s graduation rate. Independent organizations such as the Chicago Consortium of School Research have repeatedly praised and confirmed the strong upward trajectory of CPS’ graduation rate.

In today’s story, the Tribune cited a report that asserts that miscoding dropouts as “homeschool transfers” could affect the District’s graduation rate.

A reasonable review of the data suggests that this is not the case. The Tribune had this data and didn’t publish it.

The truth is that one school in 2013-14 coded 169 students who left as “homeschooled.” They should have been counted as dropouts. So when this was discovered, the District recalculated its graduation rate and counted those students as dropouts, decreasing the announced graduation rate (a fact that Tribune readers wouldn’t know).

Without evidence, the Tribune went further than this incident and called into question the achievements of dozens of principals who have not only done nothing wrong, but who have created environments where students are doing better than ever.

Excluding these 169 students, a total of 294 students out of 112,000 exited the District to be homeschooled. In the absence of evidence of wrongdoing, it would be wrong and insulting for the District – and community – to assume that the children whose parents chose homeschool are dropouts.

However, if any subsequent information is found, the District will take it seriously and move forward with appropriate action – as it did initially.

For those who are interested in seeing the data, here is the information the Tribune didn’t print:  

  • The District has reviewed “homeschool” exits and found that:
    • All 169 “homeschool” exits for the school in question were treated as dropouts in the District’s graduation and dropout rates. The report did not note this information, nor did the Tribune story. The Tribune was aware of this fact.
    • A total of 463 “homeschool” exits were logged for CPS ninth through 12th graders in the 2013-14 school year. Of the total number, 37 percent of the District’s entire “homeschool” exit total came from the one school where the problems were found.
    • Among the other schools:
      • 136 high schools had no “homeschool” exits in any grade.  
      • 59 schools had between 1 and 10 “homeschool” exits for students in grades 9 through 12.
      • Four schools had more than 10 “homeschool” exits across all grades. In those schools, the “homeschool” exits made up between 6 and 10 percent of all exits out of the school in that year, or less than 2 percent of their total student population.  
    • In contrast, at the school where the wrongdoing was found, more than 50 percent of the students who exited were coded as “homeschool” exits, or 6 percent of the school’s entire population, far exceeding the numbers at other schools.  

Honesty and transparency are core values for this administration and we remain hopeful that families have access to full information about the actions CPS takes in instances of wrongdoing.