Thirty years after being labeled the worst school district in the nation and after two decades of fiscal crisis, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) welcomed more than 381,000 students back to class last month as a leader among the nation’s urban school districts. If Education Secretary William Bennett intended to motivate the city with his harsh critique in 1987, mission accomplished.
A recent spate of independent studies documents substantial gains made by Chicago students:
These studies tell us the what. But we need to understand the why—the drivers of school improvement in Chicago that will help sustain progress and perhaps suggest paths for other large cities.