In late 2016, we began a comprehensive review of school quality and performance data of all Chicago Public Schools with the aim of both highlighting areas where the district has improved in recent years and calling on all stakeholders and Chicago residents to take renewed action to improve quality and equity within Chicago Public Schools.

Our report – Who is sitting in those seats? –compares student and school performance information from 2011 to 2017. There are over 371,000 students in Chicago Public Schools. Although there are significantly fewer low-quality schools now than in 2011, there are still many underperforming schools that serve nearly 50,000 students.

When we ask, “Who is sitting in those seats?,” we find that far too many “failing seats” are located in communities with high poverty concentration – and large numbers of “failing seats” are disproportionately provided to African American children in CPS. In fact:

  • One in four Black students is enrolled in a school with a “failing seat,” compared to two in twenty-five Latine students, and just two in one hundred White students.
  • CPS’s nearly 50,000 “failing seats” are highly concentrated in predominantly Black and Latine communities, with four communities – Austin, Englewood, Near West Side, and West Englewood – having 25% of Chicago’s failing schools.

We also call upon CPS and all partners to consider the following actions to ensure that every child in Chicago is provided with a high-quality education:

  1. Develop a regional analysis of enrollment and quality seats
  2. Ensure a clear and equitable accountability policy that leverages SQRP
  3. Develop accessible guidelines and conditions to address school performance
  4. Involve the community in school actions
  5. Improve access and transparency to schools and programs
  6. Provide families with greater transparency on school quality
Read the Report