Chicago, IL

Chicago Public Schools Reports 1.2K Enrollment Increase, Launches 5-Yr Plan Amid Community Concerns

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Chicago Public Schools announce first enrollment increase seen in a dozen years, with 1,185 more students reported attending this school year

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) recently reported its first enrollment increase in over a decade, with 1,185 more students joining the district this school year. This development was announced during the first in a series of community meetings where CPS outlined its efforts to improve school facilities, achievement, and address disparities, particularly among Black students.

CPS CEO Pedro Martinez highlighted improvements in elementary students' test scores in reading and math, some of which have returned to pre-pandemic 2019 levels. Notably, scores for Black students in kindergarten through second grade on i-Ready tests increased significantly, reflecting a sixfold improvement.

However, community members expressed concerns during the meeting. They raised issues such as opportunity gaps for Black students and the impact of the loss of bus transportation for thousands of school children. Some community organizers urged CPS to create a dedicated committee, similar to the Special Education Advisory Committee, to address Black student success specifically.

As part of its five-year strategic plan, CPS announced the formation of an advisory team responsible for developing a Black Student Success plan. While CPS officials emphasized their commitment to addressing these concerns, some community members felt that folding this initiative into a broader plan wasn't sufficient.

Board member Elizabeth Todd-Breland acknowledged previous failures in addressing inequities faced by Black students and urged collaboration between the community and CPS to create a comprehensive Black Student Success plan, to be voted upon later this year.

CPS plans to engage with the community in a series of events from October to May to create a five-year roadmap for reforms and improvements from 2025 to 2030. A draft of the plan is expected to be released in June 2023.

Additionally, CPS reported a slight reversal of enrollment trends, attributing it to expanded prekindergarten offerings and an influx of newcomer students from the southern border. The district noted increased enrollment among English learners, particularly Spanish speakers, and students whose home languages include Russian, Ukrainian, and Arabic.

While Black student enrollment declined by less than 2%, it was at a much lower rate compared to previous years. Latino and Asian student enrollment increased slightly, and other demographic groups remained stable.

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