CHICAGO, Sept. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute (UEI) and Network for College Success launched the To&Through Campaign and a first-of-its-kind, publically available online data tool designed to help give every Chicago Public Schools (CPS) student who wants to earn a college degree the opportunity and support to achieve their goal.
Across America, the vast majority of high school students aspire to earn a bachelor's degree, yet only 22 percent are projected to earn a bachelor's degree within 10 years of finishing high school. In Chicago, 76 percent of CPS freshmen aspire to earn a bachelor's degree, but only 18 percent are projected to do so within 10 years of starting high school. Addressing these immense gaps is the mission of The To&Through Campaign—a partnership between the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute and Network for College Success to provide all stakeholders in education with actionable research, data, and resources designed to move more students to and through high school and college.
In December of 2014, To&Through brought together the Chicago education community to mark the district's attainment on key milestones, including rising high school and college graduation rates. On September 20, the To&Through Campaign launch event will mark the beginning of an effort to make To&Through Project research, data, and resources accessible to all in a position to help propel more youth to and through high school and college, from school leaders and partners, to community leaders and families.
"In Chicago we have clearly seen that when good, actionable evidence is in the hands of practitioners, parents, and policymakers we can dramatically improve outcomes for young people," said UEI Chairman Tim Knowles. "The launch of the To&Through campaign makes essential data and tools available to all education stakeholders in Chicago—and creates a model for the nation—as we aim to propel thousands more students to and through college."
Helping more students earn college degrees isn't just an individual issue; it's a social imperative. Research continues to show people who finish college are healthier, wealthier, and happier: less likely to commit crimes, face financial hardship, or suffer from illness, and more likely to volunteer, vote, engage in their communities, and even live longer.
Equal Access to Education Attainment Data
Historically, data on the milestones that matter most for students' high school and college success has not been widely accessible or centralized. The To&Through online tool will make data on the milestones that research shows matter most for students' high school and college success—Freshman On Track, high school graduation, college enrollment, college persistence, and college graduation—available to a broad range of education stakeholders in one, online hub for the first time.
Aggregating information spanning over more than a decade, the To&Through online tool also links CPS high schools to college outcomes for the first time, providing the full picture of CPS students' educational progress, from the middle grades through college graduation.
District and school leaders, school partners, families, and policymakers will be able to use the tool to:
- Examine patterns of educational attainment among different student subgroups, including students of different races, genders, socioeconomic backgrounds, and academic achievement records
- See how individual high schools are doing on a particular milestone along the path to and through college, and how different schools compare to similar schools as well as the district as a whole
- See what colleges and universities students from CPS schools are choosing, and what the graduation rates of those institutions are
The tool will live on To&Through's new website—a repository for a broad range of free resources school leaders, school partners, and families can use to help more students realize their college aspirations, including: "To&Through In Action" profiles, which highlight strategies schools are using to improve high school and college attainment; infographics that illuminate key research findings; "mythbusters" that debunk common misconceptions about what matters most for high school and college success; and a Freshman On Track toolkit that equips schools with ample resources to better support students through their critical first year of high school.
Ongoing training on how to use research and data to improve student outcomes is another key To&Through pillar. The University of Chicago's Network for College Success works with Chicago Public Schools to provide quarterly trainings for every network chief, high school principal, and high school leadership team on how to use data on key student attainment milestones to identify where students struggle, and develop strategies for moving more students to and through high school and college.
A model that brings it all together
Building on a close collaboration with CPS and other education stakeholders, the To&Through project provides a model for districts around the country aiming to move more students to and through high school and college. It provides a broad range of education stakeholders with research, data, and training to accelerate progress in our schools.
For example, Chicago's George Washington High School began the 2012-13 school year with a college enrollment rate well below the CPS average, so set out to establish a stronger college-going culture. Working with the Network for College Success, the school's leadership created a post-secondary leadership team (PLT), and also recruited every teacher in the building to take a more active role in discussing college choice with their students. The PLT recruits teachers to host one-on-one and small group conferences where they engage students of all grade levels in conversations about planning for college and career. Teachers are equipped with data and knowledge to develop their capacity to be quality advisers, helping take on a task traditionally owned solely by the counseling department. The school also focused on improving communication with families, and created alerts for students with GPAs below 3.0, a key threshold for admission to somewhat selective colleges. Washington's college enrollment rates have increased dramatically, from 35 percent in 2012-13 to 59 percent in 2014-15.
Though To&Through is a Chicago-based campaign, the aspiration-attainment gap exists nationwide. The vast majority of high school students in America aspire to earn a bachelor's degree, yet less than one in three succeed. This is a national issue that To&Through is proactively tackling on a local level, with the ultimate goal of changing the odds and propelling more of the city's, and the nation's, youth to and through high school and college.
"Chicago—with the right research, data, and training—has moved thousands more students to and through high school and college. As a nation, we can move millions," said former United States Secretary of Education and current Managing Partner of the Emerson Collective, Arne Duncan.
The To&Through Project is a partnership among the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute and Network for College Success that brings together expertise across the key domains of research, data, and training resources. The Urban Education Institute's UChicago Consortium has conducted more than two decades of research on Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to discover what matters most for school improvement and student success, providing the insight and knowledge that ground The To&Through Project. UChicago Impact, the Urban Education Institute's not-for-profit LLC, designed the To&Through online tool and partners with districts and schools across the country to provide other empirically based tools and support services that foster reliably excellent schooling. UChicago Impact currently works in more than 4,500 schools across 60 major cities in 33 states and reaches more than 2.8 million students nationwide. The Network for College Success (NCS) at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration designs and provides training and support resources to help build schools leaders' capacity to use research and data to improve student outcomes. The To&Through Project has also benefited from ongoing collaboration with CPS and other education stakeholders.
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SOURCE The To&Through Project