Charter School Graduation Extravaganza


The Renaissance Fund wants us all to know that there a bunch of charter high school graduations over the weekend and that the schools are graduating their first classes with a whopping 90 percent of the students (who remain, I assume) accepted into two or four year colleges.  


Chicago Charter High Schools Graduating their First Classes this Weekend
with More than 90% of Graduates Accepted to College


What: Graduation ceremonies will be held for the Class of 2010 at Urban Prep Charter School, Rauner College Prep and Pritzker College Prep, campuses of Noble Street Charter School, and Chicago International Charter School--Ralph Ellison campus this weekend.  The schools are among 6 charter high schools with their first graduating classes this spring.  More than 90% of their graduates have been accepted at a 2 or 4 year college.


When:             Saturday, June 12th

            9:00am -         Rauner College Prep, a Campus of Noble Street Charter School -

                                   Field Museum, James Simpson Theatre, 1400 S. Lakeshore Dr.
            1:30pm -         Pritzker College Prep, a Campus of Noble Street Charter School - 
                                    Field Museum, James Simpson Theatre, 1400 S. Lakeshore Dr. 
            6:00pm -         Urban Prep Academy for Young Men Charter School (Englewood Campus)
                                    UIC Forum, University of Illinois at Chicago, 725 W. Roosevelt Rd.
            Monday, June 14th

            5:00pm --         Chicago International Charter School - Ralph Ellison Campus
                                    Illinois Institute of Technology, Herman Union Building, 3421 S. Federal St.


Chicago (6/24/10) - More than 90% of the 577 graduating students at six Chicago charter high schools have been accepted to a 2 or 4 year college, a rate nearly double the district college enrollment average of just more than 50%.  These six charter public high schools are graduating their first senior classes this year and were launched through the city's Renaissance 2010 initiative in 2006.  


Andrea Rodriguez, a senior at Pritzker College Prep, is the first in her immediate family to go to college and will study engineering at the University of Illinois next fall: "When I started Noble in freshmen year," she says, "I thought that maybe I would go to college, but if I didn't get to college, that would be OK too.  It wasn't until I attended Pritzker that I realized I needed to take my education beyond high school." 


While each school model is unique, all six offer students a strong college-going culture, including interim assessments aligned to the ACT, early exposure to college options, and regular advisories guiding progress toward college. 


The Renaissance Schools Fund is a venture philanthropy organization that invests in the start-up of autonomous public schools.  Chicago's business and civic communities established RSF to support the city's effort to create 100 new schools in its most challenged neighborhoods.  Since 2005, RSF has raised more than $50 million and helped to launch 67 new public schools.  To learn more, please visit    ###


(1) Percent of students accepted at each school: Rauner College Prep (98%), a Campus of Noble Street Charter School; Pritzker College Prep, a Campus of Noble Street Charter School (95%); Chicago International Charter School, Ralph Ellison Campus (89%); University of Chicago Charter School - Woodlawn High School Campus (94%); Perspectives Charter School - Calumet High School Campus (90%); and Urban Prep Academy for Young Men Charter School (100%). 

Filed under: Events & Deadlines


Leave a comment
  • Wow! 100% of Urban Prep's seniors are going to college? Way to go guys!!! Will be interested to see where all these kids are five years from now! Hopefully this will be one of many huge achievements in their lives.

  • Well, they didn't say they were going to college--only that they got accepted. It isn't that hard to do really. There are many schools like Columbia College that have open enrollment policies. The amazing things about these students is they survived Urban Prep's weeding out process. In their freshman class they were 163. 107 stayed and the 56 kids who were difficult were sent back to CPS to deal with. Way to keep hope alive guys.

  • Were all of those 1/3 dropped? Did some of them leave voluntarily perhaps because their family moved or they grew tired of the pace and amount of work required to keep up in their classes? I'd want to see more granularity before accusing the school of shenanigans.

    CPS also has a process for removing students from school. It is intended to safeguard the other students from violent and disruptive students. If any of the students dropped from UP were in that category, then I can certainly understand it.

  • In order to protect the confidentiality of a student with a learning disability who is graduating from a charter high school in Chicago this year I am not going to name the school, nor the student. But during early part of this school year I attended an IEP meeting for a female student with a learning disability who had attended a charter high for all four years.

    The meeting took place at the beginning of this student's senior year and the student's mother wanted her daughter to receive an additional year of education beyond the four years, her position was that the school had not effectively improved her daughter's reading skills.

    I reviewed this student's records and found that when she graduated from a Catholic elementary school she was reading at approximately grade level 7. She had been identified as learning disabled in fourth grade and was enrolled as a non-attending CPS student. As such she was provided some very limited special education services at her nearest public elementary school, and her mother also paid privately for tutoring. By her junior year she was still reading at approximately seventh grade level and had great difficulty in many of her classes at the charter high school where she received no direct special education services at all, only consultative services. But effectively this student was passed through her classes using a fairly radical and broad grade modification standard, which seemed to irritate the general education teacher in attendance at the IEP meeting.

    I agreed with the mom that her daughter might well benefit from a fifth year of high school focusing on reading remediation, possibly in a private special education school, but this could also require litigation. But the major problem with going forward with a due process case was this student was turning 18 and as such she could legally make her own decisions, her decision was to graduate and go to a city college.

    I have not talked with this family since the IEP meeting, but I have little doubt the student is one of the 90% of charter graduates going on to college. I also have no doubt she did not pass her math and reading qualifying tests and will have to take non-credit remedial classes in city college.

    Now in fairness to charter schools I have seen very similar things in traditional CPS high schools. The mother told me that the primary reason she enrolled her in a charter high school was to save money on tuition from what she had been paying for years in a Catholic school. She believed looking at the school from the outside it was just like a Catholic high school and was safe, she told me after the IEP meeting it was really was not like a Catholic school at all and there were some very worrisome students in the charter school who had not been a good influence on her own daughter. I think it is unlikely that this student would have done much better attending her local general high school, which the mother was completely opposed to sending her to.

    I guess this is an example of what could be called the dilemma of choice. Really given the family's economic situation there were no really good choices for this learning disabled student.

    Rod Estvan

  • Not saying that cheating on ISATs is also happening in Chicago public & charter schools, but this report was interesting:

  • You also have the ability to throw out anyone that causes problems! You also get to throw out students with truancy problems! You are a private school and don't have to abide by CPS rules!

  • Student success is related to a number of factors:

    Early childhood education
    Parental and family support
    Socioeconomic background
    Availability of reading materials in the home
    Teacher quality
    Amount of instructional time
    Overall school environment
    Class size
    A school's student selection policies

    I don't doubt that a 7 hour school day and longer school year was a part of your success at Cristo Rey. But neighborhood schools simply face issues which Cristo Rey does not. To compare a neighborhood school to a private school (or a neighborhood school to a charter school, for that matter) is an invalid comparison. And to do so while demeaning others in the profession isn't helpful to anyone. We can all learn from various successes in differing schools without resorting to bashing others.

  • I'd like to see a list of each freshmen class to compare with the list of graduates four years later. And I'd like to see to what schools students get sent to when they opt out or are removed, expelled, counseled out, etc. That would make for interesting reading!

    On a side note, 100% of graduates at my nephew's school (in a different state) were accepted into college. As part of their graduation requirements seniors had to submit at least one application to a college with functionally open enrollment. And yes, his school also uses this 100% figure prominently in its advertising.

    Not to take anything away from these graduates - congratulations! - but all too frequently, and especially in the case of charter and other privatized schools, there are manipulations and machinations unseen behind the mass marketing. Nothing unusual there, of course, that's just how the corporate world of publicly funded private education works.

  • I am a proponent of community colleges. However, what makes me uncomfortable about this push to have such a high rate of college acceptance is that the students become prey to the proprietary colleges like Westwood.

  • Actually, Urban Prep's students were all accepted to four-year colleges (city college is just two years). Even if students were accepted to open enrollment schools, that doesn't mean that they won't go anywhere or that the school isn't going to give them a good enough education to do anything with their lives. They had the motiviation to apply to school and were accepted. That's almost half the battle - making kids realize that they need to do more schooling after high school if they want a better paying job amd that they CAN get into and go to college.

  • I am not putting down open enrollment colleges. I think anybody who goes to Columbia and has the chance to study with a Joe Meno is extremely fortunate as was anybody who had the chance to learn from the late Ed Morris. College is not for everybody and that's regardless of background. There are an awful lot of students who leave college with huge loans and then take a job at the local Best Buy and try to pay off $80,000 in loans on $10 an hour. My main beef with Urban Prep is that out of 163 students in their freshman class, the ones that were difficult got shuffled elsewhere.

  • Cristo Rey teacher said "Time is key, although I know that less-dedicated teachers hate to hear that."

  • In 2003, i worked in a relatively successful and renowned middle/high school on the south side of the city. Our school boasted an extremely high post-secondary acceptance rate. The problem is, it meant nothing except to help make the school look better.

    It included students who applied to vocational colleges and schools, city colleges, open enrollment schools, and any other institution that could be considered post-secondary education or training.

    Besides the type of institutions that were considered, it only meant that the students had been accepted. There is no follow-up to see if they actually matriculated. No follow up to see if those who matriculated went on to graduate.

    It is a bogus statistic. We made students apply to at least one institution that would accept them. The counselors did most of the heavy lifting for the applications.

    There were students who did go on to good universities and even great universities. But to take the statement that all were accepted to programs, and conflate it to mean anything other than someone took the time to apply to a 'school' that accepts anyone with a pulse is intentionally misleading. Better than nothing perhaps, but the average person reading stats like that are likely to get a completely wrong impression. And that is the intention of the people putting out those numbers.

  • I am not less dedicated because my mandatory work day is shorter than yours. I believe I should be paid for additional required hours. The past 12 months I have worked 3,000 hours, many of those hours obviously volunteered. But if CPS wants to lengthen the mandatory school day, despite the fact that I will once again work 3,000 hours next year, I expect to be paid for that additional required time.

  • Yes, yes, Cristo Rey's success is due to the longer school day. And, more importantly, its selective admissions. (Which is fine. No complaints here.) The Chicago Public Schools would also see undeniable success if it used a selective admissions process based on Cristo Rey's own criteria:

    1) Motivation & Maturity
    2) Openness to Religious Values
    3) Employability
    4) Grades of

  • I really wish "college" wasn't being held up as the end-all, be-all. This country needs people who have completed high school, but it's stupid to send everybody to college. There are so many other paths that would make this society stronger and still deliver a good quality of life to each. And it's also stupid to send high school graduates who are not college-ready to college. They fail quickly, seemingly within a year or two, and wind up with a sad story along with a lot of debt and no good way to pay it back.

  • I was interested in the Cristo Rey 5 yer teacher. I gave 32 years of service to the children of Chicago. I workd hard and used the 2 month break o revitalize. I was then able to give 32 yars. I wonder what kind of school ,if any, is the Cristo Rey person at. Perhaps he left teaching?

Leave a comment