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### Study Reveals CPS Students’ Reading Progress Ranks Top 3 Among Largest U.S. Districts

NOTE: This narrative has been updated to reflect the rankings released by The Council of the Great City Schools.

Chicago Public Schools authorities are commending recent research indicating that students have rebounded to pre-pandemic reading levels and surpassed the majority of large school districts nationwide.

While the district recognizes the need for further enhancements in proficiency and bridging opportunity disparities, the data is viewed as a testament to the effective allocation of pandemic relief funds by CPS and a rationale for continued financial support.

Chief Education Officer of CPS, Bogdana Chkoumbova, emphasized that while growth is a positive initial stride, sustained assistance is imperative for students to not only exhibit progress but also strive towards enhanced proficiency and academic achievement.

The Education Recovery Scorecard, a collaborative study by Harvard and Stanford universities, reveals that Chicago’s 3rd to 8th-grade students secured the third position among the 100 largest districts nationwide in terms of reading advancement from 2019 to 2023.

Furthermore, CPS disclosed statistics illustrating that the district ranked first in reading progress during this period among 78 urban districts affiliated with The Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS).

Among the states evaluated, Illinois exhibited the most significant improvements in reading during the specified timeframe and was one of merely three states where reading proficiency now surpasses 2019 levels, with students advancing by over a third of a grade level from 2022 to 2023.

Despite notable progress, math scores continue to lag behind. Both the state and district are still below pre-pandemic math proficiency levels, with Illinois being one of five states experiencing minimal setbacks according to researchers. The study estimates that Illinois students regressed by one-third of a grade equivalent between 2019 and 2022, while CPS students faced a more substantial decline of three-quarters of a grade equivalent during the same period.

While the state managed to recover over half of the math losses by 2023, CPS, grappling with a larger deficit, is yet to make up significant ground.

Chkoumbova acknowledged the extensive journey ahead, emphasizing that the advancements were intentional and attributed the growth in reading achievement to investments in CPS’ tutor corps, in-school academic interventionists, and instructional coaches for educators.

Looking forward, the sustainability of these programs poses a challenge as the federal funding that facilitated many strategies during the pandemic is due to expire next year. Concerns loom over CPS’s ability to uphold these initiatives and sustain academic progress.

Despite the impressive learning pace maintained by Illinois students, it is improbable for them to catch up by the time federal funding ceases in September, as indicated by the Education Recovery Scorecard.

As the COVID-19 relief funding dwindles, with only $300 million remaining from federal aid, CPS is anticipated to receive a comparable sum this autumn. However, advocates are advocating for increased allocations as the federal pandemic relief funds approach expiration.

Chkoumbova stressed the necessity for collaborative efforts from various entities including state and federal officials, community-based organizations, and philanthropies to ensure the continuity of these investments and accelerate student growth.

As budget planning progresses for the upcoming academic year, Chkoumbova anticipates minimal alterations in funding priorities. Nevertheless, no additional funding sources have been put forth thus far.

“While we aim to preserve the effective investments within our schools for the next academic year,” Chkoumbova stated, “long-term sustainability will necessitate external support to maintain these initiatives and propel student success.”