How We Ranked the Schools

Our methodology

Of the many statistics that reflect academic quality, say education experts, the most revealing tend to be students’ test scores, spending per pupil, pupil-teacher ratio (for elementary schools), and graduation rate (for high schools).

Using data from state report cards for the 2010-11 academic year (the most recent available), Chicago assigned points to each public school in the metro area based on how well it compares with its peers on those key measures. We then weighted the results to calculate our rankings (see formulas below). Because all Chicago public schools report the same amount spent per student—$7,946—we excluded the figure for CPS rankings.

Of course, many factors go into making the right choice for your child. Use these rankings as a starting point.

Suburbs

Elementary schools

  • Spending per pupil: 25 percent
  • Pupil-teacher ratio: 25 percent
  • Percentage of students who meet or exceed state standards on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test: 50 percent

High schools

  • Spending per pupil: 25 percent
  • Graduation rate: 25 percent
  • Average composite score on the ACT college entrance exam: 25 percent
  • Percentage of students who meet or exceed state standards on the Prairie State Achievement Examination: 25 percent

Chicago

Elementary schools

  • Average class size in first grade: 33.3 percent (This is a better measure than CPS’s district-wide pupil-teacher ratio.)
  • Percentage of students who meet or exceed state standards on the ISAT: 66.7 percent

High schools

  • Graduation rate: 33.3 percent
  • Average ACT score: 33.3 percent
  • Percentage of students who meet or exceed state standards on PSAE: 33.3 percent

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