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Best Public Schools 2018

Chicago Suburban Cook County Other Suburbs Principal Spotlights

How We Ranked the Schools

Published Sept. 10, 2018

Performance measures were selected and weighted with input from the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute and other experts. We used data from the Illinois State Board of Education and Chicago Public Schools for the 2016–17 school year, the most recent available. Calculations were done by the research nonprofit RTI International. Not all the measures factored into the calculations are shown in the rankings tables, and only four-year schools were included in the high school rankings.

The Measures We Used

  • Spending per pupil is the per-student instructional expenditure, reported by district. (Because CPS reported the same amount for every student — $10,427 — we excluded that figure from Chicago school calculations.)
  • Attendance is a school’s average daily attendance rate, an indicator of a school’s learning environment.
  • Graduation rate is the percentage of students who graduated within five years of entering high school.
  • 5Essentials is based on teacher and student surveys and assesses five key aspects of a school’s learning environment; figures shown are the average scores for each of the five rubrics.
  • Freshmen on track is the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state benchmarks for ninth grade.
  • NWEA/MAP growth is the percentage of students meeting or exceeding the national averages for year-over-year growth on the NWEA/MAP math and reading tests.
  • PARCC attainment is the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards on the PARCC exam; for suburban elementary schools, we used both the straight score and one adjusted for the percentage of low-income students as a way of identifying schools that are exceeding expectations.
  • SAT attainment is the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards on the SAT exam; for high schools, we used both the straight score and one adjusted for the percentage of low-income students as a way of identifying schools that are exceeding expectations.
  • How We Weighted the Measures

    Chicago Elementary Schools

    Chicago High Schools

    Suburban Elementary and Middle Schools

    Suburban High Schools

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