At Slate, Matthew Yglesias takes a look at how Chicago students do on the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress), the only country-wide, longitudinal assessment, and says Rahm oughta send his kids there:
You have to delve a bit into the mysteries of the NAEP Data Explorer but that can get you demographic breakdowns and comparisons. We see that on the 8th Grade Math test, white kids from non-poor English-speaking households get 308 in Chicago Public Schools and just 299 nationwide. On the 8th Grade Reading test, white kids from non-poor English-speaking households get 287 in Chicago Public Schools and just 277 nationwide.
On average, Chicago Public Schools students do way worse than the national average in part because the demographics of Chicago Public Schools' client population is challenging and in part because CPS does worse with other sub-categories. Non-poor African-American students, for example, do worse in CPS than they do nationwide. Hispanic English Language Learners do a bit worse in Chicago than they do nationally.
Somewhere along the line I'd heard that Chicago students start at low levels, according to the NAEP, but make considerable progress compared to their peers. So I decided to browse the NAEP Data Explorer myself.
The first thing that's apparent is that in fourth grade, early in CPS students' educations, they're about eight points behind their large-city peers, and this has been true each time the NAEP has been given. By eighth grade, they've narrowed that gap, and narrowed the gap with the national average by a few points as well.
In grade 4, 14 of the districts covered by the NAEP have "significantly higher" scores, five are not significantly different, and four are significantly lower (Cleveland, Detroit, Fresno, and Milwaukee). In grade 8, that changes to seven, seven, and nine. Over that period, Chicago students seem to make some progress compared to their peers in other districts.
The NAEP math assessments suggest the city has made progress over the past decade, but without closing the gap as much.
In grade four, 15 districts have significantly higher scores in math, four not significantly different, and four significantly lower (again, Cleveland, Detroit, Fresno, and Milwaukee). In grade eight, it's 12/2/9. Modest progress, but reasonably good in comparison to CPS's peers.
The results from the ISAT have been comparable:
Diane Ravitch explains how the NAEP works.