Chicago students sit for IB tests at record levels

76% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch.

IB programmes continue to be a pathway of academic success for traditionally underserved students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in the US. Data from the IB’s May 2015 examination session indicates that the number of test takers increased in 2015, with 76 percent of the 1,223 students who took the tests qualifying for free and reduced lunch. Of those students, the percentage of students scoring a 4+ was 76 percent. US schools with a high proportion of low-income students are eligible to be designated as Title I schools, which allows for the allotment of federal resources to attempt to close this achievement gap. Closing the academic achievement gap at Title I schools has been a key objective for the IB. 

CPS has become the largest IB network in the US, with 43 authorized IB schools and 10 schools currently in the authorization process across the city. Since 2012, the total enrollment in IB programmes has doubled from 10,138 students to 20,398 students. Also since 2012, participation in high school IB programmes has almost quadrupled from 3,442 students to 12,582 students participating in both the Middle Years Programme (9 -10th grade) and the Diploma Programme (11 – 12th grade). Research conducted by the Chicago Postsecondary Transition Project showed that CPS graduates who have completed the IB Diploma Programme (DP) have a college persistence rate of 75 percent.   

The IB tests are administered to 11th and 12th grade DP students in May each year. In 2015, in Chicago Public Schools: 

  • 1,223 students took 3,792 subject tests 

  • 1,000 students, 82 percent, scored a 4+ on one or more exams 

  • 935 students qualified for Free and Reduced Lunch 

  • 76 percent of the students who qualified for Free and Reduced Lunch scored a 4+ 

Working to eliminate the participation gaps present in academically challenging high school courses remains a top goal for the IB. To that end, the IB has joined with the College Board to enroll more than 100,000 low-income, minority, and under-represented students in DP and Advanced Placement (AP) courses over the next three years. This effort called, “Lead Higher,” is spearheaded by the education nonprofit Equal Opportunity Schools. 

Earlier this year, the IB released research demonstrating the growth of participation in its programmes among Title I schools and the increased success of those students in post-secondary education. Full survey results can be found here

Highlights from the findings include: 

  • The number of IB programmes at Title 1 schools has grown by 46 percent since the 2009-2010 school year. 60 percent of all public schools that offered IB programmes in the US were designated Title I in 2012-2013. 

  • DP students from Title I schools, including low-income and minority students, enroll in college at much higher rates than national averages: 

    • 84 percent of low-income African American DP students enroll immediately in college, the same percentage as white students who are not low-income. 

    • 79 percent of low-income DP students from Title I schools enroll immediately in college. 

  • 87 percent of African American DP students from Title I schools enroll in college – this is higher than any other racial group.  Nationally, the college enrollment rate for African American students is 57 percent. 

Chicago Public Schools serves 393,000 students in 660 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.