The University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab releases a groundbreaking report, "Developing a Best Fit Framework for Postsecondary Success," uncovering crucial insights into the challenges faced by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students in achieving college persistence. This comprehensive study, supported by the Spencer Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and Crown Family Philanthropies, delves into the complex dynamics of college aspirations, access, application, enrollment, and persistence among CPS students.

Key Findings Illuminate Systemic Challenges

The report highlights significant barriers hindering college persistence, particularly among racially and socioeconomically minoritized students. Despite high aspirations, only 57 percent of the class of 2018 enrolled in college within one year of high school graduation, and disparities persist among different racial and socioeconomic groups. The findings underscore the pressing need for targeted interventions and informed discussions to bridge these gaps.

Factors Influencing College Decisions

The decision of whether and where to attend college is influenced by three critical factors: academic match, social fit, and affordability. The report provides a nuanced understanding of how these factors interact, impacting not only a student's perceived and actual college options but also their likelihood of applying, enrolling, persisting, and ultimately graduating.

Mixed Methods Approach and Comprehensive Analysis

The research team utilized a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative analysis of CPS student records with qualitative insights from interviews with CPS alumni. This comprehensive methodology allowed researchers to uncover nine key findings, offering a compass for understanding the barriers, trends, and disparities influencing the educational trajectory of CPS students.

Recommendations for Informed Interventions

The report's recommendations include providing students with information about college costs earlier in the application process, targeting additional financial resources to students with the most significant needs, simplifying the financial aid process, and expanding access to comprehensive support services. These strategies aim to empower students to make informed decisions and ensure that every CPS graduate has the support needed for college success.

Driving Change and Fostering Equity

The release of "Developing a Best Fit Framework for Postsecondary Success" marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing efforts to foster equity and support college persistence among CPS students. This report is a crucial resource for educators, policymakers, parents, and community members committed to dismantling barriers and unlocking opportunities for all students.

About The University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab

For generations, government policies and institutional structures of inequity have excluded many Americans—notably Black and Hispanic communities—from opportunities for social mobility through the vehicles of education, employment, and wealth creation. Ending intergenerational poverty and building an inclusive economy—one that provides real economic opportunities for all communities— requires collaboration across sectors, as well as scientific evidence about what levers have the greatest impact on opportunities for economic stability and mobility. Traditional research can take years, and the results often do not reach those who need the information most—the people living with and working on these issues. The UChicago Inclusive Economy Lab solves this by working with policymakers, organizations, and communities to identify their most urgent and pressing challenges, co-generate evidence about what works, and translate that evidence into real policy changes that expand economic opportunity for communities that have experienced disinvestment.