Report: Seventy-Nine Percent of Eighth Graders In Chicago Public Schools Are Below Proficient In Reading

With teachers striking in Chicago, the news is not good over all for parents and students in my home town after the Department of Education released data showing an incredible Seventy-nine percent of the 8th graders in the Chicago Public Schools are not grade-level proficient in reading. In addition, 80 percent are not grade-level proficient in math.

Looking at the report, this appears a slight improvement. It is an astonishing disclosure and a ringing condemnation of our current efforts on public education. These children are being condemned to a life of low-level employment if they cannot meet basic reading and math requirements. Moreover, our country is unlikely to compete in the world economy with such a work force.

The data is the result of the U.S. Department of Education administered National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests in reading and math to students around the country — scored on a scale of 0 to 500. Nationally, students on average score a 264 on the test. In Chicago, the average is 253. The students are placed in ascending groups from “below basic,” “basic,” “proficient” or “advanced.”

Nationally, public school 8th graders scored an average of 264 on the NAEP reading test. Statewide in Illinois, the 8th graders did a little better, scoring an average of 266. But in the Chicago Public Schools, 8th graders scored an average of only 253 in reading. That was lower even than the nationwide average of 255 among 8th graders in “large city” public schools. Only 19 percent rated proficient in reading with another 2 percent rated advanced. That latter figure is equally disappointing that only two percent reached the highest category of performance.

The data shows 48 percent at basic for reading; 18 at proficient; and 3 percent at advanced. That would appear to show 31 percent below even the basic line for reading. Math looks better on that scale with 64 percent at basic, 20 percent at proficient, and 2 percent at advanced. However, it still shows a large percentage at just barely getting by on math.

Once again, I will have to note that we are spending hundreds of billions in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan while our schools continue to decline and our students fall lower in global rankings for reading and math. The ultimate result is both inevitable and disastrous for this country – we will gradually lose our economic and technological edge in the world. Moreover, the distance between the wealthy and poor in this country is likely to grew even more extreme as citizens enter the job market without basic tools needed to secure better paying jobs.

The lack of support is not necessarily in teacher salaries. According to ABC News, the average salary in Chicago is the highest in the country at $71,236 a year. There remains a serious crisis in our schools in terms of the support given to programs, tutoring, and resources. While Congress is keen on constantly studying the relative strength of our military, it does not appear to see the national security crisis growing in our emerging workforce in the twenty-first century.

Source: Department of Education

29 thoughts on “Report: Seventy-Nine Percent of Eighth Graders In Chicago Public Schools Are Below Proficient In Reading”

  1. Please read “The Unfinished Business of the Civil Rights Movement:Failure of America’s Public Schools to Properly Educate its African American Student Populations.” It can possibly be enlightening to some who are still in the fog concerning proper education of Black, non-mainstream inner-city students..

  2. The in box. The $74,000 lie.

    To fact check this claim, I went to the best source available to the public: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS has data from May 2011 for the Chicago metropolitan area that breaks down the average salary for teachers. Across the profession, teachers in the area were earning an average salary of $56,720.

  3. idealist707 1, September 12, 2012 at 6:28 am


    FIRED BY THE IRS. Quite a merit, I seriously mean it.
    Thanks. I was told by Jean I had to go to a “Last Rights” meeting. I said what’s that? She said it’s to discuss your future employment with the IRS. At the meeting I was told to either resign or be fired. I didn’t resign.

  4. NYimes headlines that Mayor Emanual is having trouble handling it.

    I’d say treat the students like prisoners. Put a guard in every hall, class, toilet, schoolyard, etc.

    Institute quizzes each day for one subject to be taken before leaving school is allowed. Failing the test means end of week extra “study hour” time. And forced eating of a portion broccoli before being allowed to leave school.

    Any sujpporters. Seemed it worked with forbidding alcohol, remember?

  5. Having taught high school for 20 years I can attest to the fact that minds are not being challenged, and it has nothing to do with money. The diet is junk food, soda, sex, drugs, and violence. Garbage in, garbage out. There is little respect for self or authority, and no discipline. And like the ostrich, teacher unions have their heads in the sand which unfortunately leaves their bottoms exposed to those who are paying attention.

  6. No surprise here: the Mayor is a graduate of the Israeli military, where only Spartans are preferred.

    the poor students in Chicago will fill the ranks of our Military in its missions to enforce Freedom and Democracy in the world.

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