Education Lab Teen Outreach Program

Recently, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has increased both the number of ninth graders who are on-track to graduate and the number of students who ultimately receive a diploma. The five-year graduation rate in 2014 was 70 percent, compared to 50 percent just ten years earlier. But there is still work to be done to ensure that all CPS students get the support they need to succeed.

One key challenge is how to most effectively target scarce resources to support struggling students. Partnering with CPS, the Education Lab developed a machine learning tool that uses administrative data to identify who may need additional support to graduate. The tool identifies these young people with incredible accuracy and when they are still in middle school.

In summer 2016, CPS piloted an intensive intervention—the Wyman Center’s Teen Outreach Program (TOP)—to support these youth. TOP connects youth with caring adults and mentors, helps them develop life skills, and engages them in community service. The Education Lab will evaluate whether the program helps students stay on track academically and ultimately graduate from high school.