Education Lab Data Insights from Chicago’s Options Schools: Seizing the Opportunity to Advance Education Equity

Over the past several years, tremendous strides have been made in improving the graduation rate in Chicago and nationally. But for the remaining 20% of students who still do not graduate, the barriers they face to completing an education cannot be tackled using traditional policy levers. There has been no shortage of efforts to try to address long-standing disparities in educational opportunity and attainment, but after a year of unprecedented crises that exacerbated many of the challenges these students already faced, our schools and school systems must rethink their approach.

Through the Education Lab’s partnership with Chicago Public Schools, we have learned about the alternative schools that disproportionately serve these students in Chicago: Options Schools. Working with Options Schools has revealed an important insight: there is tremendous variability in the types and combinations of barriers students face to completing an education. The data presented in this report support solutions that precisely identify students’ needs and systematically match them to appropriate services.  Through this work, we show that investing in data to identify students and their needs, and instituting a personalized system of supports – systematically and at scale – provides a promising approach to supporting all students in graduating from high school.

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22 June 2021