American Graduate Special

With a nationwide high school graduation rate of 75 percent and a graduation rate in the Chicago Public Schools at 65 percent, what happens to the other millions of students nationwide and thousands locally who don’t graduate? Chicago Tonight’s American Graduate Special, with a live studio audience, examines this crisis and what can be done about it. Read a recap of our live tweets on Twitter @WTTW. View a gallery of images taken in the studio during the show.

Show Breakdown

Freshman on Track

Chicago Public High Schools have begun to boost graduation rates by paying attention to freshman. High schools track freshman grades, failures and attendance, among other factors. The resulting freshman on track rate is highly predictive of who will graduate. Elizabeth Brackett looks at a southwest side neighborhood high school that has boosted its freshman on track rate from 62 percent in 2003 to 97 percent today.

Our first panel discusses Freshman on Track, research by the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR), about the things parents, students, educators and leaders can do to ensure middle school students are being well-prepared to succeed in their first year of high school.


Undocumented Challenges

Heading off to college or getting a job after high school may seem like typical options, but they are NOT easy options for immigrant students who are undocumented. For them, the barriers to completing high school, and figuring out what to do if and when they graduate, pile up. Brandis Friedman speaks with students who are undocumented to explore those barriers, from being isolated by their secretive status to finding funds to cover the cost of college. And, she looks at how a few changes in the law are helping them make their way.

Our second panel explores the challenges and misperceptions undocumented youth and their educators face when considering that population’s academic and societal future.


Web Extra: 10 Steps for Academic Success
What can parents and caregivers do to prepare middle school students for educational success? WTTW’s list of 10 suggestions includes staying in contact with teachers, knowing your child’s friends, and making attendance and punctuality a priority. Read an article.