Rigorous college prep program helps CPS students get into selective colleges

March 22, 2012

New research shows Chicago Public Schools students enrolled in a rigorous college prep program, known as the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, are much more likely to get into good colleges.

The IB programs are located in neighborhood high schools around the city. Launched in 1997, the college prep programs were inspired by a long-running IB program in Lincoln Park High School. According to the study, released Wednesday, the programs have increasingly been used by the school district as a to provide a "high-quality education to high-achieving students, regardless of their mobility."

The study was completed by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Their research found that students in the IB programs have a greater chance of not only getting into selective four-year colleges, but also staying there.

David Johnson, a researcher at the University of Chicago who worked on the study, said the results show many students involved in the program could experience life-changing results.

"When we talk about a 40 percent increase in the chances of going to college and a 50 percent chance in going to a selective college, what we're really talking about is something that changes a students life chances pretty dramatically," Johnson said.

CPS spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said the report confirms the success of IB, and the district will do it's own evaluation of the program.

Ziegler said the average cost for a school's diploma program is $175,000 per year. The funding covers a coordinator position for each program, as well as professional development, texts, extended day wages for teachers, substitutes and instructional materials.