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Chicago Public Schools claims record graduation numbers

Harper High School students wearing bright red caps and gowns filed into the Third Baptist Church in Englewood Friday morning. They are just a fraction of the more than 18,500 students graduating from CPS this year.

The district projects its graduation rate will hit 60.6 percent, the highest it's been since at least 1999.

Typically, CPS doesn't make projections about its graduation rate. It waits until it has a final number.

A CPS spokeswoman said the projection reflects the number of students who already graduated plus those expected to graduate after summer school or a fifth year.

The senior class at Harper also saw a significant increase in its data, with higher attendance, fewer suspensions and increases in test scores.

"You were the class that took the ACT scores to double-digit status," Principal Leonetta Sanders told the senior class to rousing applause.

CPS schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard applauded the hard work of teachers and principals, but said the district still has a lot of work to do.

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