Chicago's Urban Prep and 100 Percent College Acceptance: Time for the Rest of The Story

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In March 2016, Chicago-based Urban Prep advertised that 100 percent of its 252 seniors have been admitted into a four-year college or university– for the seventh year in a row.


According to the Illinois Report Cards for 2014-15, the three Urban Prep schools have some explaining to do regarding their 7-year, 100-percent-college-accepatence miracle.

In 2014-15, Urban Prep West Campus had a 66 percent four-year graduation rate. Only 14 percent of students scored 21 or higher on the ACT. Urban Prep Englewood had a 79 percent four-year graduation rate, with only 13 percent of students scoring 21 or higher on the ACT. Finally, Urban Prep Bronzeville graduated only 55 percent of its students in four years; 18 percent of students scored 21 or higher on the ACT.

So, it isn’t that all who attend Urban Prep make it to graduation and are part of that splashy, 100-percent headline. (The idea that the “100 percent” involves only students who make it to graduation is confirmed by this 2010 Wall Street Journal article.)

What is also suspect is whether acceptance to college is a requirement for graduation from Urban Prep. Such is true for YES Prep in Houston, Texas, which is also known for publicizing its 100 percent college acceptance rate– and which states in its student handbook that it will not grant a diploma to seniors who have not been accepted into at least one four-year college or university “unless exempt from such requirements by the student’s Admission Review Dismissal (ARD) committee.”

In 2014, Urban Prep told the Chicago Tribune that in 2016, it would release its closely-guarded stats on how many Urban Prep students actually completed postsecondary studies and what percentage remain enrolled. The same 2014 Chicago Tribune article profiles a number of students, some who did not complete college, and some who did.

It is time for Urban Prep to fess up and deliver the reality behind the 100-percent gloss, including whether Urban Prep seniors are denied graduation/ are “encouraged” to transfer if they cannot produce evidence of college acceptance, or whether Urban Prep has some sort of default acceptance arrangement with some four-year colleges or universities.

In other words, it’s time to extinguish the smoke and move the mirrors.

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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

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