For 2020, the work of Carnegie’s Spotlight honorees emphasizes the importance of keeping students on track for high school graduation. Their work builds on the groundbreaking analytic work of the UChicago Consortium on School Research that found that 9th-grade on-track student achievement (i.e., earning enough credits to be promoted on time to sophomore year) is the single best predictor of whether a student will graduate from high school within four years—more so than test scores, family income, or race/ethnicity.
Selected from a large and diverse group of applicants, the two Spotlight honorees for 2020 were identified through a rigorous process of independent review and judgment as demonstrating quality in their application of continuous improvement in addressing significant education problems of practice. The two educational enterprises were selected as Spotlight honorees for the following reasons:
- The UChicago Network for College Success (NCS) leveraged continuous improvement methods and principles to dramatically increase the number of 9th-grade students, especially Black and Latinx children and children from low-income families, that were on track to high school graduation. The Chicago schools that NCS partnered with saw their average graduation rate grow from 71% in 2013 to 84% in 2019.
- The Connecticut RISE Network applied networked improvement approaches in five high schools in four of the state’s largest districts. These efforts generated demonstrable improvement of 9th grade on-track achievement and four-year graduation rates for students of color and those from low-income families. The network of teachers, counselors, school administrators, and central office leaders, which came together to ensure all students experience success, saw the graduation rates of the RISE Network’s schools increase from 78% in 2016 to 87% in 2019, while statewide graduation rates remained constant.