It’s a miracle! Urban Prep loses more students, still has 100% college-going rate!

Sun-Times headline

UPDATE: I e-mailed Tim King, founder and CEO of Urban Prep, about the numbers discrepancy. He says that the Sun-Times number is wrong and that he has no idea why they wrote that. He confirms that Urban Prep has 107 graduates. 


Today’s Sun-Times print edition reports on what must now be called the Miracle in Englewood. Urban Prep Charter School still has a 100% college-going rate with ALL 95 graduating seniors going to college!

Problem is, for the past few weeks, the orgy of happy-weepy media reports about the Urban Prep Miracle was that all 107 graduating seniors were going to college (see, for example, People Magazine, Good Morning America, “Urban Prep Named Person of the Week on ABC World News). Now only 95 grads

So, since their first self-promotional blitz, they’ve lost 12 students (the Sun-Times suggests they “transferred”) ? And that’s on top of the other 50 or so members of the class of 2010 who had also gone missing from the rolls since the school first opened, as I reported earlier:   

  • According to the
    Illinois Interactive School Report Card
    , there were 166 freshmen
    enrolled in 2007, Urban
    first year. Of these original freshmen, the Tribune reported that 107 are
    graduating seniors. This yields an overall school graduation rate of
    64%, or nearly 6 points lower than the average district rate of 69.8%.
  • Just as they struggled as entering freshmen, as reported by the
    school’s founder, many of these graduates will likely struggle in
    college given the school’s composite
    state high school examination results
    of 15%, compared with the Chicago average of 28%.

With this new figure in the Sun-Times, the overall graduation rate at Urban Prep goes down to 57%.

So, it begins to look more and more as though Urban Prep’s real “accomplishment” is pushing out and/or refusing to graduate any senior who has not been accepted into college.

Oddly enough, this story, which takes up a full page on p. 19 of today’s print Sun-Times, is not available online. An oversight? Or an effort to keep the new “miracle” news and numbers under wraps to protect the hype? 

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Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.