The 16 Worst Schools In Chicago Today

Chicago skyline from Lincoln Park

The 16 Worst Schools In Chicago Today

The city of Chicago has a long history and some of the oldest schools. But as the city has grown, some of the educational institutions have lagged behind due to funding, staffing, and other issues. Here we take a look at some of the worst schools in Chicago based on test scores, reading and math proficiency, graduation rates, and college readiness.

Elementary Schools

Group portrait of elementary school kids in school corridor
Elementary schools introduce children to learning and are the base of a good education.

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Manierre Elementary School

Manierre Elementary School is a school serving students from PreK-8. The school has 357 students, and 98% are from low-income families. The school is performing lower than the state average in all areas. Their reading and math test scores show that the students are far below the state average. The student-teacher ratio is 14:1, and 100% of the teachers have been teaching for more than three years. Despite the poor academic performance, the school has a debate club, student council, and other extracurricular activities.

Johnson Elementary School

Johnson Elementary School has 376 students, and 99% of them are from low-income households. Test scores, including reading and math scores, are far below the state average, and the students continue to fall behind. According to Great Schools, the school has an overall rating of 1 out of 10. However, in 2021 the school received a Thrive Award for improvement. And in a survey, the school’s teachers and curriculum received high marks, while family engagement remained low.

Howe Elementary School

Howe Elementary School serves students from PreK-8th grade. The students are from predominantly low-income households. The test scores are far below average for the state. Academically students are not participating in advanced courses like Algebra. Great Schools rated the school a one based on performance. While a reviewer also gave the school a 1 out of 5 on learning, safety, family engagement, teaching, special education, and emotional support. The student-teacher ratio is 18:1, and only 63% of the teachers have more than three years of experience. 

Earle Elementary School

Earle Elementary School students perform lower than average in math and reading but have high participation in advanced courses like Alegra. The school has a low rating in all areas, and a survey by students and staff rated the school low in several areas. Despite the low scores, a reviewer commented that the school has seen improvements in the last few years, and fights and aggressive behavior are improving.

Leland Elementary School

Leland Elementary School's student-teacher ratio is 14:1. The school received a Thrive Award for improvement in 2021, but the test scores and advanced classes are still far below average. The teachers are experienced, with over 97% having over three years of experience. And the school survey of the students and staff rated the curriculum, teachers, and family engagement higher than average. The school is improving, but test scores remain low.

Dett Elementary School

Serving 308 students, Dett Elementary School has low test scores and engagement. According to the survey by students and staff, the teachers and school leaders are below average, while students feel supported at an above-average rate. Despite the school's low score, several reviews from family members of students gave the school a good rating and mentioned the excellent staff.

High Schools

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High school prepares students for their future.

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Harper High School

Although Harper High School has a graduation rate of 95%, the students are performing lower than average. The school serves 86 students from 10-12 grades. Over half the students pursue technical or vocational training post-graduation. According to the reviews on Great Schools, the school has improved in the last ten years. However, one review by an anonymous teacher mentions violence in the classrooms.

Gage Park High School

The 342 students at Gage High School are not leaving the school prepared for further education. The graduation rate is 50%, while only 25% of graduates go on to further education. The student-teacher ratio is 13:1, and only 77% of teachers have over three years of experience. The school has several AP courses, and 16% of the students are participating in those courses.

Farragut Career Academy High School

The graduation rate at Farragut Career Academy High School is 64%, while only 38% go on to college or vocational programs. The low test scores in Math, Reading, and Algebra show the students are not performing at state levels. The student and staff survey and reviews rate the teachers and staff highly, but the family involvement is low, contributing to low academic performance.

Richards Career Academy High School

At Richards Career Academy High School, the graduation rate is 58%, while only 26% of graduates pursue further education. The school received low marks on the student staff survey, and the test scores are far below average.

Orr Academy High School

The Orr Academy High School received the Thrive Award for improvement in 2021. And the school has a high rating in the school survey, with students feeling supported by staff and teachers. However, the test score reveals that students are not performing well and are not leaving school academically prepared. The graduation rate is 50%, with 27% going on to further education.

Marshall Metropolitan High School

While the Marshall Metropolitan High School received the Thrive Award for improvement in 2021, the school continues to have poor test scores. The graduation rate is 56%, and the graduates that continue to further education is only 28%. Despite low test scores, the morale at the school appears to be high as the students and staff rated the school above average on collaborative teachers, student support, ambitious lessons, and family engagement, which are all important elements to raising test scores and seeing students succeed.

Manley Career Academy High School

Manley Career Academy High School is a public high school with a 29% graduation rate, and 12% of those graduates continue their education at college or vocational school. The school has a 9:1 student-teacher ratio, and 92% of the teachers have over three years of experience. The school received a Thrive Award in 2021 for improvement but still has a long way to go to prepare students academically to reach their goals. The school survey shows that the teachers and staff are looked at positively with family engagement, and strong leaders rated above average. Unfortunately, the survey shows that students do not feel supported. The school is moving in the right direction, but more academic support is needed.

Tilden Career Community Academy High School 

Tilden Career Community Academy High School serves 214 students in grades 9-12. The school received a Thrive Award in 2021, and while the school appears to have improved in some ways, students are still struggling academically. Only 47% of students graduate, and of those, only 34% receive further education. The school is below average in tests score and AP classes. Despite those scores, the student and staff survey rated teachers and curriculum above average, While family involvement and student support were average. The school has a 10: 1 student-teacher ratio, and 83% of teachers have been teaching for over three years. 


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Students at university are guided and inspired to follow their career path.

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East-West University 

East-West University is a private university that offers four Bachelors in Arts and Sciences. The school ranks below average with a 31% freshman retention rate. And an 18% graduation rate for six years of study with an 81% dropout rate. For the students that do graduate, the average annual salary is 39,500.

Chicago State University

Chicago State University is a public university. The school has a 54% freshman retention rate which is below average at the state and national levels. Only 3% of students graduate within four years, and 28% within six years. With 41% of students transferring out and 24% dropping out. Despite the below-average ratings, some reviewers mention the beautiful campus and the professional and helpful professors.

These schools are ranked based on test scores, academic performance, college preparation, and graduation rates. Extracurriculars and other metrics are not taken into account. 

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