The To&Through Project is grounded in rigorous research illuminating what matters most for high school and college success

Research shines a light in the dark—it illuminates what really matters for student success so we can make each effort to improve count. 

Jeff Nelson
Co-founder and CEO, OneGoal

The University of Chicago Consortium on School Research has conducted years of rigorous research based on hundreds of schools and tens of thousands of students to identify the factors that indicate and impact college success. Explore the robust body of research that grounds The To&Through Project's data and resources to learn more about what matters most and why for moving students to and through high school and college.

UChicago Consortium: The Research Behind The To&Through Project

Get the Research Overview

Years of rigorous UChicago Consortium research provide the knowledge and insight grounding The To&Through Project. Get an overview of the key research behind To&Through in one handy place.

To&Through Mythbusters

Busting Myths About What Matters for College Success

More than a decade’s worth of research and data from the UChicago Consortium has helped solidify the facts and dispel myths about what it takes to make it to and through college. Check out Ten To&Through Mythbusters to learn what really matters for high school and college success.

Explore the Research on Getting To&Through

High School
College
High School Milestones
College Milestones
The UChicago Consortium's decades of rigorous research have identified what matters most for students’ high school success and helped the Chicago Public Schools see a 17-point increase in their high school graduation rate in less than a decade. Explore the research on the factors that drive high school success below:
The UChicago Consortium has identified what matters most for students' college success, including earning B’s or better in high school, experiencing a schoolwide college-going culture, and choosing higher education institutions with strong institutional graduation rates. Explore the research on what really matters for getting to and through college below:
Filters
UChicago Consortium: High School Graduation Rates through Two Decades of District Change: The Influence of Policies, Data Records, and Demographic Shifts
Featured Report and Key Findings

High School Graduation Rates through Two Decades of District Change: The Influence of Policies, Data Records, and Demographic Shifts

Sixteen years ago, high school students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) were almost as likely to drop out as they were to graduate; today they are three times as likely to graduate as drop out. What is driving this remarkable increase? This report from the UChicago Consortium on School Research addresses the extent to which various factors could account for the changes in graduation rates, including changes in student performance and student demographics, increasing numbers of charter and selective enrollment high schools that serve Chicago students, and changes in school practices around improving attendance and course performance.

Milestones
  • High School Graduation
To&Through Research: The Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students: 2015: A Focus on Four-Year College Degrees
Featured Report and Key Findings

The Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students: 2015: A Focus on Four-Year College Degrees

In 2006, the UChicago Consortium estimated that just 8 percent of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) freshmen would graduate high school, immediately enroll in a four-year college, and go on to earn a bachelor’s degree by their mid-20s. By 2014, that number had risen to 14 percent. This report updates that number using 2015 data, and finds an estimated 16 percent of ninth-graders in Chicago Public Schools will take this route.

Milestones
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
  • College Persistence
Featured Document

The Network for College Success: A Capacity-Building Model for School Improvement

A Capacity-Building Model for School Improvement paper captures the model and history of the Network for College Success (NCS), and situates its work within current research. It uses Freshman On-Track as an example of how the NCS model builds school-level capacity for improvement. The paper was written in collaboration with the UChicago Consortium on School Research.

Milestones
  • Freshman On-Track
  • High School Graduation
To&Through Research: Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework
Report and Key Findings

Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework

Amid growing recognition that strong academic skills alone are not enough for young people to become successful adults, this 2015 report offers wide-ranging evidence to show what young people need to develop from preschool to young adulthood to succeed in college and career, have healthy relationships, be engaged citizens, and make wise choices.

Milestones
  • Freshman On-Track
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
  • College Persistence
  • College Graduation
To&Through Research: Free to Fail or On-Track to College: Why Grades Drop When Students Enter High School and What Adults Can Do About It
Report and Key Findings

Free to Fail or On-Track to College: Why Grades Drop When Students Enter High School and What Adults Can Do About It

This 2014 research brief details the dramatic drop in grades, attendance, and academic behavior that occurs between eighth and ninth grade and demonstrates how intense monitoring and support can help schools keep more ninth-graders on track to graduation.

Milestones
  • Freshman On-Track
  • High School Graduation
To&Through Research: From High School to the Future: ACT Preparation--Too Much, Too Late
Report and Key Findings

From High School to the Future: ACT Preparation—Too Much, Too Late

The majority of Chicago Public Schools students are not attaining the ACT scores they are aiming for, which they need to qualify for scholarships and college acceptance. In this 2008 report, CCSR researchers look at the reasons behind students’ low performance and what matters for doing well on this test. Students are training for the ACT in a last-minute sprint focused on test practice, when the ACT requires years of hard work developing college-level skills.

Milestones
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
Report and Key Findings

From High School to the Future: Potholes on the Road to College

Since 2004, the Consortium has tracked the postsecondary experiences of successive cohorts of Chicago Public Schools graduates and examined the relationship among high school preparation, support, college choice, and postsecondary outcomes. CCSR's first report in this series, From High School to the Future: A First Look at Chicago Public Schools Graduates' College Enrollment, College Preparation, and Graduation from Four-year Colleges, showed that increasing qualifications is the most important strategy to improving students' college participation, access to four-year and more selective colleges, and ultimately college graduation rates. This second postsecondary report looks beyond qualifications to examine where students encounter potholes on the road to college. The findings reveal that Chicago students at all levels of qualifications do not successfully navigate the daunting process of enrolling in four-year colleges and too often default to colleges for which they are overqualified.

Milestones
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
  • College Persistence
To&Through Research: From High School to the Future: The Challenge of Senior Year in Chicago Public Schools
Report and Key Findings

From High School to the Future: The Challenge of Senior Year in Chicago Public Schools

This 2013 report shows that the majority of CPS seniors have schedules dominated by makeup courses and electives, and students themselves describe senior year as unchallenging. It finds that there is much work to do to shift the focus of senior year in Chicago from finishing graduation requirements to preparing for college or employment. 

Milestones
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
To&Through Research: From High School to the Future: The Pathway to 20
Report and Key Findings

From High School to the Future: The Pathway to 20

This 2008 report points to a misalignment between the standards set by the state ISAT tests in elementary school and the college-readiness standards expected of all juniors in Illinois high schools as measured by the ACT. Inspired by a goal in Chicago Public Schools for juniors to score a 20 or above on the ACT, the report is based on a longitudinal analysis of more than 40,000 students from three junior classes.

Milestones
  • Freshman On-Track
  • High School Graduation
UChicago Consortium: High School Graduation Rates through Two Decades of District Change: The Influence of Policies, Data Records, and Demographic Shifts
Report and Key Findings

High School Graduation Rates through Two Decades of District Change: The Influence of Policies, Data Records, and Demographic Shifts

Sixteen years ago, high school students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) were almost as likely to drop out as they were to graduate; today they are three times as likely to graduate as drop out. What is driving this remarkable increase? This report from the UChicago Consortium on School Research addresses the extent to which various factors could account for the changes in graduation rates, including changes in student performance and student demographics, increasing numbers of charter and selective enrollment high schools that serve Chicago students, and changes in school practices around improving attendance and course performance.

Milestones
  • High School Graduation
To&Through Research: Looking Forward to High School and College: Middle Grade Indicators of Readiness in Chicago Public Schools
Report and Key Findings

Looking Forward to High School and College: Middle Grade Indicators of Readiness in Chicago Public Schools

This report follows approximately 20,000 Chicago Public Schools students as they transition from elementary to high school. It studies which markers should be used to gauge whether students are ready to succeed in high school and beyond, and considers the performance levels students need to reach in middle school to have a reasonable chance of succeeding in high school.

Milestones
  • Freshman On-Track
  • High School Graduation
To&Through Research: Preventable Failure: Improvements in Long-Term Outcomes when High Schools Focused on the Ninth Grade Year
Report and Key Findings

Preventable Failure: Improvements in Long-Term Outcomes when High Schools Focused on the Ninth Grade Year

After Chicago Public Schools launched a major effort in 2007 to keep more ninth-graders on track to graduation, UChicago Consortium analyzed 20 schools that showed large gains in on-track rates early on. This 2014 report shows that improvements in ninth grade on-track rates were sustained in tenth and eleventh grade and followed by a large increase in graduation rates.

Milestones
  • Freshman On-Track
  • High School Graduation
To&Through Research: Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance
Report and Key Findings

Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance

This 2012 report summarizes the research on five categories of noncognitive factors related to academic performance: academic behaviors, academic perseverance, academic mindsets, learning strategies, and social skills. It proposes a framework for thinking about how these factors interact to affect academic performance, and what the relationship is between noncognitive factors and classroom/school context, as well as the larger socio-cultural context.

Milestones
  • Freshman On-Track
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
  • College Persistence
  • College Graduation
To&Through Research: The Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students: 2015: A Focus on Four-Year College Degrees
Report and Key Findings

The Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students: 2015: A Focus on Four-Year College Degrees

In 2006, the UChicago Consortium estimated that just 8 percent of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) freshmen would graduate high school, immediately enroll in a four-year college, and go on to earn a bachelor’s degree by their mid-20s. By 2014, that number had risen to 14 percent. This report updates that number using 2015 data, and finds an estimated 16 percent of ninth-graders in Chicago Public Schools will take this route.

Milestones
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
  • College Persistence
To&Through Research: The Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students: A Focus on Four-Year College Degrees
Report and Key Findings

The Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students: A Focus on Four-Year College Degrees

This 2014 report overviews the change in CPS students’ high school graduation, four-year college enrollment, and bachelor’s degree completion since 2006. Then, UChicago Consortium estimated that just 8 percent of CPS freshmen would graduate high school, immediately enroll in a four-year college, and go on to earn a bachelor’s degree by their mid-20s. As of 2014, that number had climbed to 14 percent. 

Milestones
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
  • College Persistence
Document

The Network for College Success: A Capacity-Building Model for School Improvement

A Capacity-Building Model for School Improvement paper captures the model and history of the Network for College Success (NCS), and situates its work within current research. It uses Freshman On-Track as an example of how the NCS model builds school-level capacity for improvement. The paper was written in collaboration with the UChicago Consortium on School Research.

Milestones
  • Freshman On-Track
  • High School Graduation
To&Through Research: What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in Chicago Public High Schools: A Close Look at Course Grades, Failures, and Attendance in the Freshman Year
Report and Key Findings

What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating Chicago Public High Schools: A Close Look at Course Grades, Failures, and Attendance in the Freshman Year

This 2007 report highlighted ninth-grade attendance and grades as useful factors in predicting high school graduation: Almost all students with a “B” average or better at the end of their freshman year graduate, and just one week of absence in ninth grade is associated with a much greater likelihood of failure, regardless of incoming achievement.

Milestones
  • Freshman On-Track
  • High School Graduation
Filters
To&Through Research: The Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students: 2015: A Focus on Four-Year College Degrees
Featured Report and Key Findings

The Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students: 2015: A Focus on Four-Year College Degrees

In 2006, the UChicago Consortium estimated that just 8 percent of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) freshmen would graduate high school, immediately enroll in a four-year college, and go on to earn a bachelor’s degree by their mid-20s. By 2014, that number had risen to 14 percent. This report updates that number using 2015 data, and finds an estimated 16 percent of ninth-graders in Chicago Public Schools will take this route.

Milestones
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
  • College Persistence
To&Through Research: Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework
Report and Key Findings

Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework

Amid growing recognition that strong academic skills alone are not enough for young people to become successful adults, this 2015 report offers wide-ranging evidence to show what young people need to develop from preschool to young adulthood to succeed in college and career, have healthy relationships, be engaged citizens, and make wise choices.

Milestones
  • Freshman On-Track
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
  • College Persistence
  • College Graduation
To&Through Research: From High School to the Future: A First Look at Chicago Public School Graduates' College Enrollment, College Preparation, and Graduation from Four-Year Colleges
Report and Key Findings

From High School to the Future: A First Look at Chicago Public School Graduates' College Enrollment, College Preparation, and Graduation from Four-Year Colleges

Following CPS graduates from 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2003, this report uses records from Chicago high schools and data from the National Student Clearinghouse to examine the college experiences of all CPS alumni who entered college in the year after they graduated high school.

Milestones
  • College Enrollment
  • College Persistence
  • College Graduation
To&Through Research: From High School to the Future: ACT Preparation--Too Much, Too Late
Report and Key Findings

From High School to the Future: ACT Preparation—Too Much, Too Late

The majority of Chicago Public Schools students are not attaining the ACT scores they are aiming for, which they need to qualify for scholarships and college acceptance. In this 2008 report, CCSR researchers look at the reasons behind students’ low performance and what matters for doing well on this test. Students are training for the ACT in a last-minute sprint focused on test practice, when the ACT requires years of hard work developing college-level skills.

Milestones
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
To&Through Research: From High School to the Future: Making Hard Work Pay Off: The Road to College for Students in CPS's Academically Advanced Programs
Report and Key Findings

From High School to the Future: Making Hard Work Pay Off: The Road to College for Students in CPS's Academically Advanced Programs

This 2009 report looks at the path to college for students in academically advanced programs, revealing that nearly two-thirds of these students graduate with access to selective four-year colleges, yet fewer than half of these students enroll in colleges that match their qualifications--and about 17 percent didn't enroll in any college after graduation.

Milestones
  • College Enrollment
Report and Key Findings

From High School to the Future: Potholes on the Road to College

Since 2004, the Consortium has tracked the postsecondary experiences of successive cohorts of Chicago Public Schools graduates and examined the relationship among high school preparation, support, college choice, and postsecondary outcomes. CCSR's first report in this series, From High School to the Future: A First Look at Chicago Public Schools Graduates' College Enrollment, College Preparation, and Graduation from Four-year Colleges, showed that increasing qualifications is the most important strategy to improving students' college participation, access to four-year and more selective colleges, and ultimately college graduation rates. This second postsecondary report looks beyond qualifications to examine where students encounter potholes on the road to college. The findings reveal that Chicago students at all levels of qualifications do not successfully navigate the daunting process of enrolling in four-year colleges and too often default to colleges for which they are overqualified.

Milestones
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
  • College Persistence
From High School to the Future: Potholes on the Road to College
Report and Key Findings

From High School to the Future: Potholes on the Road to College

This 2008 report found that Chicago students at all levels of qualifications do not successfully navigate the daunting process of enrolling in four-year colleges and too often default to colleges for which they are overqualified. The study uses student and teacher surveys, transcripts, college enrollment data reported by the National Student Clearinghouse, and student interviews to identify the potholes on the road to college.

Milestones
  • College Enrollment
  • College Persistence
  • College Graduation
To&Through Research: From High School to the Future: The Challenge of Senior Year in Chicago Public Schools
Report and Key Findings

From High School to the Future: The Challenge of Senior Year in Chicago Public Schools

This 2013 report shows that the majority of CPS seniors have schedules dominated by makeup courses and electives, and students themselves describe senior year as unchallenging. It finds that there is much work to do to shift the focus of senior year in Chicago from finishing graduation requirements to preparing for college or employment. 

Milestones
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
To&Through Research: Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance
Report and Key Findings

Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance

This 2012 report summarizes the research on five categories of noncognitive factors related to academic performance: academic behaviors, academic perseverance, academic mindsets, learning strategies, and social skills. It proposes a framework for thinking about how these factors interact to affect academic performance, and what the relationship is between noncognitive factors and classroom/school context, as well as the larger socio-cultural context.

Milestones
  • Freshman On-Track
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
  • College Persistence
  • College Graduation
To&Through Research: The Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students: 2015: A Focus on Four-Year College Degrees
Report and Key Findings

The Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students: 2015: A Focus on Four-Year College Degrees

In 2006, the UChicago Consortium estimated that just 8 percent of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) freshmen would graduate high school, immediately enroll in a four-year college, and go on to earn a bachelor’s degree by their mid-20s. By 2014, that number had risen to 14 percent. This report updates that number using 2015 data, and finds an estimated 16 percent of ninth-graders in Chicago Public Schools will take this route.

Milestones
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
  • College Persistence
To&Through Research: The Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students: A Focus on Four-Year College Degrees
Report and Key Findings

The Educational Attainment of Chicago Public Schools Students: A Focus on Four-Year College Degrees

This 2014 report overviews the change in CPS students’ high school graduation, four-year college enrollment, and bachelor’s degree completion since 2006. Then, UChicago Consortium estimated that just 8 percent of CPS freshmen would graduate high school, immediately enroll in a four-year college, and go on to earn a bachelor’s degree by their mid-20s. As of 2014, that number had climbed to 14 percent. 

Milestones
  • High School Graduation
  • College Enrollment
  • College Persistence