GRAD Partnership Names Thomas Kelly College Preparatory a Spotlight School

June 1, 2023, Chicago, IL – The GRAD Partnership is proud to announce its third spotlight school, Thomas Kelly College Preparatory, a high school in Chicago, Illinois. Kelly College Prep was chosen for its efforts to increase student connectedness, providing multiple opportunities for students to weigh in on how they are learning and what they need. As one of the largest schools in Chicago, Kelly College Prep reflects the economic, linguistic, ethnic, and cultural diversity of the city’s southwest side. Forty percent of Kelly students are bi- or multi-lingual and 93% are part of low-income families.

“Kelly College Prep is a living testament to the benefits of student success systems,” said Patricia Balana, managing director of the GRAD Partnership. “When students can provide input on their needs and use their voices to become leaders, they are able to establish responsibility in their learning, grow their confidence, and explore new opportunities. We applaud Kelly College Prep for all their efforts to prioritize student needs and create more student-centered learning environments.”

In addition to student connectedness, Kelly College Prep uses actionable and data-driven solutions to solicit input from the students. Using Elevate, a research-based survey given to students about their classroom experiences, Kelly’s Instructional Support Team engaged the whole teaching staff in surveying young people to determine where to focus their efforts. They collectively reviewed their Elevate data in cross-department professional learning communities, naming opportunities and challenges. After a review of the data, the teachers decided to focus on “meaningful work,” which centers students on discovering the personal relevance of learning, connecting classwork to life outside of the classroom, and creating opportunities for students to make their own choices.  

“In education, we say we are here for students or we want to give students what they need. What I’m learning and what the research is telling us is that we hardly ever ask students what they want, but their sense of identity and connectedness is critical to helping them succeed in school,” said Kelly College Prep Principal Raul Magdaleno. “At Kelly, we use students’ voices to select pathways and listen to what they’re saying is happening in the classroom to impact instruction. We talk to our kids.”

Kelly College Prep is the GRAD Partnership’s third spotlight school. Spotlight schools are recognized for their commitment to implementing a student success system to better support the academic progress, college and career transitions, and well-being of all students. Student success systems have four common elements: strong, supportive relationships; real-time, actionable, holistic data; strategic improvement actions; and student-centered mindsets. Each spotlight school presents its own unique approach to implementing a student success system that works for its school community and serves as a national example for how to use data and craft individual and school-wide responses to advance student success.  

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