More Chicago Public School Students Completing College


Chicago Public School students are graduating from college at a rate that has almost doubled over the past 10 years. A thorough study from the Consortium for Chicago School Research showed that 14% of Chicago Public School ninth graders, a decade later, had graduated with a degree from a four-year college or university.

In 2006, just 8% earned a 4-year degree. Nationwide, about 18% of ninth graders go on to get a college degree.

The study also revealed that Chicago Public Schools are doing a better job at 14% than the rates of New York City, Philadelphia, Houston, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., according to Mike Flannery of WFLD-TV.

“If you look at the cities across the country, Baltimore 4 percent of kids are finishing college that start in 9th grade. New York City, 11 percent. So, Chicago actually doesn’t look nearly as bad as I think sometimes people think it would,” said Timothy Knowles of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute.

Still, that means 86% of of CPS students are not getting 4-year degrees, and the fault may be with some local colleges. Four out of the ten colleges most often chosen by CPS students have drop out rates that are disappointing, including the University of Northeastern Illinois and Chicago State University.

While it seems that CPS is improving, there are still many things left to accomplish, writes Greg Hinz for Crain’s Chicago Business.

“This is a moment to celebrate,” consortium senior researcher Kaleen Healey, lead author of the report, said in a statement. But “we have a long way to go to live up to the aspirations we have for our students and that our students have for themselves.”

Healy added that this is not just a problem in Chicago, but for the entire nation.  The consortium believes one of the reasons for improved high school graduation rates is the efforts being made to mentor freshman boys. Of the high school graduates, four in 10 will get their diplomas in four years. The six-year college graduation rate is 49%, which is an increase, but the rate of improvement has decreased in the last three years.

Many CPS students are still not prepared for college. CPS has announced that local colleges will partner with Chicago schools in an effort to develop strategies to increase college completion rates for CPS graduating seniors. The coalition will be called Chicago Higher Education Compact.

The consortium report is titled “The Education Attainment of Chicago Public School Students: A Focus on Four-Year College Degrees” and is part of the Urban Education Institute’s To & Through project. Over three years, the project will release data and an Internet tool on important keys to success in college, says Emily Krone of UChicago News.

Brandis Friedman of WTTW-TV shares that both researchers and the school district can do more. Some modifications could include guidance counseling to help students select the right college for them and colleges that are ready to serve their needs. The To & Through project will help as it makes a school district and college collaboration that can address any barriers to both attending and completing college.

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