Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago Public Schools officials today said that the college enrollment rate of CPS high school graduates has increased for the fifth consecutive year at a rate that outpaces the nation.
In 2009, more than 10,000 CPS graduates went on to college -- an all-time high – and the college enrollment rate now stands at 54.4 percent, up from 52.5 percent in 2008.
“This is great news and we’re proud of all the hard work by students, teachers, principals and parents that has resulted in this progress all across the city,” Daley said at a news conference held at U.S. Cellular Field, 333 W. 35th St.
Prior to the announcement, Daley joined school officials and leaders from the faith-based community at an interfaith breakfast organized to promote the message about the importance of school attendance on the first day of classes, September 7, and every day.
“Our school communities, parents and students rely on spiritual and community support from these faith leaders here today. We greatly appreciate the efforts of these men and women who are working with us to bring the back-to-school message to their communities,” the Mayor said.
Daley said the college enrollment numbers again confirm the progress made by Chicago Public Schools.
In 2004, when CPS first began tracking how many of its graduates enrolled in college, 43.5 percent of former students enrolled in a post-secondary institution. The 10.9-point CPS increase since then far outpaces the national increase of 3.4 points.
Included in the new data is a significant jump in the number of Latino and African American students enrolled in college, groups which in the past have been less likely to go on to college than their peers.
In 2004, slightly more than 34 percent of Latino students were going on to college. For the Class of 2009, this number has climbed to more than 46.6 percent. The increase is being led by male Latino students, whose post-secondary enrollment has risen 13.4 percentage points since 2004. These young men have pushed the overall Latino rate up by 12.2 percentage points in the last five years.
Also in 2004, less than 43 percent of CPS African-American students were going on to college -- 18 percentage points behind black students in the rest of the country. Since 2004, CPS African-American females have showed a 12.3 percentage point increase and African-American males an 11.4 point increase. For the CPS Class of 2009, 54.9 percent of African-American graduates went onto college.
As the CPS graduating class of 2009 increased its college-enrollment rate by 1.9 percentage points over the previous year, the enrollment rate for the nation as a whole went up by only 1.5 percentage points, from 68.6 percent to 70.1 percent.
“We want our students to know that post-secondary education is not only for straight-A students but is increasingly necessary for a wide range of careers, especially as the economy becomes more global,” said Mary Richardson-Lowry, president of the Chicago Board of Education.
CPS has increased the options for students in the academic middle, including offering more Advanced Placement courses at neighborhood high schools. The academic rigor of these courses prepares students for college requirements and in some cases can help drive down the cost of college for students who place out of entry level courses based on their AP scores.
The district also supports an innovative program of college coaches, who supplement counselors in working with students to reach for, and apply to college.
Daley said that a high school diploma either prepares a student for the “middle skill” occupations – jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree -- or it sets them on the road to the college degree that’s essential for so many professions.
“We have no more important job than making sure we provide every child with a quality education that allows them to achieve their full potential and prepares them to join the workforce of the 21st Century,” the Mayor said.
Daley said that at the interfaith breakfast, faith-based leaders re-committed themselves to the critical effort of ensuring that all of the City’s young people are in school and ready to learn on the first day of classes.
He said the first day of school sets the tone for the entire year, that it is important for the students, because they have to be in class every day in order to keep up, and important to taxpayers, because daily attendance affects state funding.
He reminded parents, guardians and students that they need to get ready for school, which often means getting shots, having a physical exam, gathering medical records, buying school supplies, uniforms, and books.
The Mayor said parents should contact their schools and make sure their children are registered and review their child’s health records and make sure everything is in order.
“When we join together in a back-to-school effort, we are putting our children first. We must work to ensure that not one child is forgotten, written-off or allowed to slip through the cracks of indifference,” Daley said.
“Let’s make sure that every child is in class and ready to learn on the first day of school,” he said.