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PR- 126-09
March 18, 2009


New York City High School Graduates Are More College-Ready

CUNY Enrollment Rising at a Faster Pace for Hispanic Graduates of New York City Public Schools

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, and City University of New York (CUNY) Chancellor Matthew Goldstein today announced an increase in the number of New York City high school graduates who are enrolling in CUNY four-year senior and community colleges, and that Hispanic graduates of public schools have outpaced the rising CUNY enrollment overall. This trend parallels the City’s increased high school graduation rate under this administration and reflects that more New York City students are now prepared for college-level work than ever before, even as the admissions process at CUNY schools has become more rigorous and competitive.  About 70 percent of CUNY students are graduates of New York City public schools. This coming fall, CUNY expects enrollments to top 250,000 students, the highest level in CUNY’s history. The Mayor, Chancellor Klein and Chancellor Goldstein were joined at Lehman College in the Bronx by Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott, Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Marcia V. Lyles, and Lehman College President Ricardo Fernandez.

“More students enrolling from our public schools into CUNY colleges is proof that our education reforms are working and that we are preparing our students better for higher education opportunities,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We continue to narrow achievement gaps among our Hispanic, black and white students at all levels, but most important, in high schools where rising graduation rates reflect students’ preparedness for post-secondary work.  Our partnerships with CUNY help to underscore the importance of college-readiness programs and we are providing students with a real shot at having successful futures.”

“We are always looking for better ways to ensure the success of our students through high school, college, and beyond,” said Chancellor Klein. “Our partnerships with CUNY are enormously helpful in creating pathways to college for so many students, particularly those for who have not historically been likely to attend post-secondary institutions.”

“The encouraging results are due to sustained efforts by both CUNY and the New York City Department of Education, including CUNY’s work to raise academic standards and offer portals of entry for all students, and the City’s work, led by Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein, to establish mayoral control and emphasize accountability,” said Chancellor Goldstein. “Today, the partnership between CUNY and the Department of Education is arguably the most comprehensive program of educational collaboration in the country to improve student readiness.”

Hispanic graduates of public high schools have outpaced the rising enrollment overall at CUNY schools, both at four-year senior colleges and community colleges. Since 2002, the enrollment of Hispanic high school graduates at CUNY’s four-year senior colleges has gone up by 53 percent, compared to 37 percent of high school graduates overall. At community colleges, enrollment of Hispanic high  school graduates has risen by 100 percent, compared to 70 percent for public school students overall. Since 2002, the number of black students who enrolled at four-year senior colleges increased by 32 percent, and by 50 percent at community colleges. And since 2002, the number of Asian high school graduates enrolling in CUNY four-year colleges increased by 81 percent, and by 62 percent at community colleges.

This surge in enrollment is particularly impressive at CUNY’s eleven senior colleges, seven of which grant baccalaureate diplomas and only accept students who are ready for college-level work without the need for remedial instruction, and four of which grant baccalaureate and associate diplomas. The enrollment growth at senior colleges comes even as academic standards have risen at CUNY, which eliminated remedial instruction from its Bachelors degree programs in 1999, and has been raising admissions standards since then. CUNY has attracted growing numbers of highly-prepared students from the city’s elite public high schools, not only to its Macaulay Honors College, where mean SAT scores reached 1359 last fall, but also more broadly to its baccalaureate programs. The mean SAT score of New York City public high school graduates entering Baruch, Brooklyn, City, Hunter, and Queens Colleges has risen 34 points on average since 2002.  These schools have the highest admission standards and typically draw high academic achievers.

CUNY’s four-year senior colleges enroll a diverse population of public high school graduates. Last fall, the freshman entering class included 4,169 Hispanic high school graduates, as well as 3,754 black students, 3,200 Asian students, and 2,806 white students—almost 14,000 graduates of the New York City public schools in total.  In 2002, this figure was 10,156. Moreover, in 2002, 56 percent of freshmen from New York City enrolling in CUNY senior colleges needed no remedial instruction, compared to sixty-six percent in 2008. Since 2006, when the PSATs were first offered for free to 10th and 11th grade students, the number of students taking the test nearly tripled with black and Hispanic students in the lead; subsequently the number of students taking the SATs has increased by 28 percent.

Graduates of New York City public high schools are also entering CUNY two-year Associate degree programs better prepared than before. In 2002, 18 percent of public school graduates enrolling in CUNY community college needed no remedial instruction. This year, 26 percent needed no remedial instruction, despite more students enrolling in these programs than ever before. Almost 60 percent of first-time freshman students entering CUNY from New York City public schools first enroll in one of the University’s associate programs. Enrollment of New York City high school graduates at community colleges was up 70 percent between 2002 and 2008; Hispanic enrollment in community colleges during the same time period grew by 100 percent.

Consistent with community colleges nationwide, CUNY’s community college programs remain open to any student who has a high school diploma or the equivalent.  Since 2002, total enrollment at the community colleges has risen from 68,044 to 81,538, an increase of almost 20 percent.  Consistent with the University’s 1999 policy, remedial instruction courses are offered at the Associate degree level on a non-credit basis to help address skill-deficiencies.

Department of Education and CUNY Partnerships Improve College-Readiness for New York City High School Students

Chancellors Klein and Goldstein have jointly initiated programs to build on the momentum of rising college enrollments and by addressing the college-readiness of the city’s high school students. Last December the Department of Education and CUNY launched the College Readiness and Success Working Group which works to identify and to provide to schools the predictors of college success. Schools will then be held accountable for improving students’ college-readiness.

Under a data-sharing agreement, the Department of Education sends course, grade, and exam data for its students to CUNY, which in turn shares detailed performance data with the high school principals.  This allows the Department of Education for the first time to track the performance of high school graduates who enroll in CUNY schools, allowing post-secondary data to inform discussions about how well high schools are preparing students for college.

College Now is another partnership between CUNY and the Department of Education that helps students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary for success in college.  In 2006-2007, the program served 29,000 students from more than 300 high schools. Participants have the opportunity to enroll in at least one college-credit course by the time they graduate high school.  In the fall of 2007, 35 percent of CUNY freshmen had participated in College Now while in high school, up from 28 percent in 2002.

Since 2002, CUNY has worked with the Department of Education to develop 11 early college schools. These schools offer a program of study—jointly created by college and high school faculty—that provides the opportunity for students to earn one to two years of college credit by the time they graduate. Approximately 76 percent of students currently enrolled in early college schools are either Hispanic or black, and 69 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.  In June 2008, 598 students graduated from six early college schools with an average of 16 college credits. Of this group, 235 students subsequently enrolled in CUNY colleges in September 2008.

In 2007, as part of the Mayor’s innovative anti-poverty strategy, CUNY and the Center for Economic Opportunity launched the Accelerated Study in Associate Program (ASAP), which increases the availability of support services for community college students and better accommodates their family, work and educational needs.  For instance, participants are able to attend all of their classes at the same time of day or on weekends to accommodate their work schedules.  The program serves approximately 1,000 students and early outcomes are promising with CUNY ASAP students showing higher retention rates, more credit accumulation and higher grade point averages than other community college students.


Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker   (212) 788-2958

David Cantor/Melody Meyer (DOE)   (212) 374-5141

Michael Arena (CUNY)   (212) 794-5685

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