Jauary 31, 2014
CHICAGO — The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Early College Initiative with City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) has seen a dramatic increase in student enrollment and achievement since its launch in the School Year 2011-2012 (SY 11-12). This collaborative effort is designed to give college-ready high school juniors and seniors exposure to college-level courses, as well as the confidence to succeed in more academically challenging environments, and the opportunity to earn credits toward a college degree.
More than 2,300 students are expected to benefit from this unique partnership by the end of the School Year 2013-2014 (SY 13-14), a nearly three-fold increase in just three years. The increase is a direct result of a coordinated effort by the Mayor’s Office, Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago to promote and expand opportunities for students seeking to accelerate the path to a college degree.
“Exposing our students early to more advanced, rigorous classes helps prepare them to excel at a competitive college and realize their fullest potential as future community, cultural and business leaders,” Mayor Emanuel said. “The Early College Initiative is part of our larger strategy to invest in the future of our children and ensure every student is 100% college ready and 100% college bound.”
With a projected total enrollment this year of 2,350 students, CPS’ Early College Initiative is moving toward the District’s goal of helping 4,000 students receive college credits by the School Year 2015-2016 (SY 15-16). CPS and CCC are currently working on a growth strategy to meet the District’s enrollment goal, adding dual credit coursework at currently under-represented CPS schools and possibly raising caps on dual enrollment seats at the most in-demand CCC campuses.
"Our collaboration with the City Colleges of Chicago provides students with a head start on earning their college degree while challenging them with more accelerated academics," said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. "By increasing the number of students who have access to rigorous college level academics, CPS is demonstrating our commitment to helping our children build the necessary academic foundation, skill sets, and study habits to succeed in college and a career.”
The Dual Enrollment program allows students to take courses at any of the seven City College campuses, giving them an inside look at the college experience. Students may also elect to participate through the Dual Credit program, enrolling in college-level courses taught by qualified CPS teachers on high school campuses. Dual Credit courses are expected to be available at 38 CPS high schools next school year, up from just five in the program’s initial year.
State law requires high school juniors and seniors interested in enrolling in college-level courses to meet certain benchmarks in the ACT or COMPASS, the placement test for community colleges. Nearly 12,000 high school juniors and seniors became eligible for Early College Initiative in SY 13-14, roughly one-quarter of all CPS students in those grade levels.
Beginning in the summer following their sophomore year, eligible students can take one Dual Enrollment or Dual Credit course each semester until graduation. Students can enroll in both Dual Enrollment and Dual Credit courses at the same time, taking up to 6 college-level courses throughout their high school careers. By the time they graduate, students can earn the equivalent of a full year of college or more without the cost of tuition.
One CPS student is on-track to earn up to 28 semester hours of college coursework before entering college, equivalent to nearly one year of credit and enough to satisfy all of the necessary prerequisites to begin a Registered Nursing program.
“This partnership can help ensure more students come to City Colleges college-ready and fewer need to spend time in remediation,” said City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Cheryl Hyman. “By offering students free and transferable college credits, we help them make a successful transition to college – with more credits and more confidence, but without all the debt – and gain the skills necessary to pursue further education and a career.”
The number of students participating in the Dual Enrollment program on local college campuses nearly doubled in its second year, from 611 in SY 11-12 to 1,199 in School Year 2012 – 2013 (SY 12-13). Participation in the Dual Credit program has grown at a similar rate -- from 205 students in the initial year, to more than 500 the following year, to about 1,000 students expected in SY 13-14.
Successful student enrollment in CPS’ Early College Initiative now enhances a school’s overall performance in the District’s School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP). Beginning this school year, schools receive credit for students who successfully pass Dual Credit or Dual Enrollment course exams, similar to high achievers in Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate studies or students who earn industry-recognized professional certification.
Chicago Public Schools serves 400,000 students in 658 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.