Where diploma dreams go to die

Outside of its elite private institutions, Chicago is the The City Where Diploma Dreams Go to Die, writes Kevin Carey of Education Sector. Chicago State is at risk of losing accreditation because so few students earn a degree: The six-year graduation rate is 13 percent; after eight years, that rises to only 27 percent.  Other Chicago colleges also have trouble educating poorly prepared students:

The graduation rate for black students at Northeastern Illinois University, in Chicago, is 4 percent. Even the Chicago branch of the University of Illinois graduates fewer than half of its students in six years.

These are Arne Duncan’s students washing out of college, Carey notes.

Since becoming secretary of education, Duncan has repeatedly denounced the “dropout factories” in urban school systems, high schools that routinely fail to graduate most of their students. What about the dropout factories in higher education? They serve the same students in the same places, and are performing even worse.

To its credit, the Obama administration has proposed spending tens of billions of new dollars on Pell Grants, community colleges, and an Access and Completion Fund. But as now designed, those reforms won’t be nearly enough to turn things around in cities like Chicago.

Many colleges receive accreditation despite dismal graduation rates, Carey writes. There’s no sense of urgency to close failing colleges. Chicago State probably will survive. The standards are very, very low.

Illinois defines proficiency at a below-basic level by national standards. So many students were failing the eighth-grade math test that officials lowered the passing bar from the 67th to the 38th percentile in 2006, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Not surprisingly, failure rates soar in high school, when students take a test linked to the ACT.

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Comments

  1. They don’t fail in high school or college, they fail many years earlier, when the schools COULD tell the parents the truth – your child can’t read or do math on grade level – but won’t, for fear of losing their job.
    Instead, the students are passed along.

  2. Cardinal Fang says:

    “The six-year graduation rate is 13 percent; after eight years, that rises to only 27 percent.”

    Those statistics jump out. The eight year graduation rate is over *double* the six year graduation rate. That suggests to me that the students are not hopeless, or at least not all of them are hopeless. Rather, they are unprepared, and probably working their way through college. It’s taking them longer than four years, but a quarter of them are getting through. I wonder what the ten year graduation rate is.

    Given the students they are educating, who are mostly poor and underprepared, what are other colleges doing to get a better graduation rate?

  3. Cardinal Fang says:

    “These are Arne Duncan’s students washing out of college, Carey notes.”

    Not really. Duncan became CEO of the Chicago public schools in 2001. These six-year graduation numbers are for students who started college in 2002 and failed to graduate by 2008. In other words, these students were high school seniors by the time they were under Duncan’s purview.

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