More CPS Freshmen Earn College Degrees

Study Says 14 Percent Earn 4-Year Degrees

In 2006, the Urban Education Institute's Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) estimated that of 100 freshmen from Chicago Public Schools, only 8 percent would earn a four-year college degree by age 25. In a new report, CCSR says an estimated 14 percent of ninth-graders will earn a bachelor's degree in the same time frame.

View a graphic comparing the degree attainment index, which is CCSR’s estimate of how many CPS freshmen will earn a bachelor’s degree by their mid-20s, for 2006 and 2014. 

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Nationwide, an estimated 18 percent of ninth-graders will earn a four-year college degree by the time they're 25 years old.

This research is from the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago and shows, while Chicago falls under the national rate, it's still ahead of other larger urban districts like New York City, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Researchers say part of the reason for the increase is because more CPS students are graduating high school and enrolling in four-year colleges.

One researcher says while CPS has done a good job of using data to help more students graduate and get into college, 14 percent is still not enough.

When you factor in the fact that some students enroll first in a community college before going on to get their bachelor's degree later, that 14 percent becomes 17 percent.

These numbers are based on an index -- a calculation based on high school graduation, college enrollment and college graduation rates. These are not actual numbers tracking a class of ninth-graders.

According to the CCSR, the increase in degree attainment index is largely due to the increasing rates at which CPS students graduate high school and enroll in four-year colleges. View the charts below to see how those rates have increased.






Both researchers and the school district say everyone shares some responsibility.

Schools say they have made progress in increasing the number of students who're graduating and slight progress in the numbers of students enrolling in college.

But, schools can do more to prepare students, especially with guidance counseling. The report shows students who may be highly qualified are selecting schools with lower graduation rates. So, helping students select the right schools is one thing, but being sure the colleges are “student-ready” is another.

CPS is pleased with these numbers. It's pretty much a doubling of the 8 percent statistic we saw back in 2006.  But CPS recognizes that much more work lies ahead to be able to send more students to college.

Today, CPS announced it's partnering with 14 colleges and universities -- the ones most attended by CPS students -- to reach a goal of increasing the college graduation rate for students to 60 percent by the year 2025.

The idea is that the district and the schools will collaborate to address the barriers to attending and completing college.

View a list of participating colleges.

  • Columbia College Chicago
  • DePaul University
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Illinois State University
  • Moraine Valley Community College
  • National Louis University
  • Northeastern University
  • Northwestern University
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Robert Morris University 
  • Roosevelt University
  • Saint Xavier University
  • University of Illinois – Chicago
  • University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign

View a graph of six-year graduation rates for all CPS four-year enrollees at the top nine four-year universities preferred by CPS graduates from 2006-2012. 


Watch an interview with Greg Darneider, Senior Advisory to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the College Access Initiative.

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