Chicago City Colleges Fudges Its Numbers about Graduation Rates
A few years ago the Chicago City Colleges splashed all over the media its fantastic new program called Reinvention which would increase the graduation rate by partnering up with businesses and focus on developing entrepreneurs for the future.
And we here at Chicago News published a story taking a critical look at the opaque program after a similar program turned out to be a spectacular failure in New York.
Well, in this case the NY chickens came home to roost in Chicago after an investigation by the Better Business Association or BGA and Crain’s Chicago Business revealed that the City Colleges of Chicago issued thousands of degrees after lowering credit-hour requirements and watering down education standards in what they called an attempt to manipulate the data in order to boost the City College’s reputation.
The report stated that from 2011 to 2016, the number of degrees given out doubled and the graduation rate increased from 7 percent to 17 percent in the five years.
Nowadays, the mayor is always bragging how many young people in the city are graduating from the schools. What he doesn’t have to explain is how much is that is real. While a few charter high schools stated that 100 percent of their students were accepted to college (they only count their senior class and not the younger ones who are either kicked out or drop out on their own), the City Colleges have had to offer more remedial classes to students graduating from CPS schools because they do not have the academic skills to take regular college classes. Many then drop out.
In this case, while graduation rates increased, enrollment dropped, a whopping 35 percent drop and a 25-year low, according to the investigation.
Just like we profiled in NY, these numbers were used by the city’s higher brass to brag about its so-called higher-education success story.
The City Colleges made it easier to graduate. They lowered the required amount of credit hours for general education course requirements from 30 to 20 and got rid of math requirements, and classroom credit-hour requirements were lowered from 21 to 15 hours, according to Illinoispolicy.org.
They even awarded degrees to people who had left the school years ago without one, and posthumous degrees unbeknownst to the deceased students.
City Colleges is made up of seven campuses all over the city. While the City Colleges’ purpose has been to serve lower-income students via affordable classes and adult education classes, suddenly the city’s business class has something much more grand to offer.
“The C2C program forges partnerships between City Colleges and industry leaders to better align City College’s curricula with the demand in growing fields,” their website stated a few years ago. “These partnerships provide City Colleges’ students access to real-world experience via teacher-practitioners, internships and top-notch facilities, and offer City Colleges’ students and graduates a first pass at job opportunities.”
In other words, who needs to teach students how to fix cars or work in a beauty salon or learn English, now they will be working in the wonderful high-tech world that Chicago is positioned to be the leader in.
However, their new degrees offered few career paths for graduates and provided questionable standalone value to employers, Illinoispolicy.org stated.
That was exactly the problem in New York. The same splashy reinvention project to team up the state college system with businesses provided lucrative tax credits for companies, but questionable economic benefits for the state, and much fewer jobs than promised.
Even the City Colleges agreed that the whole program was a lie. While Illinoispolicy reported that they called BGA’s research “completely false,” they did not dispute the accuracy of the data used in the report.
Professors and students were very upset about the plans to reform the City Colleges because it meant cuts to the regular bread-and-butter programs that serve the students and more wasteful spending on high-priced consultants. This year the mayor removed Cheryl Hyman as chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago who for seven years oversaw the “reinvention” disaster, and replaced her with Juan Salgado.
And no recent splashy announcements from the mayor about the amazing success of the City Colleges – a sign that things might be getting better for the students it’s supposed to serve!