For every 100 high school freshmen who enrolled in New York City high school in 2007, 66 graduated on time and only 21 graduated ready to do college-level work. For those unprepared grads who then enrolled in CUNY community colleges, where most non-college-ready students go, just 16 percent got an associate’s degree within three years.
This is the bitter context in which Common Core Learning Standards were launched.
These are also the opening stats in the Center for New York City Affairs’ insightful new report, “Creating College Ready Communities,” which lays out the obstacles high school students must overcome on their way to a life after graduation.
Center researchers spent four years in 14 city schools, and came out with a detailed picture of why college-readiness is such an elusive goal.
Among its findings:
- Most students enter 9th grade reading below standards. In the schools the researchers studied in depth, “struggling readers were the norm.”
- Students appreciated how supportive their teachers were, but a curriculum focused on Regents prep was “boring” for students and teachers. One teacher wrote, “Too much energy is spent on short-term passing — and not enough energy on long-term college planning.”
- Many students don’t focus on college until 11th grade — far too late. There are not enough guidance counselors and college planning programs in the middle schools and early years of high school.
- Courses that lead to college-level work were lacking. Only 28 of the 342 schools reviewed offered Algebra 2, Chemistry and Physics. In 46 schools none of these subjects were offered.
“The next mayor will have to do more. He or she will bear responsibility for a deeper transformation of the system, one that succeeds at providing students at an earlier age with much stronger reading, writing and analytic skills,” the report concludes. “Just as important schools will need to become much more effective at college guidance and life skills training.”
The report offers several recommendations, among them a portfolio assessment process that will reward students beyond a Regents-passing level; a systemwide post-secondary counseling curriculum; and more comprehensive involvement by CUNY.