March 18, 2009
Since August, the Department of Education has been quietly swapping data about its graduates with the City University of New York, under an information-sharing agreement that Mayor Bloomberg boasted today is the first of its kind.
Under the terms of the agreement, the mayor explained at a press conference this morning, CUNY sends performance data to high schools about their graduates enrolled in city colleges. In exchange, the DOE shares the students’ high school records with CUNY. The purpose of the swap is to gather new information about what it takes to prepare high schoolers for success in college, a looming question in a city where a growing number of public school graduates enrolling in CUNY’s two-year schools need remedial instruction.
“I don’t think anybody before has even thought about crossing that barrier,” Bloomberg said, referring to the separation between public schools and college and universities.
Bloomberg’s remarks came at a press conference about the growing number of public school students who are enrolling at CUNY colleges. At the event, which took a dramatic turn when a Lehman College student who was standing beside the mayor fainted, Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said the CUNY enrollment surge is evidence that the city’s public schools are improving, particularly for minority students.
Matthew Goldstein, chancellor of the CUNY system, said students are attracted to the city’s public colleges and universities both because of their low price tag, currently $4,000 a year, and because the system has improved in recent years. Klein said Goldstein, in his 10 years as chancellor, has “restored CUNY to one of the truly great universities.”
Public school graduates now make up nearly three-quarters of CUNY’s 250,000 students, who are spread over 23 campuses in all five boroughs. Since 2002, the number of public school graduates enrolling at CUNY community colleges has risen by 70 percent, while the number of students from other schools has actually fallen. And at the four-year colleges, which admit students selectively, 37 percent more public school graduates enrolled last fall than in 2002. During the same time, the city’s high school graduation rate rose by 11 percent, according to the way the city calculated its graduation rate until last year.
The rise in enrollment is proof that the city’s schools are producing more graduates who are prepared for college, Bloomberg said, noting that the trend is especially true for Hispanic students, whose enrollment boost at CUNY colleges has outpaced the system’s overall growth.
Yesterday, the DOE released a report touting improved student achievement among students classified as English language learners, of whom nearly 70 percent are native Spanish speakers. The performance of immigrant students was also a contentious topic at Friday’s mayoral control hearing, held at Lehman College just one floor away from today’s press conference.