City Colleges of Chicago Announces Increases in Graduation, Retention and Other Key Metrics Critical to Improving Student Success

Total Number of City Colleges Completers Crossed the 10,000 Mark for the First Time in FY2013, Reaching the Milestone Two Years Ahead of Projections

Chicago, IL – Demonstrating the continued progress of City Colleges’ Reinvention effort, Chancellor Cheryl Hyman announced today that the community college system met or exceeded 20 out of 24 of the key performance metrics outlined in its five-year plan for FY2013. The announcement came with the release of the system’s first annual Reinvention Scorecard, detailing progress on measures from student completion and retention to finances and operations. Among other notable indicators, the Scorecard showed that the City Colleges’ graduation rate has nearly doubled since Reinvention, reaching 13% in FY2013.

“Our Reinvention strategy is about rebuilding our community college system into a best-in-class educational institution that ensures our students’ success with a commitment to accountability and transparency,” said Cheryl L. Hyman, chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago. “By setting and reaching these critical, measurable goals— students graduating at a record rate, increasing the number of credentials awarded, and launching our College to Careers program— we are delivering better real-world outcomes for students who are prepared to go on to further college and pursue a career.”
The total number of City Colleges completers crossed the 10,000 mark for the first time in FY2013, reaching that milestone two years ahead of projections and marking a more than 20 percent increase under Reinvention. The number of degrees is approaching 4,000, compared to an average of 2,000 annually before the Reinvention initiative.

According to a study by national non-profit Complete College America, the longer students spend on their way to a credential, the less likely they are to achieve it, which is why City Colleges is working to decrease the time to completion for its students. City Colleges surpassed its FY13 goals for students achieving 15 and 30 credits within their first year, at 19.8 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively. Fall-to-Spring retention among credit students exceeded the goal by 1.3 percentage points, reaching 67.6 percent. In addition, 42 percent of credit students transferred within two years of degree completion, consistent with the target.

City Colleges works to create seamless transitions for non-credit students into certificate and degree programs, where students can earn credentials of economic value. Successful transitions from remediation work to college-level courses increased to 32 percent, above the targeted 29.8 percent and up from 29.5 percent in FY12. The organization surpassed its goal of transitioning 727 students from adult education to college credit work by more than 250 students. To better support adult education students, City Colleges studied demographic data and significantly expanded its adult education off-sites in FY13, bringing ESL and GED classes into areas of the city with populations in the highest need.

In addition to educational outcomes, career outcomes are a critical measure of the success of City Colleges programs. Through College to Careers, launched by Mayor Emanuel and Chancellor Hyman in December 2011, City Colleges has partnered with more than 100 industry leaders to better align occupational curriculum with workforce demand in fast-growing fields—industries that will create 80 percent of the Chicago region’s living-wage jobs in the next decade. College to Careers programs provide real-world learning opportunities through access to teacher-practitioners and high-tech facilities as well as internships and job interviews. The initiative aims to provide students with meaningful and gainful employment. In FY13, City Colleges met its targets for the proportion of students employed in their area of training at 60 percent and median earnings for those students at $31,200 annually. Since its launch, more than 1,000 students have been placed in a job or internship in a College to Careers field.

In FY13, the district surpassed its goal to hold 3 percent of operating expenses in reserve while launching critical capital investments to support its College to Careers initiative. City Colleges also broke ground on a new Malcolm X College & School of Health Sciences, and a new Transportation, Distribution and Logistics Center at Olive-Harvey College.

The City Colleges of Chicago Five-Year Plan, released in June 2013, was developed over the course of 18 months and included rigorous analysis of City Colleges past performance as well as best practices for community college outcomes. It established five-year targets to be completed by 2018 on a number of critical measures of student success:

• The number of degrees awarded annually will increase nearly 40 percent;
• The number of certificates awarded will increase by more than 15 percent;
• The graduation rate will be at 20+ percent;
• More than two-thirds of students in occupational programs will be employed in their area of training;
• More than half of students will transfer to four-year institutions following graduation;
• A third of new remedial students will advance to college-level work;
• Cut the time to hire in half, down to 120 days;
• Four times as many adult education students will transition to college-level coursework after one semester in GED/ESL; and
• Increase funds raised annually from grants and contracts by a third.

Four key strategies are being implemented to support the achievement of these goals: increasing relevance of certificates and degrees, reducing time to completion, increasing student supports, and strengthening operations.

“We are committed to providing our students with the resources and the high-quality learning environments they need to succeed,” said Chancellor Hyman. “By holding ourselves accountable and measuring our progress toward our teaching and learning goals, we can build a stronger community college system that delivers on its promise to students: providing affordable, high-quality education that truly prepares them for transfer and a career.”

Find more on City Colleges’ Reinvention and Five-Year Plan at

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