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More Students Graduating From Chicago High Schools Are Enrolling in College

As high school graduation rates improve in Chicago Public Schools, new research finds that college-going rates are also inching up.

About 14 percent of public school 9th graders in Chicago will earn a bachelor's degree within six years of graduating from high school, up from 8 percent in 2006. The national degree attainment rate is 18 percent, while it is 11 percent in New York and 4 percent in Baltimore.

The increase can be linked to improving high school graduation rates, which have grown by 15 percentage points in recent years, to 73 percent this year, according to the report released by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research on Tuesday.

Also, student performance on the ACT has grown from an average composite score of 17.6 test-score points to 18.4 points between 2006 and 2014, as participation increased. Still, the report notes, many students graduate unprepared for college and nearly half of Chicago graduates scored below 18 on the ACT.

Too often, students from Chicago schools are enrolling in colleges that have low institutional graduation rates, hurting their chances of success, the researchers said. Nearly 40 percent of graduates attend colleges where six-year graduation rates are below 50 percent. The success rate is also low in light of a recent university survey that indicates that 75 percent of Chicago students report they want to obtain a four-year degree.

"CPS has succeeded in getting many more students through high school and into college, but there must be commensurate focus on ensuring students who enroll earn college degrees," said Jenny Nagaoka, a deputy director at the consortium and a co-author of the report, in a press release.

Earlier this year, the consortium released data showing that the district's focus on keeping 9th graders on track with early warning systems and intervention was helping reduce dropout rates.

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