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The most obvious avenue for us to improve college readiness is to work with CPS on students skills before they get to City Colleges - since the majority of our students are former CPS students.  We will work to expand the dual credit/dual enrollment of CPS students to increase the number of students taking college level classes while in high school.  We will additionally work to ensure that more college-interested students are encouraged to take additional math before they reach CCC.  

However, for the foreseeable future, we accept that students will be coming to our doors unprepared for the academic rigors of college.  For those students, we will try an amalgam of the best practices we find internally and externally, in research and in the nascent practices of other community colleges.  Some elements we are certain to use include summer bridge programs, learning communities, and more structured pathways.  We will also draw on the Carnegie Foundation work suggesting shorter, more focused non-STEM math pathways.  

Finally, we will work to ensure a broader array of options to students who come to us college ready.  Historically, there has been a stigma against and reluctance to offer these students options in the occupational realm.  However, we would like students to have the choice: if they are seeking quick employment, we would like to offer them admittance into vocational bridge programs built around an I-BEST model.  

Our Vision

  • An institution that tailors outreach to specific high schools and other relevant sources to speed students to completion and transfer or employment
  • An institution that aligns dual credit with our overall strategy for completion and transfer or employment
  • Developmental education courses that are accelerated and only necessary when they provide required skills a student is missing to complete their chosen academic pathway
  • Industry bridges that prepare adult education and foundational students to begin any pathway to a career in that industry
  • An institution with a data driven culture that utilizes drivers, a review cadence with initiative owners, and accountability to meet targets around each area of readiness


Current Initiatives  

Department of College Readiness

CCC is laying the groundwork for a Department of College Readiness to sharpen the organizational focus on this seminal issue and serve as an umbrella for the various initiatives discussed here, as well as future programs.  

Expansion of Dual Enrollment


City Colleges of Chicago has set aside 2,100 seats per year, (100 per college per semester), to provide free college-credit classes to eligible Chicago Public Schools (CPS) high school juniors or seniors. The CPS students earn credit they can then apply towards a degree at City Colleges or many other universities across the country, boosting their confidence and chances of academic success, and speeding their way to a degree. Recruitment is ongoing and interested high school students are advised to talk to their high school counselor about the opportunity.  

Press Release - Mayor Emanuel Lauds City Colleges for Expansion of its Dual Enrollment Program  

CPS Preparation  

CCC is expanding dual credit courses offered on Chicago Public Schools high school campuses. Starting in Spring 2012, the program will roll out to five high schools. It will also offer high school teachers access to and professional development on use of City Colleges placement testing. In the coming years, CCC will expand from math offerings to other general education offerings.  

CCC is strengthening its relationship with CPS to encourage high school seniors to enroll in a fourth year of math designed to minimize the need for remedial coursework at the college level.  

CCC is helping position students for early success by offering preparation for the COMPASS placement exam. In partnership with Chicago Public Schools, members of the Reinvention task forces developed a summer program to prepare recent high school graduates to move more quickly through pre-credit courses. Level UP is a free 5-week quick-start program to provide students with refresher courses in math and English to prepare for the City Colleges COMPASS placement exam. By all measures, the program was a success. Initial Level UP results include:  

  • On average, participating students in Level UP were able to reduce their time spent in remediation by 1.2 semesters.
  • Each Level UP student was able to save an average of approximately $485 (including tuition and textbooks).
  • Overall, 94% of participants experienced at least one level gain in English (reading or writing) and 57% of students were able to experience level gains in math.
  • Level UP enhanced students’ perceptions of their own abilities, and by the end of the five week period, students better understood how English and math are critical to their academic and professional success.

Based on the strong and immediate results, plans are under way to scale this up to benefit students across the system.  

Pilot Results - Presentation to the CCC Board of Trustees on October 6, 2011  

Accelerated Learning  

Among students requiring remediation, there are students who are “closer to the line” of credit courses and could more quickly move into credit coursework.  

Accelerated Learning is designed for remedial students who almost test into college-level math or English courses. They are placed into the college-level course and into a corresponding remedial course, English 101, for example. Students do the college-level work, supported by remedial work where needed. They also benefit from smaller class sizes.   

Accelerated Learning programs in English are in place at Truman College and Harold Washington College. Members of the Reinvention task force are working to develop sections in English for all colleges. Daley College
is planning a math section for Spring 2012.