Two-year city colleges not up to par: Report

A report says the graduation rate at Queensborough Community College in Bayside and La Guardia in Long Island City is 28 percent within six years of enrolling, which is on a par with the citywide average .
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The 28 percent graduation rate at LaGuardia and Queensborough community colleges matches the citywide average and a new report says community colleges in New York City “are not yet delivering on all their potential.”

“In New York City, 28 percent of community college students graduate with an associate or bachelor’s degree within six years of enrolling,” the Center for an Urban Future said.

The report by the public policy think tank said both LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City and Queensborough Community College in Bayside had graduate rates of 28 percent.

Leading the city was Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn at 36 percent, while Hostos Community College in the Bronx and Borough of Manhattan Community College both came in at 26 percent and Bronx Community College had 22 percent.

“Since the start of the recession in late 2007, young people have flocked to community colleges in record numbers,” the report said.

It pointed out that enrollment at the City University of New York’s two-year colleges has grown by 43 percent from a decade ago, with most of the increase occurring in the last few years. The study attributed the rise in enrollment to the realization that an associate’s degree is now a basic requirement for a decent paying job.

“Unfortunat­ely, community colleges are not yet delivering on all their potential,” the report said. “Far too few people who enroll at community colleges, both in New York City and across the country, end up graduating or moving on to earn a bachelor’s degree.”

Why such low graduation rates?

“To begin with, community colleges are open-access institutions and they accept whoever applies. A significant number of students already face steep hurdles when they enter,” the report said. “Four out of five must take at least one remedial class. Three in 10 are working more than 20 hours a week to earn a living.”

Some critics of the New York City public school system contend that too many high schools allow students who are not ready for college to graduate.

In the latest high school progress reports compiled by the city, only 18 percent of the high schools in Queens had a 50 percent or higher college readiness index, which measures the percentage of graduating students who score high enough on their Regents to test out of remedial coursework at the CUNY.

Graduation rates from the borough’s high schools are up, however, and supporters of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s education policy hail the trend as a turnaround from earlier years when many of those schools were known as drop-out factories.

Failure to graduate also has serious economic consequences, the report said.

“We estimate that increasing graduation rates at New York City’s six community colleges by just 10 percentage points for the class that entered in 2009 would provide a $71 million, one-year boost to the city and state; a $16 million boost in annual earnings of which $2.1 million would go to the city and state in tax revenues,” the report said.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-260-4536.

Posted 12:00 am, December 3, 2011
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