Student Scores on Upswing

CPI Keeps Boosting Freshman Levels

The College Preparatory Initiative (CPI) is continuing to improve the academic preparation of students entering CUNY. Incoming freshmen enrolling in the Fall 1995 semester had completed more academic units than ever, and their achievement test scores also reached new highs.

Simultaneously, CPI gained the support of the third Schools Chancellor, Dr. Rudolph F. Crew. The new Chancellor attended the Dec. 11 CUNY Council of Presidents meeting and affirmed his support. CPI was begun during the administration of Dr. Joseph Fernandez and also received the support of Dr. Ramon Cortines.

After CUNY Presidents described their colleges' involvement with the public schools-programs such as on-campus high schools and the Family Colleges at Kingsborough and Bronx Community Colleges-Dr. Crew expressed his interest in a continuing relationship. In particular, he said, the schools may look to CUNY to help them redesign curricula and teaching assignments. He also noted, "The Family College program is a tremendous asset for the Board of Education."

Chancellor Crew's visit came just as CUNY released encouraging CPI results. CPI requires that students entering CUNY from the public schools present a specified number of courses in five academic areas: social studies, sequential math, foreign language, lab science, and English. The requirements are being phased in gradually, with full implementation scheduled for the year 2000.

Since 1991, the year before CPI was activated, the number of incoming freshmen completing four or more units of social studies has risen from 66% to 78%; one or more units of sequential math, from 65% to 83%; two or more units of foreign language, from 63% to 73%; one or more units of lab science, from 55% to 65%; and four or more units of English, from 43% to 65%.

The effect of the tougher standards is reflected in higher scores among first-time freshmen on the CUNY Achievement Tests. Math scores of students entering bachelor's degree programs rose from 66% in 1991 to 77.5% in Fall 1995. On the writing test, the pass rate rose from 42% in 1991 to 49% last semester. The slower progress on the writing exam reflects the growing ranks of non-English native speakers entering CUNY. In the Fall semester, fully 50% of incoming freshmen had been born outside the United States or in Puerto Rico.

As CPI is phased in, scores are expected to climb even higher. Moreover, as they rise, the need for remediation is expected to decrease.