[h=1]Officials: 80 Percent Of Recent NYC High School Graduates Cannot Read[/h] [h=4]To Combat Problem, CUNY Starts Low-Cost Immersion Remedial Program[/h] [h=6]March 7, 2013 10:55 PM[/h] NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) â€” Itâ€™s an education bombshell. Nearly 80 percent of New York City high school graduates need to relearn basic skills before they can enter the City Universityâ€™s community college system. The number of kids behind the 8-ball is the highest in years, CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday. When they graduated from city high schools, students in a special remedial program at the Borough of Manhattan Community College couldnâ€™t make the grade. They had to re-learn basic skills â€” reading, writing and math â€” first before they could begin college courses. They are part of a disturbing statistic. Officials told CBS 2′s Kramer that nearly 80 percent of those who graduate from city high schools arrived at City Universityâ€™s community college system without having mastered the skills to do college-level work. In sheer numbers it means that nearly 11,000 kids who got diplomas from city high schools needed remedial courses to re-learn the basics. To meet the needs of the students, City University has launched a special program called CUNY Start. It provides low-cost immersion classes. Sherry Mason teaches a writing class. â€œThey get lost sometimes in the classroom and in CUNY Start we give them a lot more one-on-one attention, small group work. It helps them achieve more in a short amount of time and so theyâ€™re able to get on with their credit classes,â€ Mason said. Nicholas Gonzalez, a graduate of New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn, participated in the CUNY Start program. He said he would never had been able to face college credit classes without it. â€œI was nervous about how hard it was going to be, how much of a change it was going to be from high school,â€ Gonzalez said. â€œI knew I needed to take remedial, If I started right away with credit classes it wasnt going to be so well, so itâ€™s better off starting somewhere.â€ In its defense, the NYC Department of Education said it has raised high school graduation rates by 40 percent over the last seven years. And that the number of students needing remedial courses to do college work has declined slightly â€” by half a percentage point overall.