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High school early assessment helps to improve college readiness

POSTED September 13, 2011 9:51 p.m.

California State University Chancellor Charles Reed announced Monday that over the past six years there has been an increase in the number of high school students ready for college level English and math.

While many forms of testing exist and requirements for admission into the CSU system have long been in place, Reed said that in the past even “B” average high school students have not been ready for college level math and English. Amongst many causes, Reed pointed to the 12th grade as one of the main causes for detritions in college readiness.

In 2004 a partnership between the California Department of Education and CSU helped to establish the Early Assessment Program, or EAP.  The EAP is designed to bridge the gap between high school standards and college expectations through early testing, the opportunity for additional college prepatory math and English classes in grade 12, and professional development activities for high school teachers.

“We really want to encourage students to not waste 12th grade. The 12th grade is the biggest wasteland in America,” said Reed.

The EAP test is administered during the California Standardized Test in grade 11. Should a student fail to pass the voluntary test, Reed said they are encouraged to take additional classes for college readiness in their senior year and even in the summer before their freshman year in college.

Last school year 81 percent of all high school juniors statewide participated in the voluntary EAP. Of those juniors 22 percent were considered “college ready” in the English portion of the EAP. In 2004 only 15 percent of juniors were college ready.

In the mathematics portion of the EAP 80 percent of all juniors participated in the EAP and 15 percent were college ready, which was a 3 percent increase since 2004. The mathematics portion of the EAP is further divided into two categories — algebra II and summative high school mathematics. Of the juniors who elected to take the algebra II section, 8 percent were college ready, and of the juniors who took the summative section, 23 percent were ready.

“I can say high school students in California are moving in the right direction, we are seeing a slightly less number of students who need remedial work in college,” said Reed.

Despite the recent gains in college readiness, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said all of these statistics point to a growing concern for the future of California business and economic interest.

“We know our economy has been increasing its demands for college degrees and by 2025 our state will be one million degrees short of the need,” said Torlakson.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail jmccorkell@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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