CSU California Academic Partnership Program

A Brief History


Michael H. Rubin

In the early 1980's, the call for reform of the nation's schools resounded throughout the country. The landmark report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, A Nation at Risk, highlighted "the rising tide of mediocrity" that threatened the schools, the economy, and the nation. Compared to their peers in other countries, the poor performance of U.S. students suggested that American schools must improve to enable all students to reach higher levels of academic achievement. At the same time, larger numbers of students were becoming increasingly dependent on the effectiveness of the schools to prepare them to succeed in this increasingly complex world.

In California, the clamor for reform drew a quick and dramatic response. The Hughes-Hart Education Act emerged in 1983 as the most comprehensive school reform package in California history. The legislation, known as SB 813, granted $800 million in new funds for over 80 public education reforms to increase the length of the school day, and a mentor teacher program, among others.

Collaboration between schools and colleges was recognized as a potentially powerful vehicle for educational reform. MESA (Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement) and CalSOAP (California Student Opportunity and Access), programs founded in the late 1970s, had achieved notable success in promoting educational equity. The effectiveness and vitality of these collaborative student outreach programs suggested to educational leaders that faculty from colleges and universities could work directly with their counterparts in the public schools to influence positively the educational experiences of middle and high school students.

The California Academic Partnership Program (CAPP) was conceived to test the viability of this collaborative model in the service of school reform and educational equity efforts. First established under SB 8, the scope of CAPP was further refined and funded under AB 398 (Hughes) in 1984. The purpose of CAPP, as stated in this legislation, is:

To this end, CAPP provides grants to develop partnerships models focused on improved curriculum, with teams of faculty and administrators from schools and colleges working together to improve the secondary school curricula so that more students are better prepared for college. CAPP activities center on the development of partnerships in which participants work together as equals to meet students' educational needs, continuation of the partnership does not depend on supplementary funding for continued operation, and significant improvement in the academic performance of all students is the outcome.

Responsibility for administering CAPP was placed with the California State University (CSU) in cooperation with the University of California, the California Community Colleges, and the California Department of Education. A statutory Advisory Committee - whose members are appointed by the heads of the four public educational systems, the California Postsecondary Education Commission and the California Student Aid Commission-was established to recommend policies, procedures, and funding priorities to the CSU Chancellor.

CAPP's Early Years »


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Last Updated: July 05, 2016