Proficiency of CSU Freshmen Holds Steady

11th Grade Early Assessment Program begins this spring

(Jan. 28, 2004) – Proficiency in mathematics of first-year freshmen who entered the California State University in fall 2003 remained steady at 63 percent, and English increased from 51 to 52 percent. More importantly, 42 percent of first-time freshmen were proficient in both English and mathematics, an increase of 10 percentage points since 1998 when the CSU began testing proficiency and offering remediation classes on CSU campuses.

“Proficiency has improved significantly but is not reaching the benchmarks set by the CSU Board of Trustees,” said David Spence, CSU executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer. “This year’s results underscore the need for an early assessment program that will assess high school juniors’ readiness for college English and mathematics and the need for additional math and English classes during the high school senior year for those students who aren’t college-ready.”

The proficiency rates for first-time freshmen entering CSU in fall 2003 are far from a mid-point goal set by CSU Trustees for 2004 calling for math proficiency of 74 percent and English proficiency of 78 percent. The ultimate goal is that by 2007 at least 90 percent of freshmen enter the CSU with college-level English and math.

To improve proficiency levels at a faster pace, the CSU, in collaboration with the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, announced last November an Early Assessment Program (EAP) that includes an augmented California Standards Test (CST) in English and mathematics.

Taking the test is voluntary for 11th grade students but it is highly recommended for those who have aspirations to enroll in college. The test will be available to all California high school juniors in spring 2004.

The English augmentation test will consist of 15 objective questions and a writing sample. The additional questions will add about 30 minutes to the CST and the writing test will require an additional 45 minutes. The math augmentation test consists of 15 additional questions that require about 30 minutes to complete. Students can take either the English or math or both.

Augmented tests results will be ready each year in August, and students will know whether they are exempt from taking the CSU English Placement Test and Entry Level Mathematics Exam. Students who do not achieve the exemption will be encouraged to improve their English or math skills during their senior year of high school and will be required to take CSU placement tests upon admission to a CSU campus.

During the 2002-03 school year, about 100 high schools statewide volunteered to participate in the early assessment pilot program. Results of this pilot program will be released in early February.

The CSU also evaluates the progress of first-year freshmen who enter the CSU needing remediation and who take remedial English and mathematics at CSU campuses. Ninety seven percent of freshmen entering in fall 2002 needing remediation and taking math and English at the CSU became fully proficient at the end of their first year in college. The results show the rapid progress achieved by students taking remedial English and math at the CSU campuses.


(Note: For current and previous year proficiency results, please go here.)

The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 409,000 students and 44,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded about 2 million degrees. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. Its mission is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. See www.calstate.edu

Contact: Clara Potes-Fellow, cpotes-fellow@calstate.edu, 562-951-4806


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Last Updated: January 28, 2004

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