More California 11th-Graders Volunteer to Get “Early Signal” of Their Readiness for College

Contact: Clara Potes-Fellow, cpotesfellow@calstate.edu; Colleen Bentley-Adler, caba@calstate.edu; both at (562) 951-4800

(September 20, 2005) - The number of California 11th -graders who volunteered to take the California State University’s Early Assessment Program (EAP) test of readiness for college-level English and mathematics increased in 2005, a possible indicator that fewer of these students may need remediation when they attend college a year from now because they should be better prepared.

In spring 2005, 32,262 more students - a 21 percent increase – took the English test, and 3,786 more students – a 3 percent increase - took the mathematics test. A report was given at today’s CSU Board of Trustees’ meeting on the program.

In all, 46 percent of high school 11th-graders took the English test in spring 2005. An even-higher 69 percent of those students whose programs (course-taking patterns) in high school permitted them to take the math part of the California Standards Test also took the EAP test.

Since CSU draws from the upper one-third of high school graduates, these rates of volunteering for the EAP assessment are welcome results. This is the second year that the EAP test has been administered. The test is part of a long-term plan to get more students ready for college while they are still in high school.

The Early Assessment Program (EAP) was developed by the California State University system in partnership with the state’s public schools and state Board of Education. The program encourages public school 11th-graders to take a test assessing their college readiness in English and mathematics. The test is an augmented version of the California Standards Test (CST) that includes additional English and math questions and a written essay.

“The strength of this program lies in providing those students who want to enter the California State University as first-time freshmen with an early signal as to their readiness to succeed in regular general education classes,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “If they show proficiency early via the EAP assessment, at the close of 11th-grade, they will be granted an exemption from the CSU English and mathematics placement tests. If they are not yet ready for college-level work, students will be encouraged to take classes during the 12th-grade to improve and strengthen their skills.”

In 12th-grade English courses, and in 12th-grade mathematics, or in some instances 12th-grade science courses that have a math prerequisite, students have an opportunity to develop their skills to a level that will avoid placement in remedial classes during their first year in college. In 2004, 37 percent of incoming CSU freshmen required remedial instruction in mathematics, and 47 percent required remedial instruction in English.

The EAP “early signal” is also of value to students planning to attend other universities. CSU’s expectations for performance in English are very similar to expectations in American higher education, so the EAP gives students headed elsewhere a strong signal. In mathematics, CSU’s expectations are higher than at many other American public universities. In short, if students are ready for mathematics at the CSU, they should be ready for virtually any other university’s math expectations.

The California State University is leading the country in the assessment of students prior to entering college by aligning its expectations of first-time freshmen with state board standards. Upon seeing the test results, students, parents and teachers make decisions about course selections for the 12th-grade that will prepare students to take college-level English and mathematics.

An additional key component of the Early Assessment Program focuses on facilitating professional development for K-12 teachers by preparing them to provide instruction in expository, analytical and argumentative reading and writing. It also prepares teachers to align 12th grade math instruction with CSU’s expectations for entry-level students.

“The EAP identifies the students who need additional preparation in English and mathematics and assists the schools in providing that instruction in the 12th-grade,” said Roberta Achtenberg, vice chair of the CSU Board of Trustees and a developer of the CSU’s Graduation Initiative, of which the EAP assessment is a part.

Partners in this effort –State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, the state Board of Education and the California State University—are working to strengthen the senior year of high school by developing new courses and providing professional development for K-12 teachers.

EAP support for high school teachers includes the Twelfth Grade Expository Reading and Writing Course, developed by CSU and K-12 English faculty. CSU campuses and county offices of education across the state are cosponsoring workshops for teachers who would teach the modules to 11th- and 12th-grade students. In 2004-05, 700 teachers were trained and subsequently taught at least two English course modules in their classrooms.

A mathematics committee is working on developing similar professional development options for high school mathematics teachers.

In addition, the CSU offers a Mathematical Diagnostic Test and an English Success diagnostic test, which aid students in their preparation for college-level English and mathematics. Those may be accessed at www.csumathsuccess.org and www.csuenglishsuccess.org.

As shown in the tables below, the number of students who demonstrated college-level proficiency in English and mathematics increased 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively, from 2004 to 2005.

Chancellor Reed and Superintendent O’Connell welcome these modest increases. When more data are in hand, in spring 2006 and beyond, the CSU may be able to say that these increases were the first sign that early assessment in 11th grade, academic intervention in 12th grade, and professional development activities for high school teachers helped students to bring their English and math skills up to college-level expectations.

2005 Test Results
11th-Grade Students Taking the Test Students Who Need to Improve Skills During 12th Grade Students Who Demonstrated College-Level Proficiency
English 185,695 142,043 (76%) 43,652 (24%)
Mathematics 119,338 52,484 (44%) 66,854 (56%)

2004 Test Results
11th-Grade Students Taking the Test Students Who Need to Improve Skills During 12th Grade Students Who Demonstrated College-Level Proficiency
English 153,433 119,717 (78%) 33,716 (22%)
Mathematics 115,552 52,060 (45%) 63,492 (55%)

More information on the EAP program and test results is available on the Internet at http://www.calstate.edu/eap/.

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Last Updated: September 20, 2005

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