English, Math Proficiency of CSU Freshmen Remains Unchanged

Officials expect results from 11th Grade Early Assessment Program, which began last spring

Contact: Clara Potes-Fellow,(562) 951-4800, cpotes-fellow@calstate.edu

(March 15, 2005) – English and mathematics proficiency of high school graduates who entered the California State University as first-time freshmen in fall 2004 did not change significantly compared with the previous year.

Mathematics proficiency has remained steady at 63 percent for the past three years, while English proficiency inched up 1 percentage point to 53 percent.

Approximately, 43 percent of students who entered the CSU in fall 2004 as first-time freshman were proficient in both English and mathematics compared to 42 percent in 2003.

Proficiency in both subjects has improved since 1998, when the CSU Board of Trustees adopted a policy designed to increase proficiency in English and mathematics at the college level. At the time, the CSU found that only 32% of high school graduates accepted as first-time freshman were proficient in both English and mathematics. As a result of several programs put in place by the CSU and multiple efforts by the K-12 community, the results over the last six years have improved about 10 percentage points.

“However, over the last three years, proficiency in English, math, or both subjects combined has reached a plateau and new measures are needed to meet the challenges,” said David S. Spence, CSU executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer.

To tackle the problem in a different way, the CSU worked collaboratively with the California State Board of Education and the California Department of Education to use the California Standards Test (CST) as the foundation for CSU’s Early Assessment Program (EAP). The EAP allows students, their teachers, their parents, and the CSU to know how well prepared the 11th-graders are for university-level work. Moreover, it will give high school students a chance to polish their skills in 12th-grade before enrolling in college.

“We have high hopes for the Early Assessment Program and know it will increase proficiency levels of incoming freshmen,” Spence said.

After 11th-graders take the test, they receive a report indicating whether they have either met the CSU expectations, and are thus exempt from any additional CSU placement tests upon admission to the CSU, or whether they need additional preparation for college-level work. Those who need extra work will have their entire senior year to prepare further. The CSU is working with high schools in developing fresh approaches to the 12th grade English and math classes to ensure they prepare students to meet college expectations.

The assessment was available statewide to all 11th grade students for the first time in the spring 2004. Approximately 150,000 11th grade students completed the English portion and 115,000 students completed the math portion of the EAP. Among those students tested, 33,720, or 22 percent, were assessed as ready to take English courses at the college level. They are exempt from taking the CSU English Placement Test after admission. Of those tested in mathematics, 63,504, or 55 percent, were determined to be proficient. These students are exempt from taking CSU placement test in mathematics and will be able to enroll in college level mathematics upon enrollment in the CSU.

"These results are further evidence of the need to make our high schools more rigorous and to prepare better our students for success," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, who has made high school improvement a top priority of his administration. "The Early Assessment Program is an important tool for informing our high school students of what it will take to succeed in college. While funding for California students lags well behind other states, this program is at the national forefront in the movement to better prepare high school students for college level expectations."

The Early Assessment Test is an augmented California Standards Test (CST) in 11th-grade English and mathematics. CSU and K-12 faculty developed the augmented tests. They made sure that both the California high school standards as well as the CSU placement standards were covered. The faculty added a writing sample to the English CST.

Taking the EAP test is voluntary but highly recommended for those who intend to apply for admission to the CSU.

Spence said that the EAP is the best bet for fulfilling a CSU Trustee policy that calls for 90 percent proficiency of first-time freshman by 2007.

The CSU also evaluated the progress of students who were not college-ready when they entered a CSU campus in fall 2003. Of 22,015 freshmen who were not proficient in English and math in 2003, 18,099 (82 percent) took remedial classes and became fully proficient at the end of their freshman year in 2004.

Of the 3,916 who still needed remediation by fall 2004, 2,428 did not demonstrate enough effort or progress and were not permitted to re-enroll; 1,113 were permitted to re-enroll conditionally, and 375 left their campus on their own decision.

The students not permitted to re-enroll were encouraged to attend community college programs to become proficient so they could re-enroll at a CSU campus.

The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 400,000 students and 42,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded about 2 million degrees, about 82,000 annually. 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

Error processing SSI file

Last Updated: March 15, 2005

Error processing SSI file