Study finds California prepares
too few students for four-year college
By Angela Hokanson, Bay City News Service
March 22, 2006
California sends a smaller percentage of its high school seniors
to four-year colleges than any other state in the country with
the exception of Mississippi, according to a University of California
study released today.
Researchers said they found the state has a "poor"
record in preparing its high school students for enrollment in
four-year colleges and universities. The study was conducted by
UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA),
and the University of California All Campus Consortium on Research
for Diversity (ACCORD).
Across the state, only 26 percent of the students who started
high school in 2000 were ready in 2004 for four-year colleges,
according to the study.
The "2006 California Educational Opportunity Report,"
details three main obstacles at California high schools that prevent
more students from enrolling in four-year college programs.
These "roadblocks" include: lack of access to college
preparatory classes, a lack of high school counselors, and a lack
of a sufficient number of teachers, specifically teachers who
are certified to instruct in the subject matter they are teaching,
the study's authors reported.
High schools that face any of these roadblocks will not excel
at sending students to four-year colleges, but high schools that
have all three of these deficiencies will face severe problems
in preparing their students for college, said John Rogers, associate
director of IDEA.
One-eighth of all the high schools in the state face all three
of the roadblocks described in the study.
The report's authors found a "very strong relationship"
between the college preparatory infrastructure -- which includes
classes, counselors, and teachers -- present at high schools,
and the percentage of students that enroll in four-year colleges.
The ratio of high school counselors to students is worse in California
than in any other state in the country, Rogers said. And less
than half of the state's high schools provide sufficient college
preparatory classes for students to complete the necessary college
The "root cause" of these obstacles is too little spending
on public education by the state, said Jeannie Oakes, director
of IDEA and UC ACCORD.
While obstacles to college preparation are present in school
districts across the state, the roadblocks described in the report
are four times as likely to be present in "intensely segregated
minority schools," than they are in "majority white
schools," Rogers said.
The report also compares college preparatory resources across
the state's Assembly districts, and finds differences in the percentages
of students who enroll in four-year colleges across the districts.
The mid-Peninsula region of the Bay Area, for example, spends
more money on public education per student than the state spends
on average per student, and more students in this region enroll
in four-year colleges than in other geographic areas of the state.
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