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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 preparatory curriculum.

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.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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