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Why two-thirds of California middle schoolers may not graduate college

Grades do matter
Grades do matter
Photo by .thana✌ via Flickr Creative Commons

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Seventy percent of ninth graders in California schools today are expected to not finish college.

More surprisingly, even middle school students who may seem academically prepared are falling off course somewhere along the way, according to a new study by the nonpartisan think tank Public Policy Institute of California. 

"The California state standards for graduation are less demanding than what the University of California and California State University systems expect," said EdSource's Mikhail Zinshteyn to Take Two's A Martinez.

Zinshteyn says: "Generally, high schools require one year less of math and English."

In addition, even if a student does pass the basic required class, they do not enroll to the next level. "An example would be passing algebra and not heading into geometry," says Zinshteyn. 

Going forward, school districts across the state are planning on setting their graduation requirements to match those UC and CSU expectations.

"One problem is that some districts accept a 'D' as an acceptable score for graduation," Zinshteyn explained, "while the UCs and CSUs require 'Cs' and up."

Other solutions being considered include a new state law, AB 705, and various reforms at Cal State that intend to overhaul prerequisite courses so that students can take college-level math and English courses from the start, without having to be slowed down by remedial classes.

"System alignment is a mouthful of a concept, but it's just really ensuring high schools prepare their students for the rigors of the UCs and CSUs," says Zinshteyn.


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