Percentage of Freshmen's Proficiency in English and Math Increases After Completing Courses at CSU

Proficiency levels of California State University freshmen in 2000-01 completing math and/or English remedial courses prior to their sophomore year increased to 81 percent, a 2 percent gain, according to data released to the Board of Trustees on Jan. 30.

Ninety-seven percent of CSU fall 2000 freshmen who returned in the fall of 2001 were proficient in math and English. That very positive percentage highlights the benefits of remedial education courses offered by campuses.

As for freshmen entering in 2001-02, the proficiency levels in both English and math remained almost constant at 54 percent, a minor change from the previous year's scores, which showed that 54 percent of incoming students were proficient in math and 55 percent were proficient in English.

"These data underscore the need to assess student proficiency in English and mathematics earlier in high school," said David Spence, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer for the CSU. "We are working with the State Board of Education to use the California Standards Test in English and math in the 11th grade for CSU placement. If students cannot demonstrate proficiency, high schools have the opportunity to work with these students during their senior year."

The report also shows that 62 percent of all first-time freshmen regularly admitted in fall 2000 needed remediation in English and math. Among those, 11 percent did not complete remediation and were disenrolled, and 4 percent left the university on their own without completing remediation.

In 1996 the CSU trustees created a policy to address the large number of students in the upper one third of their graduating high school senior class unable to demonstrate proficiency in English and mathematics and called for annual reports. The trustees' goal is to increase proficiency of entering freshmen to 90 percent by 2007.

As part of the policy implementation, the CSU has developed several collaborative initiatives with the K-12 system designed to increase student proficiency. They include communicating the university standards and expectations to students, parents and high schools; making more CSU student tutors and faculty available to high schools to work with teachers and to mentor students; testing all admitted students before enrollment to ensure that those who need remedial education take courses during the summer prior to entering CSU or during the first term; and increasing the number of summer remedial education programs.

In 2000-01 CSU allocated $9 million to campuses in its Collaborative Academic Preparation Initiative Program (CAPI) to work with 172 high schools that send the CSU the most students needing remedial education. The program aims to help schools develop students' English and mathematics skills while in high school, thus eliminating the student's need to enroll in remedial courses in college.

As part of this program, 187 CSU English and mathematics faculty members worked with 2,457 high school counterparts to develop more effective methods to teach these subjects to high school students.

"Students receiving these academic outreach services are still in high school. Therefore, we expect to see increased numbers of these students demonstrating proficiency upon entry to the CSU," said Spence.

For more information on proficiency of CSU freshmen, please go to Proficiency Statistics.

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Last Updated: 30 January 2002

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