Public Affairs

California State University ‘Early Start’ Program Aims to Help Students Be Better Prepared for College Before Coming to Campus

tweet this button CSU's ‘Early Start’ Program Aims to Help Students Better Prepare Before Coming to Campus

(March 17, 2010) – The California State University Board of Trustees today adopted an "early start" policy to help students be better prepared in mathematics and English when they enter the CSU as incoming freshmen. Beginning in their senior year of high school, students will learn from their results on the  Early Assessment Program about whether they are "CSU ready" in math and English. This information will help them choose from a variety of options to help them to become proficient in these subjects, and allow them to start immediately toward getting ready to start as CSU freshmen.

"The Early Start program will help students address any deficiencies in these areas before they come to the CSU," said Jeri Echeverria, CSU executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer. "Students will have their entire year of high school and the summer to get up to speed. The goal is that more of our students will be completely prepared for college coursework or they will at least have begun working toward full proficiency," continued Echeverria. "Even if students have not made up all of their deficiencies in mathematics or English, they will be admitted. Early Start does not mean we will delay admissions.  It means we want students to address deficiencies earlier."

The CSU plans to utilize its Early Assessment Program test that provides high school juniors with an early signal as to whether they are ready for college level math and English. In spring 2009, 369,465 high school students voluntarily took the EAP, which requires a written essay and 15 additional questions in both the English and math sections of the California State Standards tests. Students admitted to the CSU as first-time freshmen must demonstrate they are ready for college English and mathematics by showing proficiency on the EAP test, passing the CSU’s placement test or by obtaining a qualifying score on the SAT or ACT test.

About 60 percent of first-time freshmen enrolling at the CSU each year do not show entry-level proficiency in these assessments, even though they have earned at least a B average in the required college preparatory curriculum. As a result, many students must attend remedial classes, which do not count for college credit and add cost and time to earning a degree.

Several CSU campuses already offer programs to help boost incoming student skills including math intensive “summer bridge” programs and partnerships with local community colleges to teach such courses on a CSU campus. The Early Start initiative will incorporate best practices on a larger scale system wide.

"Under Early Start, students will get a jump on preparing themselves for college level math and English, and ultimately will make faster progress toward earning their college diploma," said Echeverria.

CSU financial aid offices will also focus on communicating to high school students about the availability of financial aid during the summer preceding their CSU freshmen year, which will be provided as a supplement to aid provided during the regular academic year.

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About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 433,000 students and 44,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded nearly 2.5 million degrees, about 90,000 annually. 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.

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