Press Release Education

CSU Makes Sweeping Changes to Developmental Education Policy


Policy changes include expanded use of multiple measures for course placement in the first year, the elimination of non-credit bearing prerequisite courses and a revamped Early Start Program that provides students college credit.


In alignment with the university-wide initiative to improve student success, the California State University (CSU) recently announced progressive policy changes that will improve the way it serves incoming students. These changes especially benefit those who may require enhanced academic support to be fully prepared for university-level coursework. The new policy was crafted with input from faculty, student and campus leaders and codified through executive order. Additional consultation will occur related to the implementation of the policy.

"The California State University is committed to helping all students admitted to a CSU campus achieve their academic goals by allowing them to earn college credit beginning their very first day of class," said Loren Blanchard, CSU's executive vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs. "This suite of changes maintains the quality and rigor of the CSU while enabling tens of thousands of students to get needed academic support while progressing toward their degree."

The new policy changes focus on assessment and placement in written communication and mathematics/quantitative reasoning courses in the first year, dramatically reduces pre-baccalaureate courses that have not provided college credit, and significantly strengthens the university's Early Start Program.

Changes to existing policy include:

Expanded use of multiple measures in the placement of freshmen students

The university will expand its use of multiple measures to assess academic readiness of students. These measures include, but are not limited to, high school grades and GPA, grades in collegiate courses, ACT and SAT scores, Advanced Placement test scores and Smarter Balanced Assessment scores. The CSU's current English Placement Test (EPT) and Entry-Level Mathematics (ELM) tests will be retired.

Revamped Early Start Program

The CSU will strengthen and expand the existing Early Start Program. For students deemed not well-prepared for college-level coursework in math or English, the current CSU policy utilizes the program to offer a required one unit preparatory course in the summer before a student's initial term on campus. Effective summer 2019, campuses will primarily offer credit-bearing general education courses in written communications and mathematics/quantitative reasoning with embedded support as part of the program. ​

Enrollment in general education coursework in written communication and mathematics/quantitative reasoning courses

The CSU will support faculty innovation in developing new credit-bearing course models. Effective fall 2018, the CSU will place students needing additional academic support in appropriate college-level baccalaureate credit-bearing courses. These courses will strengthen skills development to facilitate achieving the appropriate general education student learning outcomes established by faculty. Supportive course models may include, among others, co-requisite approaches, supplemental instruction modules or "stretch" formats that could extend a course beyond one academic term. Additional academic support will now be embedded into college-level courses for students who need it. 

The CSU is the largest and most diverse four-year institution in the nation, enrolling more than 475,000 students across 23 campuses. One in three of these undergraduates will be the first in their family to attend college and more than half of CSU undergraduates are Pell recipients. In 2015-16, more than half of the CSU bachelor's degrees earned were by first-generation college students. Supporting student success at the CSU will provide significant benefits to students and their families and will also contribute to the state and national economy by moving thousands of additional graduates into the workforce and graduate or professional schools. These progressive policy changes are expected to significantly improve credit accumulation in the first year of college, reduce the cost of attendance, and increase the percentage of CSU students who ultimately earn a college degree.

# # #

About the California State University

The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 50,800 faculty and staff and 479,000 students. Half of the CSU's students transfer from California Community Colleges. Created in 1960, the mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity, and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards more than 110,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 3.4 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter.

Early Start Program