Contacts: Clara Potes-Fellow,, or Claudia Keith,, (562) 951-4806

English, Math Proficiency of CSU Freshmen Remains Steady

(March 13, 2007)—The percentage of high school graduates who entered the California State University ready for college-level mathematics and/or English has remained steady over the last four years, according to the 11th Annual Report on college readiness presented today to the CSU Board of Trustees. 

In fall 2006, 63 percent of entering freshmen were proficient in mathematics, reflecting a decline of one percent from the previous year, and 55 percent were proficient in English, staying exactly the same as in fall 2005.

The CSU and California public schools are still trying to achieve the intermediate goal of 74 percent freshman readiness in mathematics and 78 percent freshman readiness in English, originally set by the CSU Trustees for 2004. As a result, CSU officials believe that there is no realistic likelihood of achieving the Trustees goal of 90 percent readiness in both subjects by fall 2007.

In order to prepare the over twenty thousand high school graduates who annually enter the CSU needing remediation, state education officials, CSU and the public schools developed the Early Assessment Program as a tool to provide 11th grade students with an early signal of their readiness for college-level mathematics and English. The EAP represents the first partnership in the nation in which a higher education system and a public K through 12th system have aligned the standards and tested the students.

“We remain committed to the Early Assessment Program as an excellent strategy to increase the number of fully proficient high school graduates in the long term,” said Gary Reichard, CSU executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “The program has demonstrated the potential to help us define and address key factors affecting student preparation in English and mathematics but more time is needed for its impact to be fully  realized.”

The EAP program includes a proficiency assessment to students on the 11th grade, professional development courses for teachers, and specific courses and web-based tutorials for students to address their proficiency needs  in the 12th grade.”

Fully Proficient Students

Although the percentage of students proficient in both mathematics and English has remained stable over the past three years at about 44 percent, the report mentions notable improvements over a period of 9 years for fully proficient students. In fall 1998, for every 100 freshmen CSU enrolled, about 32 were fully prepared and in fall 2006 for every 100, 44 were fully prepared. The positive change occurred while the numbers of regularly-admitted first-time freshmen have increased by 150 percent – from 28,327 to 43,005. 

Proficiency One Year Later

The CSU has become very successful in helping remedial students achieve proficiency in mathematics and English during their freshman year. The number of students fully prepared for both mathematics and English by the second year of enrollment reached in 2006 an all-time high of 19,734 or 83 percent of those who needed remediation when they entered the university.

Lessons learned by the CSU while helping students become proficient during their freshman year are being shared with the public schools in the joint efforts to improve readiness through the Early Assessment Program.

Graduation Rates

Of the fall 2001 first-time freshman class who were proficient at entry, 69% either received the baccalaureate degree or still were enrolled in CSU in fall 2006.   Sixty-eight percent of fall 2001 freshmen who needed remediation and became proficient within one year either received the baccalaureate or still were enrolled in the CSU in fall 2006. This means that, those students who are successful in remediation during their first year of study succeed and graduate at about the same rate as those who enter the CSU fully proficient.


The CSU has asked most of the relatively small number of students who do not achieve proficiency within one year to go to community college to complete their remediation, with the promise of automatic reentry to the CSU campus when proficiency is established. This policy, however, is not resulting in community college enrollment or in return to the CSU by these students, at a high rate, as anticipated.   
Between 2000 and 2003, only 10 to 13 percent returned to the CSU one year after disenrollment. In addition, the report shows a steady decline in community college enrollment by such students. In 2000, 77 percent of these students enrolled in community college but in 2004 only 34 percent did.

CSU officials are questioning the effectiveness of this disenrollment policy, which may have the unintended consequence of discouraging continuing higher education.

The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 417,000 students and 44,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded about 2 million degrees, about 84,000 annually. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. 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, research and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. See   

Error processing SSI file

Last Updated:March 12, 2007

Error processing SSI file