California State University, Long Beach
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CSU Continues Focus Of Prepping Students For College Level Studies

Published: February 1, 2011

As part of its overall effort to ensure student success and help students reach their goal of earning a college degree, the California State University (CSU) is focused on preparing students sooner for college level work, including at CSULB.

The system has started implementing a cornerstone of this initiative called Early Start, which combined with the CSU’s ground breaking Early Assessment Program (EAP) test, has the potential to dramatically decrease the need for remediation during a student’s collegiate experience.

“As K-12 educators, we deeply appreciate California State University’s increased efforts to ensure college readiness and success. We are partnering with the university in many ways to make this happen,” said Christopher J. Steinhauser, superintendent of schools for the Long Beach Unified School District. “The Early Assessment Program, for instance, has proved to be an important part of our Academic and Career Success Initiative in Long Beach schools. Already, we’re seeing a significant increase in the number of our graduates who are prepared for college-level work, based upon EAP results.”

Earlier this week, CSU Trustees received an update of the Early Start progress at its board meeting in Long Beach on Jan. 25 and 26.

In March 2010, CSU trustees adopted the “Early Start” policy to help students be better prepared in mathematics and English when they enter the CSU as incoming freshmen. Approximately half of CSU’s regularly admitted freshmen are not proficient in math and/or English and are required to take developmental courses during their initial year of college. CSU estimates it spends $30 million annually on remediation, and it often results in students falling behind their classmates as they attempt to complete CSU degree requirements.

Under Early Start, beginning in summer 2012, students who are not proficient in math or “at risk” in English will be required to demonstrate they have started the remediation process prior to enrolling at a CSU campus. However, students will be allowed to enroll even if they still need some remediation following this initial effort.

There will be many options available to students, including taking additional math or writing classes during the senior year of high school, taking an on-line refresher course or attending remedial classes at a community college.

Since its adoption, all 23 CSU campuses have been working to develop their individual Early Start campus plans, which have identified innovative best practices including:

  • Expansion of existing summer Early Start programs such as Summer Bridge;
  • Increased use of on-line learning for students who are almost proficient;
  • Expanded use of Early Assessment scores to encourage high school seniors to become proficient in math and English prior to attending the CSU;
  • Additional collaboration with California Community College partners and local high school faculty.

The final stage of Early Start in English for all students who have not demonstrated proficiency is expected to take place by summer 2014.

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A key to the success of the Early Start initiative is the continued expansion of CSU’s Early Assessment Program test that high school juniors can take to determine if they are ready for college level work in math and English. The EAP is administered as a voluntary part of the California Standards Test (CST) taken statewide by students in the 11th grade. By receiving results prior to their final year of high school, students can make better use of both their senior year of high school and the summer prior to their freshman year to prepare for college.

“In Long Beach the EAP is taken by nearly 98 percent of all high school juniors and has significantly impacted the rigor of their senior year education,” reported CSULB President F. King Alexander. “In fact, during the last three years alone, we have seen an increase in students directly entering postsecondary education from approximately 66 percent to 73 percent. This also means that more of our local students are ready for their collegiate experiences.”

Statewide, more than 1.7 million students have taken the voluntary EAP test since its implementation in 2006 with 84 percent of eligible students (378,870) taking the English test in 2010. Additionally, proficiency rates have also shown steady improvement with students demonstrating a marked increase in English proficiency over 2009 results.

EAP testing is not limited to CSU-bound students as 2010 marked the first year that students were also able to authorize the release of their EAP results to California Community Colleges for use in placement.

An additional element of EAP is professional development for high school teachers and other educators to inform them about college readiness and strategies designed to prepare students for success in college. The Expository Reading and Writing Course (ERWC) workshop is offered to high school English teachers, and those participating have reported improved results in their students’ reading and writing skills, increased student enjoyment and motivation in class, as well as improved student outcomes.

Similar professional development programs have also been created for math teachers.

For more information on EAP testing, visit its website.