Sunday, 28 February 2021

Sen. Leyva introduces ‘College Access for All Act’

SACRAMENTO – To improve college access and preparation for all California students, state Sen. Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) on Thursday introduced SB 309 to establish a $200 million dollar grant program to ensure that more students successfully complete the University of California/California State University A-G course requirements.

This legislation is meant to help ensure that more California students are eligible to attend a UC or CSU directly from high school.

SB 309 takes a multipronged approach to increase successful student access to the UC/CSU A-G course requirements.

Most importantly – in order to increase the availability of A-G courses – it funds $150 million dollars in access grants to local educational agencies with a UC/CSU A-G completion rate of less than 45 percent of all students.

The measure also funds $50 million dollars in success grants for local educational agencies that have taken on the challenge of incorporating the UC/CSU A-G course requirements into their local graduation requirements, but whose UC/CSU A-G completion remains below 80 percent overall – with an emphasis on directing funding to those students in danger of not achieving the requisite grade of “C” or better in an A-G course, in order to fulfill the promise of UC/CSU eligibility.

The bill also requires parents and guardians, beginning in 8th grade, to be notified and educated on the UC/CSU A-G course requirements and their local educational agency’s own graduation requirements and UC/CSU completion rates.

SB 309 also reemphasizes the requirement of school districts to offer all students a timely course of study that fulfills minimum requirements for admission to the University of California and the California State University, and expands that requirement to charter schools and county offices of education beginning with the 2026-27 school year.

“It is unacceptable that only half of graduating high school students in California meet the coursework requirements to attend a UC or CSU – and even fewer socioeconomically disadvantaged, homeless, English Learner and foster students meet those prerequisites,” Sen. Leyva said. “SB 309 will help ensure that all high school students, regardless of where they may live or study, have the opportunity to take coursework that will prepare them to attend a public university here in California. By leveling the playing field and empowering school districts to better help their students will certainly help to set even more California students on a path to success.”

California’s current statewide high school graduation requirements – dating back to the early 1980s – are out of alignment with the minimum admission requirements to the University of California and the California State University, known as the “UC/CSU A-G course requirements.”

Many local educational agencies have instituted graduation requirements that go beyond the minimum statewide requirements, and some have gone so far as to incorporate the UC/CSU A-G course requirement.

The contrast between the state’s minimum graduation requirements and the UC/CSU admission requirements – as well as variations across local education agencies – creates inequitable outcomes for California students and their eligibility to attend the UC or CSU.

As a result, only half of California high school graduates are eligible for admission to our state’s public universities, and some of the state’s most disadvantaged students are eligible at even lower rates.

According to the most recent data from the California Department of Education, only 50.9 percent of all students who graduate from a California public school meet the minimum requirements to attend the University of California or the California State University.

The numbers are worse for the state’s most disadvantaged students: 42.8 percent for those from socioeconomically disadvantaged families, 29.2 percent for homeless students, 24.7 percent for English learners and just 20.1 percent for foster youth.

Following referral by the Senate Rules Committee, SB 309 will be considered by pertinent Senate committee(s) later this spring.

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