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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #17-58
August 25, 2017
Contact: Bill Ainsworth
Phone: 916-319-0818

Report Shows Eligibility for CSU at an All-Time High, with Latino and African American Students Making Largest Gains

SACRAMENTO—The percentage of high school graduates eligible for California State University (CSU) admission has risen steadily during the past two decades, moving from 29.6 percent in 1996 to an all-time high of 40.8 percent in 2015, with African American and Latino students making the largest gains, according to a report by Research Triangle International (RTI).

During the period of the study (1996 to 2015), the eligibility rate of African American students and Latino students for CSU and UC more than doubled.

Overall, eligibility for admission to the University of California (UC) system also increased from 11.1 percent to 13.9 percent.

The change in eligibility, in addition to California’s growing population, translates into a massive increase in the number of students who qualify for postsecondary education in California.

According to the study, about 46,000 high school graduates were eligible for UC and 114,000 were eligible for CSU in 2007. By 2015, an estimated 60,000 were eligible for UC and 175,000 for CSU.

The study attributed the gains to improved academic preparedness and the increasing high school graduation rate, which has risen for seven consecutive years, moving from 74.7 percent in 2010 to an all-time high of 83.2 percent in 2016.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said the study shows that efforts by educators, parents, students, and community leaders to improve K–12 education are paying off—especially the new Local Control Funding Formula, which provides greater transparency, increases local decision-making capability, and allocates more resources to students with the greatest needs.

“Preparing more high school students to attend state colleges and universities brings many benefits,” Torlakson said. “It provides a lifetime of opportunities for each student, helps our communities by creating more informed citizens, and boosts our businesses by providing more highly educated workers needed to fill jobs in California’s extraordinary economy.”

The report, required by the Legislature, uses results from a recent analysis of high school transcripts and data from the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS).

The RTI report External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) shows that disparities in eligibility among student groups is shrinking significantly:

  • In 2007, the eligibility gap for CSU between white and Latino students was 14.6 percentage points, but it had dropped to 7.9 percent by 2015.
  • In 2007, the eligibility gap between white and African American students was 13.1 percent, and in 2015 it declined to 9.8 percent.
  • From 2007 to 2015, the gap in eligibility for UC between white and Latino students narrowed from 7.7 percentage points to 3.4 percentage points, and the gap between white and African American students dropped from 8.3 percentage points to 5.4 points.

The study covers two decades, but it may also indicate success brought about by the major changes occurring in K–12 education in California.

In recent years, in addition to the Local Control Funding Formula, California has introduced higher academic standards, online testing, and the California School Dashboard, which provides information on multiple measures of progress to help identify areas of strength and areas where schools and districts need assistance. All of these changes are designed to ensure that California’s 6.2 million public school students are ready for college and 21st century careers.

“I want to thank everyone for putting their creativity, talents, and dedication into improving our schools for so long,” Torlakson said. “This is a great indicator that our education system has momentum, inspiring us to continue working together for positive change in education, which I call the ‘California Way.’”

Torlakson also cautioned that much work needs to be done to continue the progress this report shows in K–12 education.

(From the RTI report linked above) Table 2a. Eligibility rates, by year, university system, and student group, 1996–2015:

University of California
  Percent Eligible
in 1996
Percent Eligible
in 2001
Percent Eligible
in 2003
Percent Eligible
in 2007
Percent Eligible
in 2015
All graduates 11.1 14.2 14.4 13.4 13.9
Male 9.7 12.5 12.6 11.2 11.9
Female 12.6 15.8 16.2 15.3 16.1
Latino (a) 3.8 5.5 6.5 6.9 8.5
Asian American (b) 30.0 32.7 31.4 29.4 30.7
White 12.7 16.9 16.2 14.6 11.9
African American 2.8 4.3 6.2 6.3 6.5
American Indian None 8.9 6.6 2.4 6.8

California State University
Percent Eligible
in 1996
Percent Eligible
in 2001
Percent Eligible
in 2003
Percent Eligible
in 2007
Percent Eligible
in 2015
All graduates 29.6 34.1 28.8 32.7 40.8
Male 26.3 28.4 24.0 27.3 35.3
Female 32.9 39.4 33.3 37.6 46.5
Latino (a) 13.4 21.6 16.0 22.5 31.9
Asian American (b) 54.4 52.4 47.5 50.9 64.0
White 36.3 40.0 34.3 37.1 39.8
African American 13.2 20.2 18.6 24.0 30.0
American Indian None 20.1 19.7 12.1 34.7

(a) Latino ethnicity is identified independently of race.
(b) Asian American includes Pacific Islander and Filipino American for historical consistency. A more nuanced look at Asian American subgroups in 2015 can be found in table 2c.

NOTE: Historical information for graduates of unknown race or more than one race was not available. 2015 eligibility information for these groups is available in the appendix. CDE data show an improbable change in the numbers of graduates identified as American Indian in 2015 and, as of publication, CDE is working to confirm the information. If CDE determines the data should be revised, an addendum to the report may be issued if outcomes differ as a result of their findings.

# # # #

Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, February 26, 2019
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