Only 2 percent of Fresno Unified students are considered college ready, according to the latest results from the Early Assessment Program.
The program, overseen by the state Department of Education and California State University, tests 11th-graders in English and math to determine if they are ready for college-level courses.
Data from the 2014-15 school year projects about 98 percent of Fresno Unified students will need to take remedial courses once they get to college if they don’t catch up their senior year.
The Early Assessment acts as a warning sign, allowing CSU to know how well prepared students are for college-level work and giving students a chance to polish their skills before enrolling in college.
Fresno Unified officials say the alarmingly low number is skewed because this is the first year the Common Core standards are a factor, but even before then Fresno Unified lagged far behind the state average.
FUSD spokesman Miguel Arias said the EAP indicator is only one of several that determine if a student is “college ready,” and its main purpose is to intervene on behalf of students sooner rather than later.
“This is considered a baseline year for everybody,” he said.
In 2011 – the latest statewide results provided by CSU – 23 percent of students in California were considered ready for college based on the English assessment, and 15 percent ready for math. Then, Fresno Unified had 11 percent ready for college English and only 4 percent ready for math.
The Fresno Unified school board unveiled the results, as well as other statistics from last school year, at a meeting last week from its Data Dashboard – a wide collection of student achievement based on more than 50 factors. But even trustees seemed shocked by the numbers.
“If you had a quarterback in the NFL with these kind of stats, NFL would stand for ‘not for long,’ ” Fresno Unified Trustee Brooke Ashjian said. “We need to a move it in a big way – not just here and there, point by point.”
Trustee Carol Mills said the number doesn’t correlate with other factors the district uses to determine if a student is “college ready.” For example: nearly 50 percent of Fresno Unified graduates completed A-G requirements – basic high school courses students need to pass before college.
“The bottom line: if a student completes the A-G coursework, they should be ‘college ready.’ If they are not, then FUSD needs to take a hard look at how we are teaching those courses,” she said. “That’s the whole point of the A-G curriculum. Not having every student who completes this coursework be ‘college ready’ is unacceptable.”
More than 60 percent of incoming freshmen at Fresno State have to take remedial courses – meaning they start off a step behind students who are able to hop right into regular classes.
According to the 2011 results, Clovis Unified had 33 percent of students ready to take college English and 23 percent ready for math. At Central Unified, 12 percent of students were ready for English and 2 percent were ready for math. At Sanger Unified, 18 percent of students are ready for college English and 7 percent of students are ready for math.
The Data Dashboard also yielded other alarming statistics, including the fact that 58 percent of students had a D or an F on their report card last school year. There also are wide achievement gaps among minority students.
Black students are 2.5 times more likely to be suspended, and only 2 percent of English learners met or exceeded expectations in English/Language Arts on the Smarter Balanced standardized test.
Graduation rates, however, have increased in recent years, with nearly 82 percent of students graduating on time.
Comparing college readiness
In 2011 – the latest statewide results provided by California State University – 23 percent of students in California were considered ready for college based on the English assessment, and 15 percent ready for math. A look at how Fresno-area districts rated on the 2011 CSU index: