Efforts Cause Surge in CSU, UC-Approved CTE Courses


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More high school classes could become A-G

News Editor Javier Panzar talks to reporter Sara Johnson about a proposal from the UC Regents to give more career based and technical high school courses A-G accreditation.

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Thanks to a decade-long effort by secondary and higher education leaders, the number of career and technical education courses in state high schools that satisfy UC and CSU admission requirements has skyrocketed since 2001, potentially increasing the percentage of high school students eligible for admission to both state systems.

On Thursday, the UC Board of Regents was presented the latest figures on the effort and updates from a May conference between state, high school and UC leaders, aimed at continuing the development of courses that fulfill admission requirements. According to a UC Office of the President report, 258 CTE courses fulfilled the requirements in 2001. Today, over 9,000 are approved for the requirements.

The effort could expand the pool of high school students eligible to attend the systems. In 2008, only 33.9 percent of graduates fulfilled the course requirements, meaning over half of high school graduates in California were ineligible to attend either university system.

In order to be eligible for admission, high school students must complete a certain number of approved courses in each of the seven a-g requirements, ranging from two years of history to one year of visual and performing arts.

At the meeting, Regent Sherry Lansing said the effort "will engage our students and will increase potential job opportunities."

"We know a number of students have trouble passing the typical algebra 1 course," said Don Daves-Rougeaux, associate director of undergraduate freshman admissions, articulation and eligibility at the UCOP. "These integrated courses are going to fuel a student's interest."

He added that students in these courses will see the relevance of the subject by being more engaged, leading to retention.

"I really think you learn in your head and in your hands," said Karen Melander, who teaches an architectural design class at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco.

Troy Flint, spokesperson for the Oakland Unified School District, said making CTE classes fulfill the requirements allows students to explore areas of interest without preventing them from being eligible for college.

He said starting this fall, the district will require all incoming students to complete the a-g requirements in order to graduate.

"We feel it is important for students to have vocational training," Flint said. "But at the same time, we don't want to box students in."

Anya Gurholt, the education academy director at Skyline High School in Oakland, said applying for a-g credit for her education courses allowed her to create courses that prepared students for college as well as a career.

Daves-Rougeaux said there are "high stakes" for the courses receiving a-g credit, adding that in a time of statewide financial strain, classes without approval are vulnerable to cuts.

"At our school, if a class doesn't get the a-g, the kids don't take it," Melander said, adding that enrollment in her class soared after gaining approval.

According to the UCOP report, 32.4 percent of all CTE courses in public high schools statewide met the a-g requirements for the 2009-10 school year. During the same year, 43.4 percent of all courses in public high schools statewide met the requirements.

Daves-Rougeaux said the goal is not to have all CTE courses be a-g approved, but rather to have the percentage of CTE courses that meet the requirements match the number of total approved courses.

Though the increase in approved courses may lead to a larger pool of eligible students, both the UC and CSU systems have reduced the number of spots available for this fall's entering freshman class. Still, officials said they aim to give more students options after high school - be it college or entering the workforce.

Daves-Rougeaux said though the UC system is currently over-enrolled, they still want to increase the pool.

"At the end of the day, while we know our ability to admit students is limited ... the student will have a choice once they graduate," he said.


Contact Sara Johnson at [email protected]

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