School District Requirements for College-Ready Students Don't Meet College Standards

Categories: Education
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Wait a minute! This doesn't add up!
This year's going-back-to-school story has been that San Francisco public high schools are now requiring all incoming ninth graders to complete the 15 courses required for admission to the University of California or California State University systems. Known in education circles as the A-G requirements, that means four years of English, three years of math, and two years of a foreign language.

Yet don't count on a massive spike in San Francisco public school kids heading to U.C. Berkeley just yet.

There's a catch: The school district only mandates the students to pass the required courses -- meaning to nab a D or higher -- not earn the C's that the state university systems require. In other words, the San Francisco Unified School District's new state university-ready standards ... don't meet state university standards.

Not only do both the UC and CSU system mandate that students earn C's in the required courses, CSU requires students to have a 2.0 grade point average (that's a C) to be considered for admittance. The U.C. system is tougher, requiring students to earn a 3.0 GPA (that's a B average). And that's just to qualify: "One thing to consider its really competitive at some of the campuses," says Ricardo Vasquez, spokesman for U.C. Office of the President. "A lot of our students take more than just the minimum number of courses."

But SFUSD officials say the focus for now is getting all high schools to offer the college-bound coursework -- and enough sections of the classes -- for all students. Before, students and their counselors had to take it upon themselves to make sure the kids were taking the right classes to get into college; that meant only 49 percent of the students were actually graduating with the required classes.

This move was undertaken "So people don't get to 12th grade and say, 'You mean I don't have the coursework to be eligible?'" says district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe.

She says the district may eventually crack down and require students to get a C in the courses to graduate as well. But she notes the district is also trying to not prevent students from graduating. "We don't want to be part of closing any doors." 

Still, students are being well-educated that sliding by with a D in these new required classes will not cut it on a college application, Blythe says. Hopefully that means there will be no surprises come senior year.

So, students, the best advice to get into college is the same as it's always been: Show up for class, earn good grades, and leave the pear pipe alone.

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