A progress report on a three-year-old, local initiative to prepare more youngsters for college success reveals promising results, though education officials cautioned that California’s budget cuts seriously threaten further gains.
Three years ago, leaders from the Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach City College and California State University, Long Beach signed The Long Beach College Promise, committing the three institutions to providing local students with greater opportunities to complete their higher education.
"The College Promise continues to offer upward mobility and a better life for thousands of students and their families," LBUSD Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser said. "But we need help. Budget cuts are hurting our schools and public colleges. California can only improve its economy if we keep alive the promise of educational opportunity."
The progress report highlights key steps that the three institutions are taking to prepare more students for success in college and in high-demand, high-paying jobs. Included in these efforts is a commitment to cover the cost of first-semester fees for every local high school graduate who enrolls directly at LBCC after graduation. The LBCC Foundation has now established an endowment of more than $6 million to pay the enrollment fees.
“Long Beach City College is proud of this important partnership with LBUSD and CSULB,” said LBCC President Eloy Ortiz Oakley. “The Long Beach College Promise has been recognized by the White House for its innovation and commitment to higher education. This partnership is increasing educational opportunities for thousands of local students.”
The Promise also guarantees LBUSD grads admission to CSULB with minimum requirements.
"We are very pleased to continue our efforts in support of this nationally recognized and celebrated partnership," said Cal State Long Beach President F. King Alexander. "We have begun to see the fruits of our collaboration with so many college-eligible students coming out of the Long Beach Unified School District. As we move forward, all three educational enterprises in Long Beach anticipate even greater achievements from our local students.”
The recent report from the three institutions shows:
• LBUSD students’ English and math proficiency rates, as measured by the Early Assessment Program (EAP), improved even as participation rates increased significantly.
• Nearly three of four LBUSD graduates (74 percent) are pursuing post-secondary education.
• LBCC Fall 2010 enrollment of LBUSD graduates increased to 1,674 (up 2.6 percent over 2009, and up 24 percent since 2007).
• LBCC students from LBUSD continue to be much more likely to persist in college.
• More than 500 students have received Long Beach College Promise scholarships through the LBCC Foundation and Long Beach Rotary.
• CSULB continues to guarantee LBUSD graduates admission with minimum requirements. Admissions for LBUSD graduates have increased by more than 80 percent since 2007.
• LBUSD graduates attending CSULB successfully complete English and math remediation at a higher rate than other freshmen.
Officials at the news conference also awarded 27 scholarships ranging from $50 to $250 to LBUSD eighth graders who have shown academic improvement.
The College Promise is an extension of the Long Beach Educational Partnership, which was created in 1994 and became a national model for its efforts to provide seamless education for Long Beach students from preschool to graduate school. The partnership also aligned academic standards, teaching methods and student assessment across institutions to improve student achievement and teacher quality.