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Measuring Success, Making Progress

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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H3 12/3/09

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(Berkeley) MPR Associates Inc. today releasedMeasuring Success, Making Progress, a new Web-based research summary of education outcomes in California. The research is available on the Web at

"This new tool provides a rich array of data that clearly defines where California stands and offers a baseline against which to measure progress," said Jay Pfeiffer, senior associate at MPR.

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Among other findings, the Web site details low levels of high school completion and college readiness among California's students. For Latino and African American students, the picture of high school completion and college preparation is significantly worse than among their white and Asian peers.

"These outcomes show that there is clearly a breakdown in the educational pipeline," says Pfeiffer.Too few students are graduating from high school, and among those that do, too few are prepared for success in college."

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Measuring Success, Making Progressprovides, among other information, current data on high school completion rates, college readiness, college enrollment, community college progress and college completion rates. The purpose of the project is to provide educators and policymakers with a rich set of outcome data to inform education policy and practice, and target limited resources where they are most needed. MPR Associates Inc., in partnership with Cal-PASS and The RP Group, compiled and analyzed the research. The Hewlett Foundation provided funding for the project as part of its ongoing effort to support increasing student outcomes that lead to greater success in career and life. Key findings include:


The average freshman 2008 high school graduation rate for California was 70.9 percent.

Statewide graduation rates are substantially lower for students of color. In 2008, African American (58%) and Hispanic (62%) students' graduation rates were about 20 percentage points lower than White students' rates and about 30 points lower than Asian students' rates.

A new six-year longitudinal analysis finds that just over half of seventh grade students (55 percent) in a sample of more than 15,000 seventh graders in five California school districts received regular high school diplomas six years later.Latino and African American student fare worse. The six-year longitudinal high school graduation rate for Latino students is 46 percent.Among African American students, the rate is 38 percent.By comparison, the six-year rate is 62 percent among white students, and 66 percent among Asian students. The largest percentage of students who failed to complete (14 percent) did so in the 12thgrade.

Readiness For College

In 2009, 12 percent of all 11thgrade students (16 percent of test-takers) scored at levels indicating readiness for college on the CSU Early Assessment Program test in English. Five percent of all 11thgrade students (13 percent of test-takers) scored at levels indicating readiness for college on the math section of the test and an additional 15 percent demonstrated "conditional" readiness.Latino and African American students fare worse. Nineteen percent of white and 27 percent of Asian students score as college-ready on the English exam, compared to about 5 percent of their Hispanic and African American peers. In mathematics, almost one in five Asian/Pacific Islander students scored at a college-ready level, compared to one in twenty White students and about 1 percent of Hispanic and African American students.

Entering Community College Unprepared -- Challenges and Opportunities

New data on students taking pre-collegiate (basic skills) courses in community colleges indicate that depending on the subject, between 16 and 35 percent of students who ever take a basic skills course, pass the subsequent college-level course.

Pell Grants make a difference

Among low-income students in community colleges, those who receive a Pell Grant complete a degree or transfer to a four-year college at a higher rate than their peers who do not.

"The outcomes examined in this new research website underscore the importance of California's development of a state data system that can track individual students over time, says Pfeiffer. "Hopefully, the state can build on the foundation it already hasto develop a data system that can help policymakers understand problems, make effective decisions and target limited resources to strengthen educational outcomes."

The complete findings ofMeasuring Success, Making Progressare available at



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John McDonald is a writer and consultant in Los Angeles.

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