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California’s public universities are failing to produce enough college graduates, study finds

Esmeralda Fabián Romero | June 5, 2017

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Only 43 percent of California’s 2015 high school graduates were eligible for the state’s public universities, one of the factors that contributed to the “F” that the state’s higher education received in a newly released report.

And many of those who do make it to college aren’t finishing, the report found.

Only 47 percent of college-age adults in the state are enrolled in college, way below the 71 percent needed to produce the 1.7 million college credentials needed in California by 2025.

“California is at risk of falling behind” of where it needs to be in less than a decade, according to the first California Higher Education Report Card, released last week by The Campaign for College Opportunity.

“Today, just under half of adults in California have a college degree or credential. However, growing demand for a more educated workforce requires that 60 percent of adults have a degree or credential by 2025,” said Michele Siqueiros, the group’s president.

The first California Higher Education Report Card (Courtesy of The Campaign for College Opportunity)

In 2014-15, only 12,584 new certificates and degrees were awarded, yet the report stated that 23,000 new degree-holders are needed annually in each of the next eight years.

“We are on track for the first time to have a generation of Californians being less educated than their parents, so that poses some serious threat in terms of our potential to maintain a strong economy,” Siqueiros said.

LA Unified has also struggled with A-G completion — the set of courses required for access to Cal State and University of California schools. Last year, 47 percent of LA’s high school graduates were eligible for state universities.

“California’s scores on the Report Card show that we still face challenges as a state in terms of college preparation, access, completion, and affordability, all of which can be difficult for many students — and for folks like me, who are the first in their families to graduate from college,” said Jeremy Knight, director of communications for Students for Education Reform (SFER).

“For us, education is a critical part of achieving the American Dream and enabling the upward mobility that will help improve our lives and the lives of those around us who sacrificed so much to get us here.”

Knight pointed out a recent survey conducted by SFER that found that 72 percent of first-generation college students agreed that education is the best pathway out of poverty.

The California Higher Education Report Card’s recommendations for policy makers can be read here.

• Read more from LA School Report: Exclusive: New district data on student grades show more than half of LAUSD’s 2016 graduates were not eligible for California’s public universities


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