The Education Trust-West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-k through college.

College & Career

To fill workplace needs over the next two decades, California will need 1 million more college graduates than our education system is on track to produce. Sadly, our high school to college pipeline is broken, with too few students completing high school, enrolling in postsecondary institutions, and completing degrees. The leaks in this pipeline disproportionately hurt low-income students and students of color.

California’s high schools must dramatically increase not only the number of students who are earning diplomas, but also the number of students who graduate with meaningful preparation. This means ensuring that students have the skills, knowledge, and coursework necessary for college and career. And it means eliminating the systematic tracking that exacerbates differences among student subgroups: Low-income students and students of color receive less demanding coursework, limiting the scope of both their education and their future college and career options.

All California students should be well prepared for both college and the workforce.

Rigorous Standards, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessments

When California adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, it signaled a tectonic shift in the education landscape. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), adopted in 2013, are a far cry from the mile-wide, inch-deep standards of yesterday. These new standards set college and career readiness as the goal for all students, and they hold the promise of bringing rigor and relevance into the classroom. To realize this promise, our state must support educators, students, and parents in every district and community as they begin implementation. Without a focus on equity during this transition period, implementation of the standards may widen existing gaps in academic access and opportunity rather than close them.

To equitably implement the new standards, we must provide high-quality professional learning opportunities for all staff, provide rigorous instructional materials to classrooms, secure technology for new assessments and 21st century instruction, educate families and other stakeholders about the benefits of the new standards, and evaluate and monitor the implementation process. Taken together, these components will ensure all students in our state get access to the rigorous instruction and assessments that will prepare them for both college and career success.

In order to ensure equitable access to rigorous standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessments, we recommend that state leaders:

  1. Ensure equitable and effective implementation of the new standards, including the Common Core English-language arts (ELA) and math standards, NGSS, and English-language development (ELD) standards.
  2. Expand access to high-quality instructional materials.
  3. Invest in instructional models that promote deeper, interdisciplinary learning with the explicit goal of college and career success.
  4. Support a transparent, swift, and equitable transition to new assessments.

A-G FOR ALL

California must strengthen its graduation requirements and align them with college-ready expectations. All students ought to graduate with the courses needed to enter California’s public universities. In 20 states across the country and the District of Columbia, students are already required to complete a college-preparatory curriculum to earn a diploma, in recognition that a rigorous course of study is necessary for both college and career. Until California’s default graduation requirements are strong enough to make a student eligible for the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) systems, we must continue to expand access to the “A-G” course sequence required by our state’s public university systems.

THE CA LINKED LEARNING INITIATIVE

Given the global economic challenges our state and nation are facing, it is abundantly clear that we must approach college and career readiness from a new direction. Fortunately, is a fresh groundswell of commitment to high school reform in California and across the country, with educators and policymakers committed to expanding college and career readiness. “Linked Learning” is one such effort. When implemented in fidelity with its vision, it promises to increase graduation rates and prepare students for both college and career options by offering an engaging, relevant, and rigorous course of study. The Linked Learning reform strategy is in the early stages of development and implementation in California districts. Therefore, the effectiveness, scalability, and potential of this approach to result in greater equity, improved student academic achievement, and college and career access and success has yet to be fully determined.

DATA COLLECTION AND USE

California must continue to fund, develop, and implement the state’s student data system (CALPADS) so that all stakeholders have the data they need to evaluate and support student learning and system improvement. A system that tracks individual student progress from early childhood through the K–12 system, into postsecondary education, and then into the workforce, will allow the state to determine which programs yield the most results. Further, such a system will help educators work with parents to support each student’s progress.

DIGITAL LEARNING

The Education Trust—West is exploring the digital learning landscape to understand the promise and pitfalls of technological innovation in education. Our goal is to identify and advocate for the policies, solutions and strategies that will allow low-income students and students of color to fully realize the potential of the digital world and this new and more personalized approach to learning. Our ultimate goal is to improve student outcomes and to erase the achievement gap. We are also concerned that low-income students and students of color lack equitable access to the benefits of technological innovation in education, and seek to ensure educators and policymakers focus on digital equity, access and success to address this inequity.

There are several policy and implementation issues we are exploring:

  • Access to infrastructure – such as bandwidth, hardware and quality tools and content;
  • Development of human capital - professional development and support for the educators and administrators on the effective use of digital tools;
  • Leadership and redesign: School and district leaders will need to restructure our 19th century educational model to take advantage of new opportunities to accelerate learning provided by digital tools;
  • State policy and funding – removal of barriers such as seat time and other 19th century requirements and the effective use of funding to close digital divides.

Publications on College & Career

The Language of Reform: English Learners in California’s Shifting Education Landscape

The Language of Reform: English Learners in California's Shifting Education Landscape


October 22, 2014


Amber Banks, Practice Associate
The Education Trust—West

Leni Wolf, Data and Policy Analyst
The Education Trust—West

 

Presented: 
October 22 2014

The Language of Reform: English Learners in California's Shifting Education Landscape

California, a state rich in cultural and linguistic diversity, serves 1.4 million English learners—more than any other state in the country and accounting for almost one-third of English learners in the entire U.S. Too often, these students face insufficient academic supports, ill-prepared teachers, and less rigorous coursework, causing them to struggle academically. However, a new analysis finds it does not have to be this way. The Education Trust–West identifies a number of districts across California that are breaking this pattern.

Publication date: 
September 23 2014

Ed Trust–West Releases Statement in Response to Governor Brown’s 2014-2015 State Budget

OAKLAND, CA (June 20, 2014) – Valerie Cuevas, Interim Executive Director of The Education Trust—West, issued the following statement following Governor Brown’s signing of the 2014-2015 state budget today:  

“We commend the Governor and the Legislature for accelerating the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) by providing an additional $4.7 billion in the 2014-15 budget. This additional funding will strengthen the work of school districts to serve our neediest students and close achievement gaps. Unfortunately, we remain concerned about two issues. The Governor and the Legislature chose not to designate additional funding for implementation of the Common Core State Standards. All students will be subject to more rigorous state standards and assessments, but not all students will have access to fully prepared teachers, and adequate technology and instructional materials. As a result, opportunity and achievement gaps could be exacerbated rather than narrowed. Furthermore, the plan for increasing employer contributions to the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) will double the cost of retirement benefits for school districts without a plan for funding the increased contributions. Without a plan for additional funding, the increased contributions to CalSTRS will be paid at the expense of funding for the LCFF, including supplemental and concentration funding for needy students.”

Doorways to College Aid: Boosting Access to Financial Aid in California

An analysis of newly available FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and Cal Grant application data from the California Student Aid Commission released today by The Education Trust—West finds that while the number of California high school seniors who complete FAFSA and Cal Grant applications is up from last year, there are still too many students across the state who are not applying for financial aid. The new data reveal that the number of high school seniors who completed FAFSA and Cal Grant applications rose from 2012 to 2013, from 54 percent to 61 percent for FAFSA and from 50 percent to 58 percent respectively. Still, the fact remains that nearly 170,000 12th graders (42%) from the class of 2013 did not complete a Cal Grant application. The new findings can be found in the latest “Equity Alert” brief from The Education Trust—West, titled, Doorways to College Aid, the follow up to last year’s full report, The Cost of Opportunity: Access to College Financial Aid in California. The brief also includes a list of the Top 100 high schools in California for FAFSA completion.

Publication date: 
February 25 2014

New Analysis Finds FAFSA & Cal Grant Applications Rising; Too Many Students Across California Still Not Applying for Financial Aid

OAKLAND, CA (February 25, 2014) – An analysis of newly available FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and Cal Grant application data from the California Student Aid Commission released today by The Education Trust—West finds that while the number of California high school seniors who complete FAFSA and Cal Grant applications is up from last year, there are still too many students across the state who are not applying for financial aid.

The new data reveal that the number of high school seniors who completed FAFSA and Cal Grant applications rose from 2012 to 2013, from 54 percent to 61 percent for FAFSA and from 50 percent to 58 percent respectively. Still, the fact remains that nearly 170,000 12th graders (42%) from the class of 2013 did not complete a Cal Grant application. The new findings can be found in the latest “Equity Alert” brief from The Education Trust—West, titled, Doorways to College Aid, the follow up to last year’s full report, The Cost of Opportunity: Access to College Financial Aid in California. The brief also includes a list of the Top 100 high schools in California for FAFSA completion.

The Education Trust-West 2014 Policy Agenda

The past several years have jolted California’s education system like never before. Seismic shifts in school finance, standards, curriculum, and instruction sent shockwaves through our state’s education policy landscape. Long-familiar landmarks in school finance, accountability, and assessment were replaced by a host of new initiatives, including the Local Control Funding Formula, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, Common Core State Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards. In the coming years, as they ripple through our education system, these new initiatives have the potential to shift California’s focus more towards equity and close our state’s achievement and opportunity gaps. But we also know that without close attention to equitable implementation, these initiatives could widen existing gaps and create new fissures between our highest need students and their more advantaged peers. In our 2014 Policy Agenda, we recommend steps that policymakers should take in four core policy areas to ensure that students of color, low-income students, and English learners benefit from the changes in our education landscape.

Publication date: 
February 14 2014

Bridging the Technology Divide: Equitable Access to Robust Infrastructure and Digital Content for All

The Education Trust-West’s “Bringing Equity to the Common Core” Webinar Series
Bridging the Technology Divide: Equitable Access to Robust Infrastructure and Digital Content for All

January 30, 2014


Jeannette LaFors, Director of Equity Initiatives, The Education Trust-West
Amber Banks, Practice Associate, The Education Trust-West
Orville Jackson, Senior Research Analyst, The Education Trust-West 

To watch a recording of the Webinar, click here

Presented: 
January 30 2014

Cost of Opportunity

The Cost of Opportunity:
Access to College Financial Aid in California
By Orville Jackson
Webinar
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
 

 

Presented: 
March 26 2013

New Ed Trust–West Study Finds Promising Practices for Student Success in Linked Learning Schools; Reveals Implications for District-Level Implementation throughout California

OAKLAND, CA (March 21, 2013) – As the Linked Learning high school reform initiative expands across California, the results of a two-year study by the Education Trust–West identifies promising practices in Linked Learning schools and districts. However, the study also notes variation in districtwide implementation of these best practices. The results of the study can be found in the new report released today titled, Expanding Access, Creating Options: How Linked Learning Pathways Can Mitigate Barriers to College and Career Access in Schools and Districts.

“Too many students are not achieving college and career success in California,” said Arun Ramanathan, Executive Director of The Education Trust–West, a statewide education advocacy organization that works to close gaps in opportunity and achievement for students of color and low-income students. “Based on our research, we see that Linked Learning has the potential to reduce these inequities and offer students a real connection between academic and career success.” 

Expanding Access, Creating Options: How Linked Learning Pathways Can Mitigate Barriers to College and Career Access in Schools and Districts

As the Linked Learning high school reform initiative expands across California, the results of a two-year study by the Education Trust–West identifies promising practices in Linked Learning schools and districts. However, the study also notes variation in districtwide implementation of these best practices. The results of the study can be found in the new report released today titled, Expanding Access, Creating Options: How Linked Learning Pathways Can Mitigate Barriers to College and Career Access in Schools and Districts.

Publication date: 
March 21 2013