SD High School Students Must Take UC Entry Requirements to Graduate

Effective for the class of 2016, San Diego Unified School District will require all high school students to complete the University of California’s A-G course requirements in order to graduate. The school board passed the resolution March 29.

The change in policy reflects the school district’s desire to provide more opportunities for students who may not consider applying to a UC school after high school.

The school board also voted to cut summer school programs and use $7.3 million in redevelopment money — initially allocated toward a new charter school within the downtown — for general education funds at schools. Superintendent Bill Kowba found $3.2 million in savings, preventing the layoffs of 30 administrators. The budget will be finalized June 30.

“It’s time for us to stop using the budget as an excuse to not educate kids,” San Diego Education Association President Bill Friedman said to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

According to “Tougher education standards for the class of 2016,” a March 29 article that appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune, about $15 million will be spent over the next four or five years to make A-G classes available at all San Diego high schools. The additional classes are Algebra II, a second year of foreign language and an arts course.

The plan, conceived in April 2009, also sets aside funding for tutoring programs.

According to the San Diego Unified School District website, the resolution is part of the board’s goals to eliminate the achievement gap, increase high school graduation rates and reduce dropout rates among all San Diego high school students.

The school board analyzed 6,287 transcripts from the graduating class of 2009 to gauge academic performance, UC and California State University systems eligibility and general trends and patterns of enrollment. The report found that the number of students completing the A-G courses increased over the past five years across all ethnic groups.

About 46 percent of students graduate with completion of the A-G requirements. But it also revealed significant achievement gaps between different ethnic groups, with disproportionately few black and Latino students graduating with completion of the A-G courses.

The data, from 2008, shows over 50 percent of white and Asian students graduated having fulfilled A-G requirements, compared to 30 percent of Latino students and 32 percent of black students. Black students compose 57 percent of SDUSD students.

A 2010 assessment from the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University Chicago Urban Education Institute found that 21 states require high schools to complete some form of college preparatory curriculum in order to graduate. The report argues that implementing mandatory curriculum policies does not imply improved outcomes for students.

The report found that attendance and studying are pivotal elements to graduating with A-G completion and ninth grade students with nine or more absences in a semester have a 41 percent or lower likelihood of graduating within four years. The effects of the course change on lower-achieving students saw increased course failings and decreased GPAs.

But UCSD Vice Chancellor of Admissions Mae Brown said completion of the A-G classes will prepare more students for higher education.

“The A-G requirements serve as excellent preparation for college and university admission,” Brown said in an email. “UC San Diego is a very selective campus. Therefore I strongly encourage prospective students to complete the most rigorous curriculum possible.”

According to the Voice of San Diego, there will be another option for students who are unable to fulfill the A-G requirements.

An alternative high school diploma will remain available for students of alternative schools or adult education programs.

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