Students need college prep encouragement

March 25, 2009 5:46:03 PM PDT
Most high school students in Oakland are not taking the tough academic courses they probably should be enrolled in. The problem is not that the kids can't do the work, but rather they're not asked or encouraged to.

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Last year only 37-percent of all seniors in Oakland high schools met the necessary requirements to get into a University of California or a California State University. A new report says that's because the school district doesn't force students to take the 15 more demanding courses known as "A to G," required by four year colleges.

"You are OK to graduate. You don't want to go to college, so we are not going to get you into these courses. You don't need to take another year of foreign language," says Tami Pearson, from Education Trust-West.

Education Trust-West is an advocacy group. They analyzed 2,000 transcripts to see the courses students were taking.

The school district acknowledges losing an entire generation of students who could have gone to a four-year college.

"I think there was a sense that you didn't want to over tax some students and that the rigor was too much they might become discouraged and would drop out of school," says Troy Flint, from the Oakland Unified School District.

So instead, too many were allowed to take the easier courses that in the end would still earn them a high school diploma.

Wandra Boyd is a parent. She made sure her son took the "A to G" courses.

"It's not up to the adults to determine whether or not this 9th grader, this 10th grader, this 11th grader is going to on to college. It's the district's responsibility to prepare them to have that option," says Boyd.

San Jose Unified is one of the few districts that require all students to take the "A to G" courses. San Francisco will begin adopting this policy next fall.

These findings will be presented to the Oakland School Board Wednesday night. Changes to the high school requirements are expected to be eventually approved by the board.

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