Take the CSU test in 11th grade to make college more enriching 

Parents of high school juniors are often eager to prepare their children for the college search process. While some families are now returning from a college road trip scheduled during spring break, there’s something equally important parents can do right here at home.

This month, high schools statewide are administering the California Standards Test for math and English language arts. This test is now accompanied by 15 math and English questions and an essay assignment labeled “optional.” Advice to parents: Make sure your child opts in, because it could save you thousands of dollars.

Those questions — part of the California State University system’s Early Assessment Program — test your child’s readiness to be successful in college. Choosing to take the test can qualify your child to skip the CSU English or math placement tests, identify ways that senior-level course work can best prepare your child for college and help avoid the need for remediation courses at the university level.

Unfortunately, almost 60 percent of California high school graduates — and these are strong students who ranked in the top one-third of their graduating class — enter the CSU in need of remedial skill-
building to get them to the college level. They are required to take special courses, often classes that do not count toward the baccalaureate degree, which can increase the amount of time a student needs to be in college.

Remediation can drain both a student’s enthusiasm and a family’s resources. The first year of college is best spent expanding one’s horizons and learning valuable new information, not bogged down in remedial courses. The Early Assessment Program test helps a student identify areas that need special attention during high school, so a student can begin exciting college courses immediately in his or her freshman year. The test also helps manage a family’s education costs. Remediation completed in high school is much more affordable than remediation delayed until college. At a typical CSU campus, one additional semester can add $12,239 in tuition fees, books and living expenses to the costs of earning a degree.

Results of the CSU test are accepted by all campuses in the system, including San Francisco State, and by many community colleges throughout California. Tell your student to take the test, take it seriously, and talk with you about the results. We all want students to get into college and to succeed, so let’s work together to ensure they are prepared.

Carlos A. Garcia is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District. Robert A. Corrigan is the president of San Francisco State University.

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