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Improving College Graduation Rates: A Closer Look at California State University

By Kevin Cook, Jacob Jackson

Low college graduation rates come at a high cost—lower salaries, lower tax revenue, and fewer college graduates in the workforce. At California State University (CSU), the nation's largest university system, graduation rates have an outsized financial and economic impact on students and the state.

CSU has made strides in improving graduation rates, but there is more work to be done. The system continues to struggle with graduation gaps—underrepresented students are much less likely to complete their degree compared to their peers, and these gaps have not narrowed over time. Also, CSU's on-time (four-year) graduation rates still lag behind those of similar universities nationwide.

By 2025, CSU aims to further increase graduation rates while cutting graduation gaps in half. To assist campus planning for this goal, we identify several promising programs and policies. More broadly, the CSU Chancellor's Office must work with campuses to evaluate and expand successful efforts, and the state must play a role in supporting new policies to move the needle on graduation gaps and on-time graduation.

blog post

Assessment and Placement at Community Colleges

By Olga Rodriguez

Little is known about how incoming community college students are assessed and placed into math and English courses—decisions that have major implications.

blog post

College Readiness and the New State Exams

By Jacob Jackson

Results of the new statewide tests show that about half of 11th-grade students are at least conditionally ready for college level courses in English and less than a third are ready for college level math courses.

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