When the class of 2018 graduates in June from Santa Rosa City Schools, we hope it reverses an alarming trend in college preparedness for local students.
Between 2013 and 2016, the most recent available data, the percentage of Santa Rosa graduates who qualified to apply for admission to the University of California and California State University declined from 31.5 percent to 28.6 percent.
Over the same period, the number of qualifying graduates from all Sonoma County high schools grew from 32.5 percent to 35.7 percent.
That’s a little better, but the city and the county both lag well behind the statewide average, which has been steadily climbing and reached 45.4 percent in 2016.
Local schools need to do better — for the sake of students who will be entering an increasingly competitive world and to help meet the growing demand in California for a well-educated workforce.
There’s a proven strategy: require all high school students to take college-preparatory classes.
From San Diego to San Francisco to the Sonoma Valley, students have risen to meet higher expectations when their school districts adopted what are known as the A-G requirements — the prerequisites for admission to a UC or CSU campus.
Santa Rosa City Schools is poised to be next. The school board is scheduled to vote tonight to adopt A-G requirements for graduation, beginning with next fall’s freshman class.
The required classes cover basic academic subjects, and completing them should be well within the reach of most students: three years of math, four years of English, two years of history and social science, two years of laboratory science, two years of a foreign language, a year of visual or performing arts and a year of a college-preparatory elective.
For Santa Rosa students, the new system would amount to one more year of math and foreign language.
“We’re raising the floor to what the state requirement is,” school board President Jenni Klose, who proposed the change, told the Editorial Board.
Supporters of her proposal include Sonoma County school Superintendent Steven D. Herrington and Carlos Ayala, the dean of the school of education at Sonoma State University. We support it, too.
By 2025, more than 40 percent of California jobs are expected to require a college degree, and the Public Policy Institute of California says the state needs to increase the number of college graduates by about 1 million over the next dozen years to meet the projected demand for highly skilled workers. Producing more college-ready high school graduates is the first step to meeting that need.
It’s true that not every students wants, or needs, to attend college. But a well-rounded education is needed even for jobs that don’t require a four-year degree.
And too many students, especially Latinos and kids from low-income families, are being funneled into less rigorous classes when they start high school, not knowing they won’t be eligible to apply to a state university. “It doesn’t have to be a choice,” Klose said.
“We’re segregating our high schools,” Santa Rosa school Superintendent Diann Kitamura said. That is socially wrong.”
Santa Rosa school board members can start fixing that tonight by adopting A-G graduation requirements.