Local Students Struggle to Get Ready for College

The Cal State University system offers an early assessment of math and English skills for juniors. Statewide, a majority of incoming freshmen are not prepared. Locally, numbers trend similarly.

More than 60 percent of all students entering the California State University system are not ready for college-level English and math, and local students appear to be no different, according to recently released test results.

Called the Early Assessment Program, administered by CSU and the state Department of Education to students in their junior year, the tests determine college-readiness, according to the program’s website.

Of the 40,000 first-time college freshmen that enter into the CSU system each year, 25,000 need to take remedial classes, according to the website.

“These 25,000 freshmen all have taken the required college preparatory curriculum and earned at least a B grade point average in high school,” the website explains.

So how do students in the Capistrano and Saddleback Valley unified school districts measure up?

About the same.

Scoring is broken down into three categories: “ready,” “conditional” and “not ready.”

While math scores were divided into these same three categories in 2011, this is the first year it was done for English scores. Last year for English, the scores were merely “ready” or “not ready,” making it difficult to compare precise apples-to-apples.

Capistrano Unified

Only two schools, Aliso Niguel and Tesoro, have English “ready” scores higher than the freshman class as CSU. In math, no school scored higher than a 30 percent “ready” rate.

A CUSD spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

Taking all the schools' results and averaging them, this year’s scores have Capistrano Unified students demonstrating pure college readiness in English at 38 percent and in math at 24 percent.

Capo students across the district’s six comprehensive high schools fell into the “not ready” category for English at a rate of 41 percent and at a rate of 26 percent for math.

The rest fall into the “conditional” category. According to the Early Assessment Program, students who score below “ready” but above “not ready,” according to CSU:

... have demonstrated readiness at this point in time for English [or math] at the CSU. However, they will need to take an appropriate English [or math] course in the senior year to ensure that they continue to be ready.

Carolina Cardena, a spokeswoman for CSU, describes the "conditional" designation this way: "At the time the student took the test we felt they were ready for college level work but were close to not being ready, and if they take a year off from taking a rigorous math or English course they would lose the skill in those subject areas."

Juniors who did not pass the English test were placed in an expository reading and writing course this year, according to a memo to the Board of Trustees.

Overall, more Capo seniors across the district are ready for college English than the class that just graduated, 39 percent versus 35 percent. However, they are ready for college math at the same rate of 22 percent for 2012 and 2011.

More students fall into the middle, “conditional” category in math this year than last: 48 percent in 2012 versus 46 percent in 2011.

See the charts below for specific school numbers.

Saddleback Unified

Students from Trabuco Hills are ready for college English at a much greater rate than Saddleback’s three other comprehensive high schools. They clock in with 52 percent of juniors testing ready for college English.

Meanwhile, all the math scores from the four schools have less than a 30 percent ready rate, with Laguna Hills High having the highest at 27 percent.

A SVUSD spokeswoman did not return a reporter’s call.

Calculating the district averages, 38 percent of Saddleback students are college-ready in English, 24 percent in math. While the math rates were the same in 2011, English results dropped from an average of 42 percent in 2011.

Meanwhile, the number of students not ready in math dropped slightly, from 28 percent in 2011 to 26 percent in 2012.

See the charts below for specific school numbers. 

Capistrano Unified  Early  Assessment  Results  2012     School

% English Ready

% English Conditional

% English Not Ready

% Math Ready

% Math 


% Math Not Ready

Aliso Niguel  47  20  33  30  47  23 Capo Valley  32  21   47  21   42  37 Dana Hills  32  19  49  22  47  31 San Clemente  37  21  42  14  57  29 San Juan Hills  40  20  41  18  50  32 Tesoro  45  23  32  27   45  28


Saddleback Valley Unified

 Early  Assessment  Results  2012     School

% English Ready

% English 


% English Not Ready

% Math Ready

% Math 


% Math Not Ready

El Toro  26  21  53  24  52  23 Laguna Hills  35  22  43  27  51  21 Mission Viejo  38  22  40  20  48  32 Trabuco Hills  52  23  25  24  49  27
Capo Parent October 11, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Shelly Wow, you want a yes vote on Prop 30 & 38. So you want the maximum amount of taxes on CA tax payers. Even the teachers union is not taking such an extreme position. Hard to believe anyone could be more extreme and more to the left than the teachers union. Why not just extend an open invitation to all tax paying citizens and businesses to leave CA, because if you don't, CA will tax you into oblivion. It appears your real objective is to redistribute wealth & prosperity in CA all in the name of education, because I can't think of any other logical reason for you wanting both Prop 30 & 38 to pass. I guess the next thing you will propose is a parcel tax and a school bond on top of Prop 30 & 38.
Lawrene Bottorf October 11, 2012 at 09:31 PM
And I just came back from a tax briefing at lunch...we are all going to be screwed with higher federal taxes...by a LOT. And the Yes on 30, no on 32 and yes on 38 people are just heaping more on us. I will not put good money after bad. We need accountability and leadership, not more taxes. Oh...and something I found out today also, the federal capital gains exemption of 1 mil includes life insurance proceeds...yikes!!!!
shelly October 11, 2012 at 09:57 PM
When the taxes are not covering education, then they I feel we should all be willing to help. This is what our parents and grandparents did. It is not about how it affects me personally but how it affects our world. We need our nations children to be educated. All children. Not just the wealthy or those from educated parents. All children from all economic levels and all backgrounds. And currently we are short changing them. It is your right to vote however you choose. I will vote yes. Education is important to all of us. My real objective is to help children and our community.
MFriedrich October 11, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Shelly, how much of the tax increase will benefit the education and academic achievement of children directly? Because it's spectactularly ironic how Californians on both sides of this issue have decided it prudent to spend tens of MILLIONS of dollars on multiple, related ballot initiatives. This is what I mean by one horrible comedy show. Except nobody gets the irony. In other news, several OC school district schools are kicking butt with improved API scores after experiencing layoffs and the proverbial budget shaft for the last several years. Hmmmm.
Lawrene Bottorf October 11, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Shelly...that is where our philosophies differ...I believe it is the parents responsibility to educate their own children, you hand that awesome privilege over the the government. Parents DO have a choice...and the borrower is servant to the lender. If you depend on the government to educate your children...then continue groveling and demanding your entitlement.
shelly October 12, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Lawrene Bottorf, Yes, if you are educated and have money and have time you can homeschool your children if you choose to. In America we have public schools because we believe in education for all and not just the educated and people with money. We pay for our children's education through taxes. We also pay for other people's taxes. We also "grovel" as you say for safety, for emergency situations, for safe infrastructure, for safe streets. Like education these are not entitlements these are things we pay for as citizens. These are things that give a higher standard of living for all. In America we choose to educate all of our children. You may not agree with this and believe that parents should even though many cannot but this is something that is the law It benefits us all to have an educated community.
shelly October 12, 2012 at 02:08 AM
meant to say, We pay for other people's children.
Lawrene Bottorf October 13, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Takes time and money to educate, and that responsibility should (and used to be) the responsibility of the family. If parents want to hand their children over to the state, go ahead...but I am not voting to pay for it. I want to choose whose education I pay for.
fact checker October 13, 2012 at 03:56 AM
A free public education is the foundation of our democracy. It is the responsibility of everyone to support that since everyone benefits from an educated populace. When communities support the schools it works for everyone. That is the way it has been for decades and that is the way it should be. As a citizen you have a responsibility to do your part.
Charles October 13, 2012 at 04:15 AM
...and if you don't want to accept the government's public education, it will throw you in jail.
randy October 13, 2012 at 05:45 AM
USA = FUBU? For us by us?
shelly October 13, 2012 at 07:08 AM
Lawrene Bottorf, Over a 150 years ago. You already pay taxes for education unless you do not pay your taxes. Some people would like to choose whose education they want to pay fo but that is not how we provide education in the U.S.A. We do not discriminate. Yes, many years ago some people chose not to educate women, not too many years ago some chose not to educate African Americans, some chose not to educate Native Americans. The constitution and the American people as a whole did not agree. You may wish to choose whose education you pay for but most of us do not. Most want to educate children, all children. The majority of us in the U.S.A. were educated in government schools. We were handed over to caring teachers in the public schools.
Lawrene Bottorf October 13, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Times have changed, our populace is not more educated, but less. Grade inflation incentives to get mo'money, Over 40% of those going to college need remedial work. There is little to no guidance, and the emphasis of parent ed seems to be "get them out alive". The high school culture seems to be all about recreation and sports. Everyone seems excited at an API of 800-860, yet "proficiency" by government standards is 875. And if we can afford to educate the misbehaved, and the illegal...great. But we can't. Cops parked in front of affluent suburban south county schools. The schools aren't as good as you think...No more taxes.
fact checker October 13, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Lawrene, We can't afford NOT to educate the misbehaved and the children of immigrants. What would you have them do? Stay home? Roam the streets? Continue the cycle by raising uneducated children of their own? What exactly do you have in mind for the children whose families can't or won't support their education by participating in or supporting the education of their children? The responsibility of educating our populace belongs to everyone.
Lawrene Bottorf October 13, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I would have parents take responsibility for their own children, children be accountable to the consequences of their behavior, and everyone have respect for the privilege of education. The government system has been dumbed down and the academic bar lowered. I can't control how my tax dollars are being spent, but I can vote to not have them raised any more.
fact checker October 13, 2012 at 07:00 PM
The children are the innocents in this. They deserve the best we can offer...every single one of them. Including those who were brought to this country illegally because their parents found a better opportunity here for their families. Punishing the children won't solve the problem of illegal immigration. If parents, legal or otherwise, won't take responsibility and if children won't take responsibility then who will? Your taxes are best spent educating everyone rather than paying for the consequences of not doing so. Society is dealing with lots of issues and the schools reflect that. Nothing has been intentionally dumbed down and in an affluent community such as CUSD serves there has been no dumbing down. The curriculum has become steadily more rigorous, for everyone. College freshmen have been dealing with the issues of adapting to college for decades. If you have solutions feel free to get involved in the process. And that means working with the schools in addition to charging students for services that they may or may not need.
Lawrene Bottorf October 13, 2012 at 07:12 PM
I was a teacher in the CUSD and I see the results of "rigorous curriculum". Again, the schools are not as good as many would like to believe, and the end product speaks for itself. No more taxes.
fact checker October 13, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Ditto, Lawrene. Cite a specific instance where the curriculum is less rigorous than it was. The schools in CUSD are excellent. You may not want to pay taxes but it is your duty as a citizen to do so.
randy October 13, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Lawrene Bottorf, not JUST parents/taxpayers' responsibility, each student is being monitored by everyone in schools, administration, government and military. Teachers are right next to their students in the classroom all day - teaching them how to be well-behaved, using the curriculum being updated. That is how America is. Our country is defined by us. Now, the way I see, an act of distrust between the education government and K-12 students, the government-issued of STAR test has given an inception of abuse and cop-out games being played. It is with my understanding that the government is currently undertaking a major makeover of the STAR (to CCS sp?) starting in 2014. Too bad for 150 schools being investigated for allegations. We should be thankful that there are people who are smart/sincere and can solve the allegations by their formal action. The medocrity of education is just a basic thing each child should learn and get skills, and they can become innovative.
Lawrene Bottorf October 13, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Fact checker--I can't cite specific examples. I see it in my profession of assessing the college readiness of students. And I do pay taxes...plenty of them. Just not voting for more. You do what is best for your children. Handing my children over the the state was not something I was willing to do.
fact checker October 13, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Your children will have to live in a world populated by the children of others. If you chose to home school or send your children to private school it will not change that fact. You can't cite a specific example because there isn't one. What you see in your business is a sample of students who require help (or whose parents think they do to stay "ahead of the pack"). You do not see those students who matriculated easily into college or who deem to handle it on their own. You also do not see students who choose a path other than college or who take another path (community college or vocational schools). How students do on the SAT or even the college they choose (or do not choose) has little effect on their eventual happiness, financial success, or advancement in their chosen occupation. What matters is their motivation and the importance they place on a number of factors.
mb October 13, 2012 at 08:28 PM
I think the education in CUSD is much more rigorous than it used to be. In decades past, before STAR and API, teachers were much more free to teach as they saw fit. Nowadays that is not the case, and the curriculum at each school in each discipline is directed by the STAR material and CA's standards. Any teacher or school who that fails to improve is noticed, and efforts are implemented and directed towards them.
Lawrene Bottorf October 28, 2012 at 10:41 PM
The drop out numbers are staggering in college...over 42% needing remediation. Our CUSD schools aren't as good as you think....and more money will not fix it...changing the "system" will.
Lawrene Bottorf November 22, 2012 at 08:28 PM
I agree...but does Finland fund grants for "Fish Leadership" or provide education for EVERYONE. We have so much waste in the government it is a crime...That is why we need to get decisions back to the local level...and keep the feds and state out of it...
Joanna Clark November 23, 2012 at 07:02 AM
Our public education system is broken thanks largely to us. With every budget crisis, funding for education gets cut. Teachers, unions, and government are blamed even though much of the blame belongs on us. Our government is a representative government of the people, by the people and for the people. If it fails, it is because we the people have failed as it is our responsibility to elect people of good character who have qualifications to represent us. We blame government when it fails us, yet we keep electing the same people over and over again, even though they serve those who do not have our best interests in mind. We ignore the huge debt those we hire to teach our children incur to get their education and teaching credentials. Then we expect them to work for near poverty level wages. Can we expect them to get by on a salary of $50,000 per annum? Out of this they are going to pay off their student loans? Out of this they are going to be buying classroom supplies? Out of this they are going to finance a mortgage? Out of this they are going to make co-payments for their health care? Out of this they are going to raise their own family? Why do American students rank 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading? If Finland can provide a free education to every citizen from pre-school through doctorate degree, why can we not do the same? .
Desi Kiss November 23, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Joana, your data is outdated as most of our educational systems. We are # 31 in math and # 23 in science in the World. please visit: http://www.ocregister.com/news/science-377306-students-math.html to learn more
Joanna Clark November 24, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Hi Desi, Thank you for catching my mistake. It is much worse than I predicted and only confirms further the point I was trying to make. Our system is broken, and we need to fix it. If a small country like Finland can rank 1st and 2nd in in Math and Science, while offering FREE education to its citizens from preschool through a doctorate-level degree, why can't we? Nationwide, Finland averages less than a 2% drop out rate. According to the National Center for Education Statistics the California freshman dropout rate was 20.1% to 30% during the 2008-09 school year. I consider our failure to provide a quality education for our children unacceptable. We're becoming more like a third-world country every day.
Desi Kiss November 24, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Hello Joanna. Well said. Please keep up the good work. Happy Holidays!
Joanna Clark November 24, 2012 at 06:27 PM
You too, Desi, and best wishes for a Happy and Safe Holiday Season.
Lawrene Bottorf November 24, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Recentering of test scores, watering down of curriculum to inflate GPA's, the choice to make 15-20% of the graduating class "valedictorians" and overall disintegration of consideration and respect of our teens...in our office, we see a sense of entitlement and over estimation of ones ability to thrive in a competitive academic environment.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something