As we’ve been creating our College Readiness Series, we’ve found that parents have a lot of questions about how best to support their kids to have options after graduating high school. And parents have questions about topics we tackle in the series, including UC/CSU eligibility and technical items like “A-G Requirements” or the “College/Career Indicator.” We’ve gathered some of those questions below, along with answers. If you have other questions you would like to see included on this list, please get in touch with us by emailing Silvia Scandar Mahan –   

What do parents and students need to know about getting prepared for college?

Right now, too many students aren’t being prepared for college, completing college or getting good jobs. This is especially true for low-income students of color. The mission of Innovate Public Schools is to make sure that ALL students receive a world-class public education that prepares them for success. We are publishing this series to give parents the information they need to support their child and hold schools accountable for providing a strong education to all.

Students have big goals for themselves and almost all aspire to go to college. In our 21st century economy, the reality is that preparing students for good careers generally means preparing them for college. Most will have to continue their education beyond high school to achieve the goals they have set for themselves.

Schools owe it to students to hold up their end of the bargain, but, sadly, most schools in California are not. Too much of the data (about test scores and college eligibility) collected and reported by the state isn’t accessible to parents or presented in way that is useful for taking action. We are committed to sharing with parents important data that is either confusing or unavailable.  

We believe that, at a minimum, every child should graduate high school with the opportunity to go to a four-year college. Not every student has to go to college, but every student should be able to choose to go to college if he or she wants to go to college.

This will be a reality when:

  • Public education is an open opportunity for all.
  • High school diplomas are a meaningful passport to future opportunities.
  • Every high school student graduates:
    • Meeting the requirements to apply to a UC and/or CSU
    • Prepared to do college-level coursework without remediation
    • Ready to succeed in college.
  • Race or income do not determine the options a student has upon graduation.
  • Parents know if their child is on track to graduating with a “college-ready” diploma and prepared for college-level academics.

Schools and districts are held accountable to preparing all students for success after high school.

My child has good grades and a high GPA. Doesn’t that mean he/she is going to be prepared for college?

There is broad consensus that student grades and GPAs are highly subjective and poor measures of student achievement. That’s because not all schools hold the same high bar for students nor give them challenging assignments and supports. New research from TNTP found that while the majority of students (71%) are doing what is asked of them, succeeding on their assignments and earning As and Bs, very few (17%) actually meet grade-level standards on those assignments. That is because students are often being assigned work that is below their grade level.

Even if your child has taken A-G classes and received high marks in those classes, it’s important to look beyond grades to determine if your child is being prepared for college. The 11th grade CAASPP test measures whether your child is on grade-level.

Your materials focus a lot on being eligible for a four-year state university (UC/CSU eligibility). What if I’m planning to go to community college?

Even if you aren’t planning to go to a UC or CSU immediately, completing your A-G requirements is an important step to take in high school. It helps you make sure you’re getting the preparation you need to do well in community college and university. If you also take the most challenging classes available, you can actually start to earn college credit while still in high school.

This can all save you a lot of time and money.

Students who do not complete A-G requirements are likely to end up in remedial courses in community college. These are courses offered at the college level that cover high school level material. This disproportionately affects Latino and African American students who get put into remedial courses at higher rates than their white and Asian peers. Nearly all (87%) of Latino and African American students who enroll in community college are required to enroll in remedial coursework.

Taking and passing the A-G course sequence helps ensure that students avoid the setbacks of remedial coursework and enter the community college system on track to graduate.

What are the A-G requirements?

To be eligible for a four-year public college (either the California State University or University of California systems), you must pass 15 required courses with a grade of C or better. You need this in order to be eligible to apply to a UC or CSU.

Students must pass all 15 of the A-G courses with a grade of C or better and maintain a grade point average of at least a C (or at some schools a 3.0, which is roughly equivalent).

Course # of Years
A History/social science One year of world history, cultures and historical geography and two semesters of U.S. history, or one semester of U.S. history and one semester of American government or civics.
B English Four years of college preparatory English that integrates reading of classic and modern literature, frequent and regular writing, and practice listening and speaking.
C Mathematics Three years of college-preparatory mathematics including or integrating topics covered in:§  Elementary algebra§ Advanced algebra§ Two- and three-dimensional geometry

Also acceptable are courses that address the above content areas, and include or integrate:

§  Trigonometry

§  Statistics

D Laboratory science Two years, providing fundamental knowledge in two of the following disciplines:§  Biology§ Chemistry§ Physics
E Language other than English Two years of the same non-English language
F Visual and performing arts One year chosen from dance, drama/theater, music or visual art.
G College-preparatory elective One year of§  An additional approved “a-f” course beyond the minimum required for that subject area, or of a course that; or§  A course that combines any of the “a-f” subject areas in an interdisciplinary fashion

Check out our A-G blog to learn more.

What is the California School Dashboard?

The California School Dashboard shows how schools and districts in California are doing on a range of important measures of school quality. These include English and math test scores, attendance, discipline, preparation for college and more. The dashboard also has data on how schools are doing for diverse students, including those of different ethnic backgrounds, incomes, students with disabilities and English Learners. Learn more about the California School Dashboard on our blog, and check out the California Dashboard FAQs put together by the CDE.

What is the California School Dashboard College/Career Indicator (CCI)?

The College/Career Indicator (CCI) is a measure on the California School Dashboard that the state uses to determine whether schools are preparing students for college or career.

The CCI was designed to encourage high schools to provide all students with a rigorous and broad course of study to support their success after high school. The state rated schools on this indicator for the first time in November 2018.

Learn more by reading our blog post here.


Why does the College/Career Indicator (CCI) matter?

For decades, the state has primarily focused on graduation rates. The CCI is a big step forward in raising the bar for what’s expected of high schools. It adds more measures for schools to track, and better informs the community so they can hold schools accountable.

No quantitative measure of student performance is perfect, particularly when that measure is “preparedness” for college. The CCI allows for a deeper look at how schools and districts across California are preparing students for life after high school graduation.

The CCI presents multiple pathways for college and/or career readiness. We believe parents should be aware of these pathways and should help students prioritize the pathways that will allow them the greatest number of options after high school graduation.


Are all of the College/Career Indicator pathways equal?

Not every CCI pathway is a direct path to college. Some are clear college pathways and others are clear career pathways.

For the purposes of our College Readiness series, we broke out the CCI pathways into three categories:

  • Make sure you’re eligible for college
  • Challenge yourself academically to prepare for college
  • Explore potential career options for after high school and college

We recommend that all students prioritize college eligibility (which includes completing the A-G requirements), and set up an academic foundation for college through challenging coursework. Even if students do not choose to attend college, this gives them more options after they graduate.

Are all of the programs tracked in the College/Career Indicator available at all high schools? Are school districts required to offer all of these pathways?

Many school districts offer access to multiple College/Career indicator pathways. The only pathway schools are required to provide is completion of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). Every 11th grader without an approved written request must complete the English/Language Arts and math CAASPP assessment.

Many California high schools offer the full A-G course sequence, but under California law, high schools are not required to offer these courses. Schools are only required to meet the graduation course requirements.  

Around half of all California districts require that students complete A-G requirements before graduating from high school. Many Bay Area districts–like San Jose Unified, Oakland Unified, and San Francisco Unified–have adopted some version of this policy.

Access to the other pathways varies by school. On the GreatSchools website, you can find some information on the classes and programs offered by different schools.

What is the College Readiness Content Series?

The College Readiness Content Series is a series of blog posts by Innovate Public Schools offering stories, advice, tools, and information for California parents to help them make sure their child graduates from high school ready for college.

The goals of the Content Series are to

  • highlight the reality that graduation alone isn’t necessarily a ticket to college for low-income students in California,
  • equip parents with the tools to explore California’s college-readiness data and hold schools accountable,
  • investigate outcomes for high school graduates in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, and
  • identify district practices that extend college readiness and college access for more students.

The College Readiness Content Series will culminate with Innovate’s 2019 Top Public Schools event, where we’ll explain how college readiness is weighed in our new methodology for identifying top high schools.