Early Start report gets an “Incomplete”

The state Legislative Analyst’s Office issued a report required by state law on Jan 14 about the CSU’s much-debated Early Start Program.

See the LAO report

Early Start, which has gone through various iterations since the initial CSU Executive Order in 2010, is intended to accelerate remediation of entering students who are eligible for the CSU under California’s Master Plan for Higher Education but who need improvement in English and/or math.

Prior to Early Start, entering students became CSU freshmen and had one-year to get up to develop proficiency. The great majority succeeded.

The CSU administration has invested millions into Early Start, in addition to the tuition students pay for remedial coursework, and indicates it will invest more. Under Early Start, if entering students’ scores on math and/or English placement tests are below a certain threshold, they are required to take remediation courses in the summer before they can be matriculated as CSU students. To date, students who enroll, pay tuition and attend Early Start classes are then permitted to become CSU freshmen, regardless of their success in Early Start classes.

The rather dense LAO report provides no clear information on whether Early Start has reduced the time taken to remediate students. In fact, there is no information on the proportion of Early Start enrollees who became proficient, were not remediated or were disenrolled from the CSU one year after completing the program.

This information was required in the law calling for LAO reports that passed the legislature in 2012 (AB 2497, Solario) and is necessary to understand if the program works.

The LAO reported that the Early Start data provided by the CSU included no information about results achieved in summer 2012 and no mention of summer 2013, even though this information was forwarded by the campuses to the CSU Chancellor’s Office. Instead, the CSU reported only the demographics of the students who participated in Early Start during 2012.

Since the LAO report’s release, CSU Chancellor Timothy White’s office has promised the CSU Academic Senate that all available data including outcomes achieved in 2012 will be provided.

CFA Vice President Kim Geron, who has critiqued Early Start since its beginning, said, 
“It is important to know the results of the Early Start program to assess whether the cost is justified. And, historically underrepresented students deserve to know how they did compared to others.”

Geron added, “The legislature and the public deserve to get good information on this program.  It affects large numbers of California’s students.  Will they get to go to college and have a shot at a good future?”

Learn more about Early Start on the CSU English Council web page