EQUITY ALERT: As White House Convenes Summit on Community Colleges, New Equity Alert Reveals Too Few California Students Transfer to Four-Year Institutions


Analysis of California Community College data by The Education Trust—West reveals appallingly low transfer rates for all students throughout California, particularly for students of color

OAKLAND, CA (October 5, 2010)  As the White House convenes the first-ever Summit on Community Colleges today, a new Equity Alert by The Education Trust—West reveals that an inexcusably low number of California community college students actually transfer to a four-year institution in order to earn a bachelor’s degree.  The Equity Alert, titled California Community Colleges: Lost in the Path to a Bachelor’s Degree, focuses on a cohort of those students who showed intent to transfer to a four-year college. According to the findings, after two years, only 6 percent of students system-wide who have shown an intent to transfer to a four-year institution were actually able to do so.  In particular, the rates of transfer for African-American and Latino students are unconscionably low. Only 4 percent of African-American students and 3 percent of Latino students who show intent to transfer actually transfer after two years.

“California’s Community College system is not living up to the spirit of The California Master Plan for Higher Education,” said Dr. Arun Ramanathan, Executive Director of The Education Trust—West, a statewide education advocacy organization that works to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement for students of color and students in poverty.   “In the Master Plan, the state built in the transfer pathway as part of a commitment to access to higher education for all Californians.  This new report shows how the transfer pathway is woefully failing those very students who view it as a means to complete a bachelor’s degree and build a better future.”

For many California high school students, the community college system is the most realistic and accessible higher education option.  In high school, students hear the message that two years of coursework in a community college is a gateway to a four-year degree.  According to the report, transfer rates remain low even after six years.  In addition, sizable gaps grow between the transfer rates for African-American, Latino, Native American, and Pacific Islanders and their white peers over six years.  In fact, although the transfer rates get better as more time goes by, the gap between many students of color and white students actually widens over time.

With projections from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) that California will face a shortage of one million bachelor’s degree holders for the workforce by 2025, California has reached a pivotal point where the lack of college graduates can no longer be ignored.  The state’s workforce needs cannot be met through the high school to four-year college pathway alone.  The community college transfer pathway will play an increasingly critical role in ensuring that California has an educated and competitive workforce.

“California’s community college students scored a major victory last week when Governor Schwarzenegger signed historic community college transfer legislation that streamlines the transfer pathway between community colleges and the California State Universities,” said Ramanathan.  “However, we know that we still have a long way to go with regard to fulfilling the hopes and dreams of millions of community college students.  We must continue to streamline the transfer process, provide accountability for results, and ensure that California produces the college graduates needed to keep our state competitive and innovative,” he concluded.

To read the full Equity Alert, see the attachment below.
CCC Transfer Rate Equity Alert Oct 2010


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About The Education Trust—West

The Education Trust—West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, kindergarten through college, and to forever close the achievement gaps separating low-income students and students of color from other youth. Our basic tenet is this— All children will learn at high levels when they are taught to high levels.

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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.