Ready, Set… No


By Jerrold H. Jensen

Most Tulare County high schools lag behind the rest of the state in producing graduates qualified for admission to the University of California or the California State University system. The requirements are clearly stated on their web sites: “Admission to the CSU as a freshman takes into account the specific courses you completed in high school, your grades in those classes, your test scores on the ACT or SAT, and graduating from high school.”

They require students to study specific areas including four years of English, three years of math and two years each of history and social science, laboratory science, and language other than English, plus one year of visual/performing arts and a college preparatory elective. Applicants must also have a satisfactory grade point average.

With all that as background, the accompanying chart recaps the percent of 2018 Tulare County high school graduates that met those admission requirements. The source data is posted on the California Department of Education Dataquest web site at Educators may debate whether one school grades easier or harder than another, but these results reflect the state’s easy to read online records. 

Only 37% of Tulare County graduates qualified in 2018 and just two mainstream schools beat the State average. Orosi high school leads the pack despite having 97% of their students classified as “Socioeconomically Disadvantaged” and 29% as English Learners. Woodlake high school has similar demographics but ranks at the bottom of the list.

Locally, the Tulare Union High School District beat their Visalia Unified District rivals by 45% to 31%. Similarly, Exeter Union High’s 44% success rate was higher than three of four Visalia schools.

Tulare Union was the only high school in the County that registered a higher mathematics testing score than the state average. Perhaps the relatively low math scores in other schools had a major negative impact on their qualifications for the UC/CSU system. School guidance counselors obviously have a key role in helping students develop a roadmap of the courses and grades they will need if they hope to move directly into the University system. 

The highly selective smaller “magnet” and charter high schools in the County have a very high success rate. They include Harmony Magnet Academy in Strathmore at 92% and Visalia’s University Prep school that qualified 83% of their graduates.

Visalia educators, Trustees and parents may be shocked to discover fewer than 20% of the Golden West and Mt. Whitney, graduates met the requirements for UC/CSU admission. Don’t blame this poor writer—these are the state’s numbers, not mine. As poker players often say “Read ‘em and weep”—clearly, some tears should be shed over these sad numbers.

Jerrold Jensen is a retired sales manager for an international consumer goods company. After 30 years of assignments in the Southern and Western U.S., he and his wife retired near family in Visalia. He enjoys analyzing data and tries to simplify it for readers before writing his guest columns for Central Valley publications.

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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