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June 2, 1997

Task force recommends UC partnership with public schools

By Terry Colvin, UC Office of the President

The University of California's Outreach Task Force has issued a draft report for public review that recommends that--in order to improve students' college preparation--UC undertake a major expansion of its academic outreach to the state's K-12 schools, creating long-term partnerships with selected high schools and their associated junior high and elementary feeder schools.

Under the plan, which results from more than a year of meetings and research by the 35-member task force, each UC campus would work intensively with a group of partner schools which would be selected based on significant educational disadvantage, such as low numbers of college-bound students or limited college preparatory courses. UC partner schools also would be chosen based on their potential for improvement and their willingness to participate in collaborative efforts with the university.

UC is inviting public comment on the plan. During the comment period, the report will be available over the World Wide Web. It has also been distributed to more than 40 educational organizations statewide and to every school principal in California

"This inaugurates an exciting new chapter in the university's longstanding partnership with California's K-12 schools," said Richard C. Atkinson, UC president. "The task force has outlined a comprehensive and holistic approach that tackles the difficult problems connected with educational disadvantage. The result is a plan that will lead UC's outreach efforts into the next century."

The task force was established by the UC Board of Regents following the Regents' adoption in July 1995 of a new admissions policy that eliminates the use of race, ethnicity, and gender. Recognizing the value of diversity in future student enrollment, the Regents commissioned the task force to identify ways in which outreach programs to make prospective students aware of and prepared for rigorous UC study could be used to assure UC remains accessible to students from diverse backgrounds.

The resulting task force, which began holding meetings in February 1996, includes Regents, faculty, staff, and students from all UC campuses; representatives from business and industry; representatives from California's major educational sectors including K-12, the Community Colleges, and the California State University; and state officials from the Department of Education and the Postsecondary Education Commission.

The task force is cochaired by Richard A. Clarke, retired president and chief executive officer of Pacific Gas & Electric Co., and C. Judson King, UC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

"What the task force has proposed is a major change in the way UC seeks to solve a very old problem of qualifying for university admission more students from all sectors of the state's diverse population," Clarke said. "We are doing nothing less than preparing the future leaders of California to work in the global economy, and the success of those enterprises rests on the academic training of students today."

King said, "The task force affirmed the value of the university's outreach efforts over the last 30 years which is evidenced by the fact that these programs contributed to creating the most diverse university student body in the nation." "Regardless of these efforts, a gap clearly continues to exist between the very high standards of achievement required for UC admission and the uneven record of students from different socioeconomic, ethnic, racial, and geographic backgrounds in achieving UC eligibility," he said. "We believe this plan will narrow that gap significantly and make outreach the university's primary tool for recruiting a diverse student body."

The task force's broad-based review of UC's outreach goals, strategies, and programs included hearing testimony from experts, research commissioned by the task force, and many hours of discussion and deliberation before it issued its 50-page draft report. At the conclusion of the monthlong public review period, the task force will finalize its report and forward its recommendations to the Regents.

The task force devised a plan that addresses a broad range of issues influencing student academic performance:

The task force, which reviewed the work of other successful university outreach programs in the nation, said outreach efforts should help to create a learning environment in which all students--regardless of where they live and irrespective of race, gender or family economic circumstances--have roughly the same opportunity to prepare for higher education.

The plan also calls for each UC campus, in collaboration with its participating K-12 schools and other regional partners, to establish numerical goals and time lines for increasing student eligibility rates.

The task force proposes that over the next five years partner schools double the number of UC-eligible graduates or increase the rate of UC eligibility by 4 percentage points, whichever is greater.

The goal for statewide UC academic development programs such as MESA and Puente will be to double their number of UC-eligible program graduates. And each UC campus would increase by 200 percent the number of outreach contacts it makes for counseling, tutoring, workshops, and school visits with elementary, middle school, high school, and community college students and families from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Longer term goals would also be established to ensure the ongoing success of outreach programs. The UC president and chancellors would be responsible for achieving the goals.

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A copy of the full draft report of the UC Outreach Task Force is available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.ucop.edu/acadaff/otf/cover1.html

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