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February 15, 1999

UC and College Board create joint outreach effort

By Terry Lightfoot
UC Office of the President

The University of California and the College Board have joined forces in a pilot program designed to increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students prepared to enroll at UC.

The pilot program is the first in which the College Board will partner with a university to administer the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT) and use the results to advise students in their academic preparation for UC.

Under the pilot, UC's Early Academic Opportunity Program (EAOP) will administer the PSAT to students participating in UC's academic development programs such as EAOP, Math Engineering Science Achievement (MESA), and the Puente Project to strengthen individual students' academic skills.

The test will be given to students as early as the eighth grade to allow for an early assessment of a student's academic strengths and weaknesses. The results will be used to develop individual academic plans and to help schools improve their college preparatory programs.

"This agreement will allow UC's already successful outreach programs to provide an additional level of evaluation that will increase our students' chances of becoming eligible and competitive for admission at the university," said Karl S. Pister, senior associate to the UC president, leader of the university's outreach initiative, and former UCSC chancellor. "The willingness of the College Board to institute this unique collaboration indicates its support for UC's efforts to extend educational opportunities to students from all backgrounds."

The university is seeking to increase the number of students eligible for UC from its student outreach programs by 100 percent. In addition, it is working to increase the number of eligible graduates from those programs who are competitive for admission at the campuses or programs of choice by 50 percent.

UC has intensified its outreach efforts in response to changes in university policy and state law that eliminated the use of race and gender as criteria in admissions. The university's student outreach programs serve nearly 80,000 students and prepare a large proportion of them for college. Nearly 65 percent of the programs' participants go on to college compared to 53.2 percent of all students statewide.

"The College Board recognizes that changes in California have challenged the university to seek new ways to ensure diversity. This partnership reflects our support for those outreach efforts and our mutual interest in promoting academic access and academic excellence," said Kris Zavoli, director of admissions and guidance services for the College Board.

UC will begin administering the tests in March.

The university and schools will provide as many fee waivers as needed to test all students in UC's academic development programs. The test results will also be used to evaluate how well UC partner schools are preparing students for college and help them develop more rigorous programs.

"The value of administering the PSAT is that it provides a non-threatening reflection of the students and the school," said Ben Tucker, UC manager of EAOP. "Not only will we be able to better advise students, but we will also be able to help shape enrichment programs and make recommendations regarding a school's curriculum.

In general, the PSAT is administered by high schools to students in the 11th grade, too late to improve a student's preparation for college. "Testing students earlier will be the first step in making more educationally disadvantaged students competitive for admission at all UC campuses," Tucker said.

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