“It is not about whether kids go to college, it’s that it should be their choice. We should not be the gatekeepers; we should be the gateway.”

Dr. Linda Murray



Today in West Contra Costa public schools:

Only 49%

of our graduates are eligible to apply to UC or CSU systems – and that's of the 83 percent who graduate

Only 2 in 5

of our eleventh graders are prepared for entry level college English classes and

1 in 5

is prepared in Math – these numbers are significantly lower for Latino and African American students

In hundreds of conversations with parents, students, educators and community allies, a universal theme emerged– the desire for our young people to have access to the post-secondary opportunities of their choosing. Yet, as our eleventh graders inch closer to leaving our high schools, only 5 percent are unconditionally ready for college-level mathematics classes, while 16 percent are unconditionally ready for college-level English courses.

And once our young people graduate, over half hold a diploma that does not permit them to apply to California’s universities.

These statistics highlight the challenges our young people experience. In order to thrive in our evolving economy, students will need different skills and knowledge to succeed. Jobs in general, are rapidly shifting from what they used to be. It is expected that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require some form of post-secondary education or training. To ensure that all of our young people have access to a path of their choosing after high school, we must start now.

Our Work

Our College Readiness Study Team – comprised of local teachers, parents, community partners, and GO staff – dedicated over 300 hours to research and meetings, with the goal of identifying potential pathways to change the current data we see in WCCUSD and removing the barriers our students experience around college readiness and college eligibility.


Since opening our doors, we have held hundreds of meetings and engagement sessions with families, educators, and youth. The one theme we ccontinue to hear universally is the desire of our young people to have acces to oportunities after high school.Often, that desire is summoned up by ensuring our young people are prepared for, and able to attend college. Yet, over half of West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) graduates leave our schools with a diploma that does not permit them to apply for California’s public universities.


In discussing college-going aspirations with the West Contra Costa comunity, two key, interdependent bodies of work surfaced: 1) increasing college eligibility, with a focus on high school policies and practices that act as barriers to matriculation and success and 2) identifying the root cause of chronically low college readines rate, starting with kindergarten interventions.

Our College Rediness Study Team – comprised of staff, parents, educators, and community partners – researched policies and practices in the field and presented their initial findings to districts leaders.

We then released a set of policy recommendations focused on how to advance learning for the 9,000 English Learners currently in our schools.


After sharing our initial findings with the board, we were excited to see movement toward increasing college eligibility and readiness in West Contra Costa schools:

-The district partnered with the University of California to gain access to their Transcript Evaluation Service (TES). TES scans student records to monitor student progress toward meeting A-G requirements.

-The Office of College and Career Pathways completed an analysis of data points that impact A-G eligibility. The results informed shifts in programming and resource allocation.

After presenting initial findings to district leaders, our College Readiness Study Team proposed the following next steps:

College Eligibility Analysis

The district publicly release their analysis of the current state of college eligibility, and the obstacles and opportunities to improve outcomes.

Community Engagement

A multi-stakeholder team of district leaders and community partners work together to design a clearly articulated pathway for all students to graduate college eligible.

A-G Eligibility For All

District staff develop a proposal and financial analysis of what it would cost to help all students achieve A-G eligibility, including additional needs for summer school, online courses, and instructional blocks to ensure students achieve a “C” or better in all A-G courses.

A-G Progress Monitoring

District staff explore developing capacity to centrally track student-by-student course assignments and progress to graduation and A-G eligibility.

We then conducted research and authored a policy brief with recommendations to support the 9,000 English Learners in our schools.

Align Programs

Not one of our early learning centers leverages the linguistic capital of our emergent bilingual students. The district must create and align the language programming across early learning and elementary sites to establish clear and consistent language and literary objectives. Further the district must align language programs through middle and high school.

Sustain Efforts

Administrators are impermanent; school board governance ensures turnover. Students and teachers need focus sustained through these transitions. The district must take specific steps to ensure continuity.

Develop Resources

Human and material resources work in concert to create an effective, integrated system. Currently, there is a mismatch between the district’s stated goals and their investments in achieving them. We ask that the district dedicate resources to ELs to better support our teachers and their classrooms.

Engage Parents

When parents have agency, students do better. Our district must make systemic improvements to inform parents how to both choose a language program for their child and support their child through the chosen program.


Monitoring Eligibility

The district partnered with the University of California to gain access to their Transcript Evaluation Service (TES). The TES scans all student records to monitor progress towards A-G eligibility and produces reports so that key stakeholders can understand a student’s progress to date, and intervene if necessary.

Restructuring Summer School

Summer school was restructured to help seniors recover remaining credits needed for graduation and/or UC/CSU eligibility. Additionally, summer school programming intentionally focused on helping freshmen get back on track to graduation.

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