Senate Education Committee Approves Senator Leyva’s “College Access for All Act”

SB 309 Will Help Better Prepare High School Students to Attend a UC or CSU

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

SACRAMENTO – Legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) ensuring that more students are able to successfully complete the University of California (UC) / California State University (CSU) A-G course requirements passed from the Senate Education Committee earlier today. 

SB 309—also known as the “College Access for All Act”—will improve college access and preparation by helping ensure that more California students are eligible to attend a UC or CSU directly from high school.  The measure takes a multifaceted approach to increase successful student access to the UC / CSU A-G course requirements.  In order to enhance the availability of A-G courses, SB 309 funds $150 million dollars in access grants to local educational agencies with a UC / CSU A-G completion rate of less than 45% of all students.  It also funds $50 million dollars in success grants for local educational agencies that have taken on the challenge of incorporating the UC / CSU A-G course requirements into their local graduation requirements, but whose UC / CSU A-G completion remains below 80% overall—with an emphasis on directing funding to those students in danger of not achieving the necessary grade of “C” or better in an A-G course, in order to fulfill the promise of UC / CSU eligibility.

“When only half of graduating high school students in California meet the coursework requirements to attend a UC or CSU, we clearly have a problem that must be addressed,” Senator Leyva said.  “SB 309 will help ensure that all high school students—and particularly socioeconomically disadvantaged, homeless, English learner and foster students—are able to take classes during high school that will help prepare them to attend a public university in California.  It is critical that we set more California students on a path to success by leveling the playing field and making sure that they are well prepared and able to access opportunities for a college education.”

The bill also requires parents and guardians—starting in eighth grade—to be notified and educated on the UC / CSU A-G course requirements and their local educational agency’s own graduation requirements and UC / CSU completion rates.  SB 309 also underscores the requirement of school districts to offer all students a timely course of study that fulfills minimum requirements for admission to the University of California and the California State University, and expands that requirement to charter schools and county offices of education beginning with the 2026-27 school year.

Dating back to the early 1980’s, California’s current statewide high school graduation requirements are not aligned with the minimum admission requirements to the University of California and the California State University, known as the UC / CSU A-G course requirements.  Many local educational agencies have set graduation requirements that go beyond the minimum statewide requirements, and some have even incorporated the UC / CSU A-G course requirement.

The difference between the state’s minimum graduation requirements and the UC / CSU admission requirements—as well as variations across local education agencies—creates inequitable outcomes for California students and their eligibility to attend the UC or CSU.  As such, only half of California high school graduates are eligible for admission to our state’s public universities, and some of the state’s most disadvantaged students are eligible at even lower rates.

The most recent data from the California Department of Education notes that only 50.9% of all students who graduate from a California public school meet the minimum requirements to attend the University of California or the California State University.  The numbers are worse for the state’s most disadvantaged students: 42.8% for those from socioeconomically disadvantaged families, 29.2% for homeless students, 24.7% for English learners, and only 20.1% for foster youth.

SB 309 is co-sponsored by Asian Americans Advancing Justice - California and the College for All Coalition.  It is additionally supported by Asian Law Center      , AYPAL, Campaign for College Opportunity, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), Parent Organization Network, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center and The Education Trust – West.