Academic Preparation & Placement
Use this Academic Preparation guide (PDF) to understand placement in first-year General Education (GE) English and math courses for first-time freshmen and to learn about the CSU’s Early Start Program.
The California State University (CSU) is committed to providing students a successful college experience and has implemented measures to ensure first-time freshmen are placed in appropriate GE courses in English and math. These courses are known as written communication and mathematics/quantitative reasoning (QR). The goal is for students to be fully prepared and successful at the CSU campus they attend.
How Does the CSU’s Academic Preparation Policy Help First-Time Freshmen?
There are several ways to determine which GE English and math courses are right for each student. Many factors known as “multiple measures” will be used to evaluate each student’s academic preparation in these subjects.
Why Does This Matter?
- An early assessment of English and math skills can better prepare students for college-level coursework
- Multiple measures provide students different ways to demonstrate college readiness
- The use of high school coursework is shown to be a strong predictor of a student’s success in college
- This allows the university to enroll students in GE English and math courses that are aligned with their needs and career goals
Multiple Measures for Placement Include:
- Standardized Tests: CAASPP/EAP, ACT, SAT, AP, IB, and CLEP
- High School Grade Point Average (GPA)
- High School and College Coursework*
- High School Math GPA
The CSU will use the highest achieved measure to determine placement in the appropriate GE English and math/QR courses.
Why are Standardized Assessments (CAASPP/EAP, SAT, ACT) Important?
The assessments provide an early indicator of students’ readiness to take GE English and math courses. Taking these assessments in their junior year gives students the opportunity to strengthen their skills during their senior year by enrolling in appropriate courses.
How is the EAP Status Determined?
The CSU uses the CAASPP in English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics to determine a student’s Early Assessment Program (EAP) status. In the spring of their junior year, students take the CAASPP English Language Arts/Literacy and math exams, also referred to as SBAC.
How Do Students Obtain CAASPP/EAP Scores?
The CAASPP/EAP scores are included in the CAASPP Student Score Report the school district provides to students in early fall of the senior year.
Who Should Enroll in the CSU Expository Reading and Writing (ERWC) Course?
The ERWC course is a 12th grade approved year-long college- preparatory English course designed to strengthens students’ skills to be better prepared for college coursework. The course is a component of the CSU’s Early Assessment Program (EAP) and approved as an “a-g” (subject area “b”) course for UC & CSU college eligibility.
Students needing additional preparation in their senior year, as determined by CAASPP/EAP, SAT or ACT results, should take a 12th grade approved year-long English course. The CSU highly recommends students to enroll in the ERWC course, if offered at their high school. The completion of the ERWC course with a C- or better is considered for placement in GE English courses. AP, IB and weighted Honors English are also 12th grade approved year- long courses seniors may take to meet the requirement (must earn a C- or better). See English Placement Checklist for more information.
Why Take a Senior Year Math Course?
Taking a math course in their senior year strengthens students’ skills to be better prepared for college coursework. Other advantages include potential reduction in college costs and accelerated graduation. The CSU highly recommends students complete a fourth year of math (must earn a C- or better) and will consider the completion of four years of math for placement in GE math courses.
Students needing additional preparation in their senior year, as determined by CAASPP/EAP, SAT or ACT results, should take a 12th grade approved math course beyond algebra II. See Math Placement Checklists for more information.
*Coursework must be completed with a C- or better.
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