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What are some creative ways to get students "back on track" for UC/CSU?

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The definition of on-track is a student who will have taken the 15 required "a-g" courses by graduation, has at least a 2.0 GPA for CSU or 3.0 for UC, and has taken (or will take) the required college entrance exams. The TES Benchmarks chart on the right is just one example of how a student can stay on track from one grade level to the next. (Printable version of chart.)

There are different ways to become UC eligible. Visit the UC web site to understand the options.

1. What to do with Ds or Fs (subject deficiencies)?
A grade of C or better is required to fulfill a subject requirement. D and F grades are not acceptable and must be cleared by repeating the class, completing advanced coursework in the same subject area (for math or a language other than English), or attaining certain minimum scores on SAT, AP or IB exams. More information is available on this as well.

Regardless of whether the student validates a D or F with advanced coursework in the same subject area, he or she should be advised to retake the course in order to have the grade replaced with a C or better. Leaving a D or F on a student’s transcript has a significant negative impact their GPA.

2. What to do about ELD (English Language Development) and ESL (English as a Second Language) classes?
ELD and ESL courses are only acceptable for a maximum of one year (two semesters), provided they are advanced college-preparatory courses with strong emphasis on reading and writing. Such courses must deal specifically with rhetorical, grammatical and syntactical forms of English—especially those that show cross-linguistic influence—and must provide explicit work in vocabulary development.

3. What about Sheltered/SDAIE courses?
Sheltered or Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE) courses may be used to satisfy all areas of the Subject Requirement except the Language Other Than English (e) requirement. Acceptable Sheltered/SDAIE courses must be equivalent in contact and skills to comparable courses taught in the same subject area in English. For example, to be certified to meet the mathematics (c) requirement, Sheltered Algebra must be equivalent to Algebra I. These courses must also be listed on the school’s "a-g" course list. If not, they will not be considered towards CSU/UC eligibility. For more information on how to submit courses that might qualify, go to the Increasing Access to "a-g" Curriculum section of this website.

4. What if a student is missing "a-g" courses?
Only courses in mathematics and foreign language can be validated by taking a higher-level course. All other courses must be taken at the high school, a community college, or possibly online (see #8 below).

There are also additional methods that a student can utilize to certify the two-year Language Other Than English (LOTE) requirement. For more information, go to the Quick Reference for Counselors, page 5.

5. Summer School
Because many schools have limited options when it comes to summer school, most of the availability goes to students who need remediation, which usually means students who received an F. The CSUs, UCs, and most private schools will not accept a D so it is in the student’s best interest to enroll in summer school to replace that grade. If this isn’t possible at one's own campus, students should look into the possibility of other schools within the school district or even outside the district, including private schools.

6. Community Colleges
Community colleges offer a wide range of courses and programs. For students planning to apply directly to 4-year institutions, many community colleges offer the particularly valuable resource of courses that students can substitute for a failing grade in a high school course. This course must be a direct substitute (in terms of curriculum) for the failed class.
At many community colleges, students can also take courses that supplement their high school education, for example an advanced mathematics class not offered at one’s home school. If the course they take at the community college is CSU/UC transferable, they will also get an extra GPA point. Some community colleges have policies regarding high school students taking courses for remediation. Students who are interested in enrolling in community college classes should closely investigate the rules regarding that course. UC and CSU determine which community college courses are transfer-eligible (and this may vary by campus). In addition, many community colleges have restrictions on what courses a high school student can take.

7. University programs
Every UC campus has an extension program where students can enroll in courses. For more information, go to the UC Extension web site.

California state academic preparation programs may also give students access to a-g courses if they are enrolled in their programs. Web sites for EAOP, MESA, and PUENTE provide information on a few such programs.

8. Online courses
Many web sites and resources are available for students interested in taking high school courses online. These vary greatly in quality, course availability and cost. Visit the National Education Association’s website for information on what to look for in online courses.

To be accepted for course credit at the University of California, online courses must be offered from a sanctioned provider and the course must have been approved for a-g credit. UC will not accept an online course that the high school does not review and accept as part of the student’s transcript. Make sure the student always asks their high school whether or not they will accept the course before they enroll in it. For more information on UC’s policies and rules regarding online courses, go to the Doorways home page and follow the links to information about online courses.

There are also many websites that offer online courses.  Some recommended sites are:

There are several restrictions on what types of online courses UC will accept. For example, Brigham Young University (BYU) has not been approved as an official UC provider, meaning that courses taken through BYU must specifically be approved by one's own school principal to potentially be eligible for a-g course credit. For more specific information about how UC views on-line courses, go to the  "a-g" guide FAQ on the UC Doorways website.

9. Private schools
Check with private schools in your local area to see if they would allow students from your district to attend their summer sessions, whether there are fees for such courses, and whether they offer scholarships to outside students.


TES Benchmarks

UCOP 2005

This site details benchmarks that students should meet in order be "on track" for the University of California and the California State University. TES_Benchmarks.pdf (24.28KB)

Options for Satisfying the UC Subject Requirement

University of California, Office of the President

Different options of how to satisfy the subjects under the a-g requirements.

UC Extension

University of California, Office of the President

By offering accessible and relevant courses, UC Extension provides knowledge and connections for people to achieve their personal and professional goals.

Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP)

University of California, Office of the President

The University of California’s largest academic preparation program, EAOP works directly with students at underserved schools to increase the number of students who have the opportunity to achieve a college education.

Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA)

University of California, Office of the President

One of the country’s most innovative and successful programs, MESA works with thousands of educationally disadvantaged students so that they can excel in math and science and graduate with math-based degrees.

Puente Project

University of California, Office of the President

The Puente Project is an academic preparation program whose mission is to increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students who enroll in four-year colleges and universities, earn college degrees and return to the community as mentors and leaders of future generations.

NEA Guide to Online Courses

National Education Association

Helpful information on how to choose online high school courses. Includes a link to an online course guide, pdf.

University of California College Prep Online

University of California, Office of the President

UCCP develops and distributes high-quality courses and course content to benefit California students, with a special emphasis on helping underserved students prepare for college eligibility.Because UCCP has been approved as a provider of online courses, some of its courses may be eligible for a-g credit.

Cyber High School

Fresno County Office of Education

Cyber High is a comprehensive electronic high school that is available to any student with Internet access. The Cyber High curriculum is aligned with the Content Standards and Frameworks of California. Because Cyber High has been approved as a provider of online courses by the University of California, some of its courses may be eligible for a-g credit.

BYU Online High School

Brigham Young University

Online high school courses available through Brigham Young University. Note: UC does not accept online courses offered through BYU unless that course has been certified directly by the student's principal as equivalent to the school's on-site a-g eligible course.

National University Virtual High School

National University Virtual High School

Founded in 2004, National University Virtual High School (NUVHS) offers a wide array of high school courses on line. online learning experience. Because NUVHS has been approved as a provider of online courses by the University of California, some of its courses may be eligible for a-g credit.


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Last modified on 1/1/2010

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