California Diploma Project

The California Diploma Project (CDP) works with states across the country to bring value to the high school diploma by raising the rigor of high school standards, assessments and curriculum and aligning them to the demands of postsecondary education and careers. In California, the CDP brings together the Governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction with the leaders of the state’s four higher education segments and business community representatives to work together to expand the number of young people who enroll and succeed in post-secondary education and training. A review of California’s K-12 grade-level standards found that they correspond closely to national benchmarks and are not currently in need of revision. Among the few recommendations for improvement are to ensure that standards included in lower grades are fully reflected in later grades. A subsequent review suggests that California’s K-12 standards are relatively well aligned with expectations in the state’s post-secondary education systems. The CDP is therefore focused on helping California leaders to reach agreement on the use of a common assessment that would serve as an indicator of satisfactory progress toward college readiness. The proposed instrument is the augmented 11th grade California Standards Test (CST), which is the cornerstone of the Early Assessment Program (EAP). Students who perform satisfactorily on the augmented CST would be exempted from remedial coursework and placed into credit-bearing courses upon admission to one of California’s colleges and universities. The augmented CST already serves this purpose in the California State University system. The California Community Colleges are currently developing a plan for implementing EAP, including use of the augmented CST to place students in non-remedial, credit-bearing courses. The University of California is conducting an independent analysis of to determine whether the augmented CST could serve as a standard of readiness for their students as well. With the continued support of signatories and funders, subsequent phases of the CDP may address additional issues, including:

  • Defining the course sequence and course content necessary to prepare all students for college and careers, and addressing related course access issues,
  • Ensuring that the EAP process responds to the diverse needs of students pursuing multiple pathways through high school, and
  • Clarifying standards and expectations within and among the multiple segments of the post-secondary education system to support students’ access, mobility, and success.

The current phase of the project is managed by Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), an independent, non-partisan policy research center and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the James Irvine Foundation.

Institute Meeting, October 26-27, 2009

Meeting Presentations

EAP and College Readiness Materials for California

EAP Analysis

California Community Colleges: Mathematics

California Community Colleges: English-Language Arts


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PACE thanks these funders and sponsors for their financial support