During their November meeting, the California State University Board of Trustees received an update on Graduation Initiative 2025 that highlighted achievements as well as the need for increased funding to continue the initiative’s success.

Graduation Initiative 2025 is the university-wide effort to improve student achievement by identifying and improving key areas that may serve as barriers to student success, ensuring that all students have the opportunity to graduate in a timely manner.

One highlighted achievement showed that in 2016-17, the CSU graduated 7,000 additional students above the previous year, resulting in nearly 99,000 undergraduate degrees conferred. 

“These students join the ranks of the CSU’s 3.4 million alumni,” said CSU Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Loren Blanchard. “With their degrees in hand, they are positioned to earn 66 percent more than those with only a high school diploma.”

The CSU also reported that 4- and 6-year graduation rates for freshmen and 2- and 4-year graduation rates for transfer students are at all-time highs.

In addition to graduation rates being the CSU’s highest to date, a recent study presented to the board showed that first-time freshmen are on track to earn their degrees an average of one term earlier, allowing them to collect a salary sooner and avoid paying for an additional term of college.

CSU trustees also received an update on recent policy changes to support the achievement goals associated with Graduation Initiative 2025. These changes are intended to reexamine the treatment of historically underserved students, who are far more likely to be required to take developmental education courses.

Executive Order 1100-Revised is intended to establish a common understanding of the requirements for CSU General Education Breadth (GE) so that all students are able to complete their degrees in a timely manner. 

Changes to the policy include specifying to students the number of maximum allowable GE courses and allowing courses to “double count,” meaning that one course will satisfy a GE and degree requirement.

The order also expands the options for completing the quantitative reasoning requirement through a greater variety of courses, such as finance or statistics, allowing students to satisfy the requirement with courses more aligned with their major choice and career interests. 

Executive Order 1110 is intended to improve student success by more accurately assessing a student’s ability to perform in college-level courses and expanding multiple measures to gauge academic performance. 

Effective fall 2018, the CSU will no longer require students to take non-credit bearing prerequisite courses before enrolling in college-level courses. Instead, students will also be able to take redesigned classes that have academic support embedded or attached to the course, such as stretch or co-requisite courses.

The policy also strengthens the Early Start Program, allowing students to earn college credit the summer before their first year while providing them with the academic support they need. 

Additional funding will be critical to maintaining the momentum of the improved outcomes and over the coming months, the CSU will work with stakeholders and partners to make the case to lawmakers in Sacramento the importance of the CSU to the success of the state.

“Through continued investment, the CSU will be able to dramatically improve student success outcomes for all students,” said CSU’s Assistant Vice Chancellor and Senior Strategist for Academic Success James Minor.