So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

California drops Algebra requirement for 8th graders, dismaying educators

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If an 8th grader anywhere in California walks into a classroom at 1.5 miles an hour to solve a quadratic equation, what are the chances that she will get into a top-tier university?

The answer: Much better than if the student is a 9th grader.

Turns out the State Board of Education is dropping standards expecting all eighth graders to take Algebra I.  And the decision, made last month, is causing some controversy among educators because “Algebra I is the single best predictor of college graduation.”

From now on, students can choose between the more rigorous Algebra I, or an alternate course that contains some Algebra but is more in line with the Common Core curriculum that’s been adopted by the state.

Supporters said it reflects the reality that most middle school students simply aren’t ready for Algebra I. If pushed too soon, they are being set up for failure.  

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Where to get help to write a winning college financial aid application

Pile of money

Tracy O./Flickr Creative Commons

Paying for a college education

The clock is ticking toward the March 2, 1913 deadline for state and federal grants for college. That’s the last day when many colleges and universities will accept the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. (Some colleges have earlier deadlines.)

With the price tag for a four-year college education reaching $200,000 in some cases, more students than ever need help paying the bills.

If you're like many students and families, you likely have basic questions about whether you qualify and what to do if the aid you receive isn't enough.  Here’s a good primer on the program that  answers many of those questions.

Want more specific help? The L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce has for years been leading an  effort to guide students to fill out the applications correctly -- and on time.  It has put together  long list of resources on its web site.

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Bill by Assembly Speaker John Perez would tax corporations to help students pay for college

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John Perez promotes the Middle Class Scholarship Act in Sacramento

A Los Angeles lawmaker is putting forth a controversial idea he says will help the middle class: taxing private corporations to help students pay for their college tuition.

Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, says his Middle-Class Scholarship Act would cut tuition by more than half for families with a total yearly income under $150,000 -- affecting about 200,000 students statewide. A CSU student, for example, would save about $4,000 under the bill, according to supporters.

A promotional website says the savings “will be paid for entirely by closing the $1 billion wasteful corporate tax loophole that allows out-of-state corporations to elect to lower their California tax bill.”

The act, put forth in Assembly Bills 1500 and 1501, was introduced in February. One of the two assembly bills is scheduled to come before the state Assembly’s Higher Education Committee tomorrow.

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Beverly Hills Unified to require all juniors take PSAT

SAT Test To Be Revamped

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SAT prep books line the shelves of Barnes and Noble store. Beverly Hills Unified's school board approved a new plan to require juniors take the PSAT in October as part of an effort to increase college readiness.

Beverly Hills Unified's school board unanimously approved a new policy Tuesday night to require all juniors take the PSAT starting in October.

"This really fits in with the high school's plan of preparing every student for college readiness to apply to a university," said Jennifer Tedford, the district's chief academic officer. "We know that the PSAT is a gateway assessment, that students who take this assessment are on their way to apply to a university."

Roughly half of all high school sophomores and two-thirds of the juniors take the Preliminary SAT each year on a Saturday morning, Tedford said. Under the new plan, the district will offer the test on a Wednesday morning possibly as part of a college preparedness day, Tedford said.

The exam is not only practice for the SAT, but juniors who take the exam can also qualify as National Merit Scholars. Finalists win a $2,500 prize and additional distinction during the college application process.

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Study: When times get tough, college is still worth it

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CSU Dominguez Hills students graduate.

When times get tough, that investment in higher education can be even more valuable, according to a new study released today by UC Berkeley.

That was just one finding in a study entitled "California's Economic Payoff: Investing in College Access & Completion," which strove to answer two key questions: "What are the benefits of investing in higher education? And is it worth it for Californians?

The answers? Many. And yes.

Researchers at UC Berkeley's Institute for the Study of Societal Issues found that for every $1 California invests in students who go to college, the state will receive a net return of $4.50 on its investment. For those who complete college, the return is $4.80 and for those who enter, but drop out the return is $2.40.

A college degree often translated into higher earnings for the graduate, and therefore higher income taxes paid to the state; additionally, the state saved money on its payout on social services and incarceration costs for these graduates.

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