Source: Santa Barbara Unified School District | Credit: Courtesy

Black and Latinx high school graduates met University of California and California State University eligibility requirements at nearly half the rate that white and Asian students did in Santa Barbara Unified School District in 2021, according to a presentation at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

A-G requirements are the minimum transcript requirements for students to be eligible to apply to UC and CSU directly from high school. In 2021, 40.91 percent of Black graduates, 42.95 percent of Latinx graduates, and 40.77 percent of low-income graduates made A-G requirements. In the same graduating class, 83.74 percent of Asian graduates and 72.88 percent of white graduates met A-G.

Shawn Carey | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

“[A-G] represents students’ choices upon graduation,” said Shawn Carey, assistant superintendent of secondary education. “We don’t want to be in a position where any student has fewer or more limited choices than another student because of the system that we run in our school district.”

Carey was front and center with showing the disproportionalities in the data. Overall, the district is increasing its percentage of A-G–ready students faster than the state average. But white students are increasing at a faster rate than Latinx students. The trend becomes amplified when considering Latinx students make up more than half of the student body and white students make up 40 percent.

“We have to do something now. And we have to start not at the secondary level, but at the elementary level,” Boardmember Virginia Alvarez said with tears. “I am interested in finding out in a deep dive where no stone is left unturned: Where are the students at the elementary level? How are we helping them?”

Carey’s immediate solution to the issue is to change graduation requirements to require more students complete A-G requirements. Currently, the district only requires two years of math and no years of a language other than English. Carey said she hopes to require three years of math and two years of a language other than English ​— ​both A-G requirements.

She also said the district currently requires a D- or higher to graduate. In order to comply with A-G requirements, students need to be held to a C- grade or higher to graduate.

The other boardmembers agreed with Alvarez that a deep dive is needed to continue the conversation, and they decided a study session was in order to better understand the data and come up with solutions.

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