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College Promise Shows Big Gains

Leaders from the Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach City College, Long Beach State University and the City of Long Beach unveiled a 10-year anniversary report this week showing that The Long Beach College Promise initiative has produced significant gains in student achievement over the past decade.

The university, the community college and the school district first committed to The Promise in 2008, extending the promise of a college education to every student in the Long Beach Unified School District.  The City of Long Beach and its Mayor’s Office joined the initiative in 2014.  Since its inception, The Promise has served as a model for communities in California and across the nation to develop partnerships centered on student success.

“This year marks the 10th anniversary of The Promise, and we are excited to share its accomplishments with the community,” stated the report, shared by officials during a community event attended by students, parents and local dignitaries at the Long Beach Museum of Latin American Art.  “A national model for student success, The Promise has helped thousands of youth achieve their dreams of higher education.”

Elements of The Promise include increased access to early childhood education; college tours for 4th and 5th graders; a middle school pledge by students and parents, committing to college readiness; a tuition-free first year at LBCC; and guaranteed admission to CSULB for qualifying students.

Among the findings in the new report, “Moving Long Beach Ahead,” were data showing that students now have far greater access to college, and are better prepared for higher education than they were 10 years ago:

• Enrollment by Long Beach Unified graduates at the university has grown by 71 percent since the inception of The Promise (from 519 students in 2008 to 889 students in 2017).

• Enrollment by LBCC students at the four-year university has increased significantly, as has first-generation enrollment by Long Beach Unified students at the university.

• Students are taking a record number of Advanced Placement college-level exams.

• More students are meeting the A-G college entrance requirements for the University of California and California State University systems.  While students who don’t meet these requirements can still attend other colleges and universities, including community colleges, The Promise includes a concerted effort to improve A-G completion.  Last year, 49 percent of LBUSD graduates met these requirements, up from 37 percent in 2011-12.

• The LBCC Foundation gave about $500,000 in Long Beach College Promise Scholarships in 2017.  These scholarships cover a tuition-free first year at LBCC.  Long Beach Rotary is a major contributor to this effort and was honored at this year’s event as a Long Beach College Promise Champion.

• The Mayor’s Fund for Education was launched in collaboration with local partners to identify students’ needs at all levels, including pre-K, and to assist in fundraising.  Earlier this year, the Mayor’s Fund launched Ready Rosie, an online platform that helps preschool parents incorporate learning activities into everyday interactions with their children.

• The Long Beach Internship Challenge, in conjunction with the work of Long Beach Career-Linked Learning has provided thousands of internships for students.

• Graduation rates at Long Beach Unified increased for the fifth year in a row, again surpassing state and county rates.  Students of color in Long Beach schools also outperformed their peers countywide and statewide, and seven high schools here reported graduation rates above 90 percent.

• LBCC’s persistence and graduation rates are also increasing.  Thirty-nine percent of LBCC students graduate from Long Beach State University in two years. Eighty-four   percent of LBCC students graduate from Long Beach State University in four years.

Among the speakers at this week’s event were President Jane Conoley of Long Beach State University, Superintendent President Reagan F. Romali of LBCC, Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser of LBUSD, and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.  The leaders also presented college scholarships to 24 local eighth graders who have shown academic improvement.

The Promise includes efforts to align academic standards, teaching methods and student assessment across institutions to improve student achievement and teacher quality.  The initiative has garnered recognition and attention from the White House, Gov. Jerry Brown and the California State Senate, and it has been modeled by many other communities in California, including Fresno, the Inland Empire, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco.

SCHOLARS – At the 10th anniversary celebration of The Long Beach College Promise, 24 local eighth graders received scholarships for showing academic improvement.