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API SCORES SHOW COLLEGE ODDS CHANCES ARE LOWER FOR LATINOS, BLACKS.

Byline: Lisa M. Sodders Staff Writer

A school's API score, which reflects students' performance on standardized math and English tests, can also help predict whether students will qualify for admission to the UC or CSU system, a new report says.

The University of California and California State University systems admit students based on their grade-point average, completion of the high school curriculum in high school and college entrance exams.

Students whose academic performance helps boost their school's API score would tend to have higher GPAs and college entrance results, thus making them more likely to meet eligibility requirements, the report said.

``As far as university eligibility is concerned, the API is a strong predictor,'' said Adrian Griffin, senior policy analyst with the California Post-Secondary Education Commission, which conducted the study.

``Eligibility really rockets once you get above an API of 750, but if you're not in those schools - if you're in a 500 API school - your chances are pretty low. And they're still lower if you're a Latino or African-American.''

The Academic Performance Index is compiled by the California Department of Education, based on several standardized tests. The scores range from 200 to 1,000, with 800 being the state target.

Schools in lower socioeconomic areas also tend to have lower API scores, and Latino and African-American students are more likely to attend low-API schools than whites or Asians.

Esther Wong, assistant superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District, noted the new study was only preliminary and said she wanted to wait for the full report to comment.

``You would expect that schools with high API scores would have more eligible students, because they're based on test scores,'' Wong said. ``We feel the API is very important because it gives us a measure of how we're doing. I'm looking forward to seeing more.''

This year, just four of the 59 high schools in LAUSD met the target of 800 or better.

Based on 2001 statistics of more than 1,000 high schools statewide, CPEC found that for every 50-point increase in a high school's API score, a student's chances of being eligible for the UC increased by 34 percent and by 21 percent for the CSU.

The study also looked at a number of other factors in determining student eligibility. It found that for every $10,000 increase in household income, a student's odds of eligibility to the UC increased only by 6 percent, and didn't affect CSU eligibility.

The size of the high school also was not a predictable variable.

CPEC found that boys were 29 percent less likely than girls to be eligible for the UC and 42 percent less likely than girls to be eligible for the CSU.

Griffin said the gender gap is particularly pronounced among Latinos and African-Americans, who also struggle with low graduation rates.

``What's particularly disturbing is the eligibility rates for the CSU,'' Griffin said. ``A college degree is considered the entry ticket to a middle-class occupation, and the eligibility rate for CSU for Latino and African-American males is low. That means you're getting a high proportion of the population being locked out of the middle class.''

African-American and Latino students in LAUSD had double-digit increases in API scores this year, but still did not do as well as their white and Asian counterparts.

Lisa M. Sodders, (818) 713-3663

lisa.sodders(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 10, 2005
Words:562
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