The California State University system has a problem. Under the state's master plan for higher education, it is supposed to admit the top third of California's high-school graduates. But a recent state report showed that only 27.5% of the 1986 graduates met its entrance standards. Their grades were not good enough. What should Cal State do--violate the master plan or lower its admission standards?
Cal State chose to do the latter. Its decision illuminates the enormous problems facing public education in California. California is not teaching its public-school students well enough.
The system dropped, from slightly above a B to a simple B, the grade-point average that students need in order to gain admission without submitting any college entrance examination test scores. The system lowered the test scores required for those whose grades average between B and C.
In other ways Cal State has been toughening its entrance standards. Four years ago the university system began phasing in requirements that students bound for college take more academic courses and maintain C grades in those classes. A student applying for Cal State admission this coming fall will need 10 of those courses, compared with six last year. By 1992 an applicant will need 15--four years of English, three of mathematics, one of science, two of a foreign language, one of history, one of arts and three electives.