Press Room

UC, College Board expand partnership to reach underrepresented students

The University of California will partner with the College Board this year to better prepare low-income and underrepresented California high school students for college success.

UC’s Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) will work with the College Board’s Western Regional Office on its “All In” campaign, designed to eliminate academic barriers for low-income African American, Latino and American Indian high school students who show potential to enroll in advanced-level courses, such as Advanced Placement (AP) classes. These efforts include expanding the numbers of such students who take the PSAT/NMSQT, a standardized pre-college entrance exam.

“At the University of California, we want all qualified students to be aware of the academic experiences available to them and get an early start on planning and preparing for college,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “That includes taking preliminary college entrance exams and enrolling in academically-challenging courses that can help prepare students for college and increase their chances for admission at UC.”

In the class of 2014, 49 percent of California students took the PSAT/NMSQT, and 35 percent of test-takers in California demonstrated potential for success in one or more AP classes. Yet, of those PSAT/NMSQT takers with AP potential, 31 percent did not take a matched AP course.

The “All In” campaign will bring awareness, training and advising to parents and high school students across California about the advantages of taking the PSAT/NMSQT and advanced-level high school courses, with the goal of increasing student participation.

“The College Board believes that all students should have access to the opportunities they have earned,” said Amy Wilkins, College Board senior fellow for social justice and director of the "All In" campaign. “We are delighted that the University of California is also working on breaking down barriers for underrepresented minority students who show the potential to succeed in AP classes. We hope that other institutions of higher education will follow their lead.”

The PSAT/NMSQT provides an early assessment of the reading, math and writing skills required for college. In addition to allowing students to practice test-taking strategies, the test helps students enter scholarship competitions like National Merit, provides opportunity for them to be recruited into AP courses offered locally, and connects students with important academic services like free online college and career exploration programs.

The “All In” campaign will also provide educators with resources related to AP courses, including a list of students at their schools who demonstrated potential to perform well in advanced-level classes. With these resources, UC staff will work directly with school districts in Fresno, the Inland Empire, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco.

Last spring, President Napolitano reached out to thousands of low-income California high school students who were among the state’s top performers on the PSAT/NMSQT, encouraging them to pursue higher education at the university and take academically-challenging courses that could increase their chances of UC admission. The letter was part of UC’s partnership with the College Board, and targeted students whose PSAT/NMSQT scores demonstrated their ability to do advanced academic work.

In the letter, Napolitano also told students about the university’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, which covers systemwide tuition and fees for California resident students who qualify for financial aid, and whose total family incomes are less than $80,000 a year. More than half of UC students who are California residents pay no tuition and fees thanks to the Blue and Gold program and other financial aid.

College Board media contact: José Rios, communications@collegeboard.org