Berkeley Scholars to Cal provides ongoing college preparation to promising African American and Latino/Chicano students in Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) for the eight years prior to their graduation from high school. This program provides ongoing case management, mentoring, Saturday and summer sessions and both academic and social goal setting. Without this comprehensive program, most of these students, who come from first generation, low-income, working class families, would not attend a top-tier university upon high school graduation; many would not graduate from high school in four years. Since its inception in 2000, BSC has initiated four student cohorts, with the first cohort graduating in 2008.
One hundred percent of graduates from the first cohort went to college, with 90% of them matriculating at 4-year universities. African American students from the second cohort scored above national averages on the PSAT: 80 percent scored over the 50th national percentile, while nationally, only 5 percent of black students and 70 percent of white students score over 50 percent on the test. These statistics indicate that the program has been successful at meeting its larger goal of preparing underserved students for applying to and being accepted at top universities.
The idea for the Berkeley Scholars to Cal program arose in the late 1990s, when administrators saw that Latino and African-American students who showed academic success and potential in their early grade school years were not able to maintain that success into middle and high school. Indeed, while 46% of Latino and African American 5th grade students in Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) scored at the proficient or advanced levels on the California Standards Test (CST), only 18% of this group received a proficient score by the time they reached eighth grade.
Here, we focus on the second cohort of students (BSC II), currently in high school. Our goal is to provide a pilot assessment of students after approximately 6 years in the program; i.e. after the students have had nearly full exposure. The goal of this pilot is to provide information on the program and also to provide an example of how BSC can collect basic data to assess the impact of its programs on student academic outcomes.
BSC currently tracks student academic data, including GPAs, individual class grades, SATs and other standardized test scores. Working together with ReadyMade, BSC identified two important and measurable aspects of the program that are related to college admission: improved GPAs and standardized test scores. The key program components related to these primary outcomes include time with a mentor, problem solving capability, post-high school goals, time use, and involvement in extracurricular activities.
The main goal of this evaluation is to learn which aspects of the program provide reliable indicators of student success in high school and in getting into a top college. Because a student’s GPA, SAT scores, and leadership activities are critical for success in college admissions and in college readiness, we ask: What components of the BSC program have an impact on student test scores and GPA?