The latest crop of high school graduates to enter Cal State's 23 campuses were the best prepared in history to tackle college-level math and English under a new program that provides intensive instruction over the summer, officials said Tuesday.
Cal State trustees heard a review of the initiative, called Early Start, during their meeting in Long Beach.
The program was created in 2009 and it began in 2012, requiring freshmen who need remedial classes to take them before their first term. Summer 2014 was the first time all admitted freshmen were required to participate.
For fall 2014, more than 24,000 of the 63,000 freshmen who enrolled were required to take Early Start English or math courses. About 2,200 completed requirements in English and 3,700 in math.
Proficiency in English and math increased from 44% in 2010 to 59% in 2014 at entry.
Students needing remedial instruction have long plagued the system, slowing completion of degrees and impeding access for new students. Even though the improvements may seem small, the impact in the 460,000-student system is huge, Chancellor Timothy P. White said.
"It works and allows campuses to deploy resources elsewhere that might go to developmental programs," White said. "Students have less work to do; they have their shoulders back and their heads back saying, 'I can do this.'"
Cal State officials also said that students have been better prepared in high school. The percentage of freshmen who are college-ready in English and math at graduation grew from 43% in 2010 to 54% in 2014, officials said.
Those needing remedial classes fell from 28% to 21% during that time.
In other matters Wednesday, trustees approved a new, long-range academic plan that includes proposals for 29 new degree programs in the next 10 years, including bachelor's programs in geology at Northridge and women's, gender and sexuality studies at Cal State L.A., and master's programs in architecture at Pomona and cybersecurity at Dominguez Hills.
In addition, 17 programs will no longer be offered, including the bachelor's in chemistry at the Los Angeles campus and German at San Jose, and master's programs in human resources at Northridge and psychology at Bakersfield.
Students already enrolled in those programs will be allowed to complete their degrees.
Campuses frequently add and discontinue programs in response to workforce needs, student interest and duplicate programs at other campuses.
"The relevant question is: Are we meeting the needs of students and do we have the right academic mix?" said Cal State Monterey Bay President Eduardo M. Ochoa.
That campus is planning new bachelor's programs in sustainable hospitality management and human development and family studies, while ending master's programs in interdisciplinary studies and management and information technology.
The Board of Trustees will continue meeting on Wednesday.