A recent meeting between educators and lawmakers from the Inland Empire was held to discuss how to raise college attendance in the area. Chancellor Kim Wilcox represented UCR and highlighted about the university’s rise in graduation rates over recent years. Other lawmakers presented ideas about systems that would enable educators to track student progress throughout high school to better help them succeed and be college-bound.

Despite the improvement in graduation rates at UCR, Wilcox emphasized the need to help children progress through school at an early age, saying it’s important to target “students in kindergarten moving into first grade.”

Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, expressed his concern about the low rates of college attendance in the region. As the head of assembly for the Higher Education Committee, Medina asked fellow assemblymen and educators for input on how to address the issue, saying, “I want to see what I can do, what can the Legislature do to move things along?”

Executive Director of the California College Guidance Initiative Carmen De Roy suggested a statewide system that would allow counselors to track students’ progress in college attendance rates, and also include information on students’ applications to colleges and for federal student aid. De Roy believes that this will enable school counselors to adequately help students become college ready.

According to De Roy, there are disparities in the amount of students meeting high school requirements, with only nine percent of African-American and Latino students doing so and 26 percent of white students meeting the standards to be accepted to public college.

Dean of the Graduate School of Education Tom Smith explained that the university is trying to help local advanced placement students pass their exams by offering Saturday lectures on various subjects that students will be tested on. Nearly 700 students are expected at the lectures.
Medina and Smith believe that with the collaboration between lawmakers and educators, they can improve the low rates of college attendance in the coming years. Medina said, “Collaboration is important. The collaboration that I heard (during the meeting) is a beginning.”