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News Item: Homepage

Agreement with CSUM a Gift to VUSD Students

High school students who keep their grades up and take a prescribed series of  courses are guaranteed admission to California State University San Marcos under a special arrangement between the university and Vista Unified School District.

“This is about opening doors for thousands of students who attend school in Vista Unified School District,” school Superintendent Devin Vodicka said.

“We want every student in our schools from kindergarten up to know that college is attainable,” Vodicka said.

Under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in September by Vodicka and University President Karen Haynes, Vista Unified students who meet certain criteria are guaranteed admission to CSU San Marcos starting with the graduating class of 2017.

Among other things, the students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average, they must pass an English Placement Test and an Entry Level Mathematics test which show they are ready to take college level courses without remedial work and they must complete what are know as A-G courses.

The A-G courses are college preparatory courses in history, social science, English, math, lab sciences and a language other than English, said Margaret Lutz Chantung, university public information officer.

The study program outlined in the agreement also helps students qualify to apply to any other CSU campus, Chantung said.

A side benefit is that students who participate in such agreements tend to do better in college, said Patricia Prado-Olmos, director of the university’s Alliance to Accelerate Excellence.

“Data from other students admitted from other districts indicate students maintain a higher GPA (grade point average) in college and have higher retention rates than the general student population,” Prado-Olmos said.

As part of its commitment, Vista Unified School District agreed to establish a number of programs to help students stay on track including intervention for students struggling to maintain a 3.0 grade average and a chance for juniors and seniors to do college level work while in high school.

Working with the Vista Education Foundation, the district also agreed to develop scholarships for qualified students.

“Our objective would be to fund all of the kids that are eligible,” Education Foundation President Brad Peterson said.

With the CSU agreement in hand, Peterson said the foundation hopes to double its fundraising this year by demonstrating to businesses that it is their best interest to help.

“I think people just don’t correlate how important education is to surviving in a modern society,” Peterson said.

Started in 2005, the Education Foundation in 2012 awarded scholarships of about $1,000 each to 16 students chosen by the schools they attend, Peterson said.

“We could place $1 million a year (in scholarships) and not meet all the needs,” Peterson said.

Peterson said people can learn more about the foundation or to make a donation by going to the foundation’s web site, www.vistaedfoundation.org.

Donations also can be mailed to the Education Foundation at 236 East Broadway, Vista, CA 92084.

Vodicka said the arrangement with CSU was “like a gift that keeps on giving.”

“It’s a wonderful manifestation of our core value of collaboration and we’re doing it for the benefit of our community,” Vodicka said.

College graduates are more likely to find jobs that are stable and rewarding and most of those who graduate from CSU San Marcos stay in the region, the superintendent said.

About 85 percent of CSU San Marcos graduates remain in North County after graduation, Prado-Olmos said.

“While it’s good for every student on an individual level, it’s good for all of us on a community level,” Vodicka said. “I’m thrilled, I’m absolutely delighted that we wee able to finalize this MOU.”

Posted by: Brett Killeen, District Associate, Vista Unified School District Published:10/21/13
Audience: Homepage and Homepage