- Associated Press - Thursday, September 17, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - Less than half of Arizona high school graduates meet the criteria to enroll in the state’s major public universities, a statistic that education officials said Thursday hasn’t changed in five years.

The Arizona Board of Regents released a study that found 46.5 percent of grads last year were eligible for admission into Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona.

That rate in 2009 was 46.7 percent. However, the number of public school graduates increased by 4.1 percent in that same five-year period.

“The data clearly indicates that we need to do a better job of ensuring students are academically ready to pursue education beyond high school, especially since we know that 68 percent of all jobs in Arizona will require some post-secondary education, including certifications and two- and four-year degrees by 2020,” Board of Regents President Eileen Klein said.

The report also found that eligibility rates were lower among blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics in comparison with white and Asian students. A similar trend also occurred in 2009, according to the study.

Prospective college freshmen need a minimum 2.5 GPA and to have completed 16 required competency courses. Students are allowed to have two deficiencies but not in math and science. Klein said the state needs to make sure every student is able to take the coursework necessary for university admission.

The board is re-examining required college-prep courses. It expects to release findings of that review in June 2016.

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