Capitol Alert

UC expands free online classes for high school students

Seeking to help disadvantaged students, the University of California announced an expansion Wednesday of its online learning program that provides high school students with free access to courses required for admission into state universities.

The UC Scout program will now offer 65 online classes and 26 Advanced Placement classes. The expansion of the program, which seeks to close ethnic and racial achievement gaps in California, was made possible with $4 million in the 2016-17 state budget, according to a news release.

The expansion will include all courses to fulfill the core requirements, such as math, history and science, for admission to UC and California State University schools.

“This program is a critical tool to bolster college eligibility among California students, particularly those who attend schools with limited resources,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in the news release. “We are grateful for the state’s support of UC Scout and hope even more students will take advantage of the opportunities afforded by this easily accessible program.”

Forty-seven public high schools in the state do not offer the full “a-g” curriculum. Eight percent of California students attend high schools that do not offer any AP courses, while three percent attend schools with four or fewer AP course options, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the College Board, which oversees AP exams.

“We want to ensure that all students with the potential to succeed in AP coursework are able to take advantage of those opportunities,” Scott Hill, vice president for the western region at the College Board, said in the release. “We applaud the recent expansion of the UC Scout program, which will help even more California students prepare for college and career success.”

Under the UC Scout program, students can take online UC-accredited courses for free on campus under the direction of a teacher or counselor, or they can pay a fee to take courses off campus with the help of a UC Scout instructor.

In 2016-17, 259 schools participated in the program, with 1,992 students enrolling in 3,672 courses, according to the release. Students in charter schools independent programs, juvenile justice facilities, adult education programs and community colleges can also enroll in UC Scout.