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The California State University system’s graduation rates have markedly improved, but significant equity gaps remain, according to a new report from the Campaign for College Opportunity, a California-based research and policy advocacy organization.

The report noted that the system is falling short on three of four graduation rate goals set under Graduation Initiative 2025, an effort to boost graduation rates, decrease time to degree and eliminate disparities for students from minority backgrounds.

According to the report, the system is not on track to reach a six-year graduation rate of 70 percent for first-time students. If current trends hold, it will also likely fail to achieve a 45 percent two-year graduation rate and an 85 percent four-year graduation rate for transfer students, all targets the system set out to accomplish by 2025.

Meanwhile, graduation rates for Black, Latino and Native American students increased but are around 11 or 12 percentage points lower than their white, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander peers’ on CSU campuses, the report said. Equity gaps widened at 10 CSU campuses for six-year graduation rates for first-time students and at nine campuses in four-year graduation rates for transfer students.

“Our institutions need to continue to work hard, finding ways to guarantee the success of every student no matter their background or struggle,” Melvin Ridley III, San Diego State University student body vice president of external relations, said in a press release.

Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, described the findings as a “wake-up call for all of us who care deeply about California and our collective future.”

“The CSU is the economic engine of our state, producing the educated workforce our multiracial, multicultural democracy depends on to thrive,” she said in the release. “While we applaud the progress the CSU has made to improve graduation rates, a rising tide has not lifted all boats equitably. Without intentionality and urgency in designing policies, practices and programs to better serve Latinx, Black, AANHPI and AIAN students equity gaps will grow and persist, strangling the California Dream.”

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