Growth in college prep programs touted at Santa Ana Unified’s State of the District event

The number of programs available to Santa Ana Unified School District students to help prepare them for college and careers has grown at an extraordinary rate over the past few years, giving more students opportunities to succeed, Superintendent Stefanie Phillips said.

Her comments came Friday morning during her State of the District Breakfast at Godinez Fundamental High School.

Phillips talked about a new initiative to offer the PSAT and SAT to every high school student in Santa Ana Unified for free during the school day to encourage more of them to consider and apply for college.

Santa Ana Unified Superintendent Stefanie Phillips speaks at an event
Santa Ana Unified Superintendent Stefanie Phillips speaks at the State of the District Breakfast. (Courtesy of SAUSD)

She also described the growth of the dual enrollment programs districtwide that allow students to take college courses while they’re still in high school. Last year, 54 students earned an associate degree at the same time they earned their high school diploma, meaning they started as college juniors this fall.

Additionally, she touted the High School Inc. program that allows students to receive career technical training from industry professionals as part of their high school curriculum. The number of students enrolled in these programs has grown from 90 to 1,900 over the past decade, she said.

These and other programs have helped the district increase its graduation rate to 93 percent last year, up from 80 percent in 2010. About 93 percent of these graduates enroll in college, Phillips said.

The Santa Ana College Promise, where district graduates are given one year of tuition free at Santa Ana College, has also helped steer more students towards higher education, she said.

“We want all our students to be on that college going path. It’s our job to make this happen,” Phillips said.

The superintendent also announced plans to expand all-day kindergarten and preschool programs districtwide and grow the number of dual-language immersion programs.

The breakfast was hosted by the Santa Ana Public Schools Foundation. More than 400 parents, educators, administrators and lawmakers attended, including Congressman Lou Correa and state Senator Janet Nguyen.