The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
SECTION 1. (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) California makes a major investment in three world-renowned systems of higher education: the University of California, the California State University, and the California Community Colleges. In addition, California is home to prestigious independent universities and a significant number of vocational and specialized private institutions. Yet many pupils complete their senior year of high school with little understanding of these institutions, poor knowledge of financial aid programs, and few tools for making wise postsecondary educational choices. Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, pupils who would be the first in their families to go to college, and pupils with poor academic records are often the least informed.
(2) The lack of information about postsecondary educational opportunity erodes the effectiveness of California's investment in higher education, and exacerbates attempts to provide skilled workers for California's economy. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, California will need one million more college graduates by 2025 than current trends will produce. California's evolving economy will also need significantly more skilled workers with associate degrees and career certificates. California cannot afford to let pupils reach adulthood uninformed of the institutions and programs available to help them become productive members of society.
(3) The Legislature recently broadened the Academic Performance Index to include indicators of college and career preparedness, in addition to state test scores. To assist schools in improving these new benchmarks, some classroom attention to college eligibility requirements and the value of postsecondary education and training could be helpful to schools and local school districts.
(4) Pathway guidance is too often left to chance. The development of opportunities for school districts to incorporate such guidance into their programs is an appropriate school responsibility. Effective pathway instructional programs can be an efficient and effective way to complement the important work of school counselors.
(5) Postsecondary education and training has become increasingly expensive in both public and private institutions; student and family debt burden has grown dramatically in recent years. It is in the state's interest to ensure that students and families understand the serious nature of student indebtedness, receive information on maximizing access to grant and work opportunities to reduce indebtedness, and are provided with alternatives and strategies to avoid excessive debt.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to develop a K-12 curriculum to educate pupils and their families about the rich array of college and career opportunities available and how appropriate K-12 course taking and academic proficiency can ensure that pupils can meet their college and career goals. It is also the intent of the Legislature that such a pathway curriculum will educate pupils and their families about the cost of postsecondary education and the best ways to pay for it.
SEC. 2. Chapter 16.5 (commencing with Section 11550) is added to Part 7 of Division 1 of Title 1 of the Education Code, to read:
CHAPTER 16.5. Pathways Curriculum Task Force
11550. (a) (1) The Superintendent shall appoint and staff a Pathways Curriculum Task Force to develop a voluntary curriculum for kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, that will provide pupils and their families with a basic understanding of postsecondary educational institutions, options, programs, and opportunities in California. The task force shall consist of
12 members, including all of the following:
(A) Four persons representing postsecondary education.
(B) Four persons representing elementary and secondary education who are currently either classroom teachers or counselors, or both.
(C) Two public members.
(C) One person representing nonprofit organizations whose missions are focused on increased participation in postsecondary education.
(D) One person with expertise in career preparation or apprenticeship.
(E) One parent representative.
(F) One person representing a nonprofit organization whose mission focuses on working with parents and families of school age children.
(2) The Superintendent is encouraged to include persons with specific knowledge and background in college admissions, financial aid, postsecondary educational opportunities, and development of a curriculum for kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive.
(b) The task force shall establish learning goals for pupils at elementary, middle, and high school levels, and shall develop curriculum to help pupils achieve those goals. The task force shall, at a minimum, address all of the following topics:
(1) The variety of college, university, and technical education in California.
(2) The importance of postsecondary education and training.
(3) Ways to finance postsecondary education and training, and attention to cost-benefit analysis.
(4) The A-G course sequence required for admission to the University of California, postsecondary education admission requirements, and the community college transfer process.
(c) The task force shall solicit and consider input from a broad range of interested persons, agencies, and organizations, including, but not necessarily limited to, the Student Aid Commission, the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, specialists in elementary and secondary curriculum, school counselors, experts in federal and state financial aid and college admissions, and civil rights and nonprofit organizations whose missions are related to career preparation and college access, business, labor, parents, and pupils.
(d) The pathways curriculum developed pursuant to this chapter shall accomplish all of the following:
(1) Be as concise and clear as possible so as to easily integrate with other curriculum objectives, while still helping pupils gain a comprehensive understanding of postsecondary educational opportunity.
(2) Include complementary materials for family and guardians to learn what steps in elementary, middle, and high school they may take to assist their pupils reach college and career goals, as well as suggested questions to ask of school officials.
(3) Provide a cumulative resource for pupils and their families who come to California from other states and other countries and enter the California elementary and secondary education system at various grade levels.
(4) Provide pathway curriculum materials as well as suggestions for college and work site field trips, guest speakers, and other innovative means of inspiring and informing pupils and their families about college and career pathways.
(5) Provide information on the availability of, and access to, the most current information on postsecondary educational opportunities, including, but not necessarily limited to, federal and state Internet Web sites devoted to postsecondary educational opportunity and how best to navigate those sites.
(e) The task force shall develop the pathways curriculum within one year of its first convening, which shall occur no later than April 1, 2014. The task force shall accomplish all of the following:
(1) Transmit the pathways curriculum to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the Senate Committee on Education, the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, the Assembly Committee on Education, the Assembly Committee on Higher Education, the state board, the Regents of the University of California, the Trustees of the California State University, the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, the Student Aid Commission, and the Instructional Quality Commission for a three-month review and comment period.
(2) Consider comments and make changes as deemed appropriate.
(3) Transmit the curriculum to the department, where it shall be available for school district and school use and where it shall be maintained. The Superintendent shall assume leadership responsibilities for dissemination of the curriculum to school districts, county offices of education, charter schools, professional educational organizations, civic organizations throughout the state, and the public.
(f) The task force shall recommend, and the department shall determine and implement, an annual process by which the pathways curriculum shall remain current in the rapidly changing and complex environment of postsecondary educational opportunity. The Chancellor of the California State University and the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges shall, and the President of the University of California is requested to, provide cooperation and support to the department in this regard.
(g) Schools and school districts may use and deliver this curriculum in a manner that best suits local needs and resources.
SEC. 3. It is the intent of the Legislature that local educational agencies consider adopting all or parts of the career and college pathways curriculum. However, adoption is not mandatory, and local educational agencies may decline to participate.