BERKELEY -- Following months of bad news on the classroom performance of its football team, Cal has released encouraging results on two academics fronts.

While the program's scores climbed for both the Graduation Success Rate and Academic Progress Rate, athletic director Sandy Barbour announced she is forming a task force to study key factors in the performance of Cal's student-athletes.

That group, including faculty, staff, students and alumni, will produce a report by June 2014.

The NCAA announced that Cal's GSR for football players who enrolled at the university in 2007 climbed to an estimated 65 percent. That's nearly a 50 percent increase on scores released in October that showed Cal players had the lowest graduation rate (44 percent) among 72 schools in the major fooball-playing conferences.

Members of the Cal football team take part in drills during practice at Memorial Stadium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 in Berkeley, Calif.  (Aric Crabb/Staff)
Members of the Cal football team take part in drills during practice at Memorial Stadium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 in Berkeley, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Staff)

The October scores reflect an average graduation rate for football players admitted from 2003 to 2006 and given a six-year period to complete their studies. None of the student-athletes in that group are part of first-year coach Sonny Dykes' team.

The Bears also expect to fare better with the next APR results, which measure real-time academic performance and student-athlete retention. Cal scored a substandard 923 APR last spring, but the NCAA's latest estimate for this year's rate is 969, which is equivalent to a graduation rate of about 85 percent, according to the university.

The NCAA will release final, audited numbers in the spring.

"The football team's recent academic performance, as evidenced by the significant improvement in the NCAA metrics, is very encouraging, and shows that we're on the right track in making sure all of our student-athletes get the benefits of a UC Berkeley education," Barbour said in a statement.

"But we're still not satisfied and need to go further in order to sustain this progress and support continued academic achievement across our entire program. We want our student-athletes to understand that they're part of a high-performance culture that includes academic as well as athletic excellence."

The new task force is expected to begin its work in January.

The group will be asked to provide recommendations for changes in policies or practices that would help ensure success for all 850 student-athletes in 29 intercollegiate athletic programs.

The task force's final report will be delivered to Barbour and Faculty Athletics Representative Robert Jacobsen.

For more on Cal sports, see the Bear Talk blog at ibabuzz.com/beartalk. Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.