April 27, 2022
Despite evidence showing community college students are passing transfer-level math and English courses without first taking remedial classes, hundreds of students in the central San Joaquin Valley remain stuck in lower-level classes, according to student advocates across California. A new bill heard in the State Assembly Higher Education Committee on Tuesday seeks to change that by strengthening the laws around how colleges are allowed to enroll students in remedial courses. AB 1705, authored by Jacqui Irwin, would force colleges to place most students in transfer-level math and English courses on their first try. It would build upon AB 705, passed in 2017, that allowed students to take the higher-level courses that could typically be accessed only using placement tests or high school transcripts.
The bottom line, advocates say, is that without having to take remedial courses first, students can get their degrees faster. “Colleges have claimed that compliance with AB 705 only requires that they give access to transfer-level courses, not that they actually enroll students there,” said Katie Hern, co-founder of the California Acceleration Project and a professor at Skyline College in San Bruno.
“AB 1705 clarifies this misunderstanding, stressing that colleges should be enrolling students in courses that maximize their likelihood of completion.” The bill would also make sure colleges do not enroll students in courses they have already passed. Hern cited a January 2022 study that showed that even after AB 705 was implemented, 44% of students repeated math courses they’d already passed in high school.