Brown signs legislation to reform college remedial education


College of the Canyons (COC) saw a 50 percentage point increase in its student rate of completion for college-level math last year when it began considering other information such as high school GPAs for placement.

This change allowed students, like Andres Salazar, to bypass years of remedial math education and complete his community college courses on time.

“It allowed me to transfer to a university two years faster than if I had to take all the classes leading up to college applicable math,” Salazar, who is now studying at California Institute of the Arts, told The Signal in April.  “It took a lot of stress off of me as well because remedial classes are really hard to get into.”

Now, students at all 114 California community colleges can get this same opportunity thanks to legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Friday.

Assembly Bill 705, by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), requires community colleges to use students’ high school grades as well as their standardized test scores to make more accurate course placement decisions.

It also enables colleges to offer co-requisite models of remediation and enroll students in classes with extra support so they can complete courses used for transfer or toward a degree within one year.

“Recent studies have shown that too many of California’s students are being placed in remedial courses when they don’t need to be,” Irwin said in a statement. “This bill will use the best of multiple measures to help place students in courses, which will save students time and money while they are attending community colleges.”

According to research from the Public Policy Institute, more than 80 percent of incoming students began education in remediation, or pre-college level courses.

Of these students, only 40 percent will earn a degree, certificate or transfer after six years.

Lawmakers and education leaders hope this bill will ease “one of the largest impediments to course completion,” close the achievement gap and increase completion rates for the thousands of students enrolled in remedial math and English each year.

“AB 705 calls on our system to engage in statewide reforms that will provide every student with a strong start on their way to earning a degree, certificate or transferring to a university.  Currently, too many of our students are stuck in courses that do not count toward their educational goals and cost them valuable time and money,” California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said in a statement.  “This is an important milestone in the drive to improve student success and the first of several steps our system is taking to put students at the center of all policy discussions because they come with different circumstances and we need to be able to adapt to meet their needs.”

Earlier this year, AB 705 passed unanimously through the Assembly (79-0) and the Senate (40-0).

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