California bill moves forward to further crack down on community college remedial classes

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Diving brief:

  • California lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that would further limit the state’s community colleges’ ability to enroll students in remedial classes — non-credit courses designed to improve skills in areas like math and reading that are often criticized for derailing progress towards a degree.
  • under the invoice, two-year colleges can only place students in remedial courses under very specific circumstances and must justify this decision with data. Community colleges should rely on factors such as high school coursework and GPA to determine placement of students in courses. And any of these measures could be used to demonstrate that students should avoid remedial work.
  • The bill is based on a law passed in 2017 that already-mandated community colleges direct most students to transfer-level classes.

Overview of the dive:

Remedial or developmental education came under fire to impose unnecessary costs on students and offer them no progression to a degree.

2018 research found students and families spend $1.3 billion on these courses a year. Yet they are less likely to graduate than their peers who have not taken such courses.

They are also expensive for colleges, at around $7 billion a year.

Thus, institutions began to move away from remedial classes. In March, Louisiana public colleges abolished refresher coursesopting instead to steer students towards credit courses and provide them with more academic support.

A 2014 law in Florida also made placement exams and remedial courses optional.

In 2017, California passed its law stipulating that community colleges in the state should only refer students to remedial courses if they have evidence that they are highly unlikely to succeed in remedial courses. University level.

Two-year institutions must “maximize the likelihood that a student will enter and complete transfer-level courses in English and mathematics within one year,” the law also states.

However, not all community colleges in the state appear to be following the intent of the law. A report published in June by the California Acceleration Project — an organization that lobbies for the proper use of remedial classes — found that 38 of the state’s 115 community colleges were enrolling students with strong academic records in developmental math courses. Nine others did not submit adequate data to assess.

The group identified 47 community colleges that intended to continue offering remedial classes, noting that many had phased them out for fall 2022.

The new bill would further reduce the instances in which community colleges could place students in remedial classes. It would also clarify that students should not repeat the English and math classes they passed in high school.

It is backed by an array of civil rights and college access organizations, including notable names such as the Institute for College Access & Success and the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center.

“Equitable reform of community college placement and completion has proven effective in producing unprecedented gains for students. This policy is a critical lever for achieving the goals of the California Community College System’s Vision for Success and ensuring an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said. wrote in a joint letter in July.

However, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges opposed the measure, arguing too heavily limits student choice.

The bill was passed by the National Assembly in May and is currently being considered by the Senate. Most recently, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved it this month.

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