As of Jan. 1, 2018, no community college student can be denied entry into transfer-level math or English courses.
According to California state legislation, 75 percent of community college students identify as underprepared and as a result students are referred to remedial courses.
A study by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office revealed new research showing that even the lowest performing high school students coming into a community college are more likely to pass transfer-level courses directly instead of taking remediation classes prior to those transfer-level classes. This research is specific to English, statistics, and pre-calculus.
Assembly Bill 705 was created with the intention that students will have a greater opportunity to finish transfer-level coursework within a one year time frame.
Before the implementation of AB-705, students were required to take a placement test upon registration at Cuesta College. As of Summer 2019, Cuesta College students received their placement results by completing the online orientation.
This means that students no longer need to take an entry test to be placed in a math and English class based on those test scores. Instead, community colleges will look at high school coursework, grades, and grade point average to determine a student’s coursework level.
The only way a student won’t be placed in a transfer-level class is if it can be proved they will not be successful in it, and therefore placed in entry level or remediation classes.
AB-705 is important to students because the placement test used prior to the bill’s implementation often left students stuck in a cycle of remediation classes that would ensure failure to transfer to higher institutions, according to a Students Making A Change website dedicated to the understanding of AB-705.
If AB-705 can allow a student to finish transfer-level classes successfully without remediation, it can also save students who don’t qualify for the Cuesta Promise Scholarship money.
Cuesta College’s “soft” implementation
As required by state law, all community colleges needed to implement these changes by Fall 2019.
In January, Cuesta College sent an email to all its students explaining the new bill. Cuesta College decided to provide its students with an earlier opportunity for eligibility into transfer-level classes in Spring 2019 as a “soft” implementation. This allowed students to register for transfer-level classes regardless of any placement they’d taken in the past.
The implementation showed results with mostly increased success rates from Spring 2018 to Spring 2019:
- English 201A, English Composition, saw an increased success rate of 3.3 percent
- Math 247, Intro to Statistics, saw an increased success rate of 6.6 percent
- Math 230, Math for the Humanities, saw a decreased success rate of 5.8 percent (The decrease could be attributed to students dropping the class)
Fall 2019, full implementation
With an influx of new students in Fall 2019, Cuesta College has had to accommodate their orientation self-placement. As a result of AB-705, students are able to register for transfer-level classes rather than remediation classes. This assumes there are more students in transfer-level classes who may not be prepared for it.
Cuesta College has taken measures to make sure that students can remain successful in their transfer-level classes.
A Statistics Concept Clinic and Math 147S, a one hour class that supports Math 247, are two of the biggest tools that Math Division Chair Denise Chellsen described.
English 101 was created to add aid for English 201A.
Other resources include the Student Success Center’s Math Lab and Writing Center on the San Luis Obispo and North County campuses.
“Those are the things we put in place to be a safety net to be of support for all students regardless of where they would have landed,” said Dr. Jason Curtis, Vice President of Academic Affairs.
Both Math 147S and English 101 were added as new curriculum. Overall, the curriculum of the transfer-level classes did not change.
“By its very nature we did not change the curriculum,” Curtis said. “We absolutely did not make those classes easier or take the hard material out of those classes.”
Cuesta College’s next steps
Cuesta College will not see data about the results of AB-705’s full implementation until January 2020, following the Fall 2019 semester.
Cuesta College counselor Heidi Webber is optimistic about AB-705’s application.
“As a campus it’s been so cool to see our faculty go, ‘Yes! Let’s get students in and lets help them transfer sooner,’” Webber said.