SACRAMENTO – Yesterday the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released a report that examines how AB 705 transformed access, outcomes, and racial equity for students entering California’s community college system. The report finds that Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin’s landmark legislation has drastically increased access to credit-bearing courses across all racial and ethnic groups. More than double the number of students completed transfer-level Math and English courses in Fall of 2019, compared to Fall 2015.
“These findings are extremely promising, especially considering this is the first semester of full implementation statewide, and factoring in the unique challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for underserved communities,” said Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin. “The use of placement tests that were not evidence-based meant that so many of our students were wasting time and money in remedial courses, instead of being given the necessary support to succeed and complete their degrees.”
Prior to AB 705, the vast majority of students started community college in remedial courses, which slowed down or even halted their academic progress. Students are now evaluated based on factors like as their high school coursework and GPA, which greatly increases their ability to be placed directly into transfer-level coursework. Under this new model, most students receive additional academic support, such as tutoring, while taking the transfer-level course to ensure they do not fall behind.
“In 2017, with Assemblymember Irwin as our champion, we sponsored historic legislation to ensure more students would have access to college-level courses when they start community college in order to substantially increase their chances of completing a degree, certificate or transfer. This report proves that tremendous strides have been made,” stated Michele Siqueiros, President of the Campaign for College Opportunity. “Broader access to these courses is beginning to close equity gaps for our Black and Latinx students. Our work will not be done until we eliminate all racial equity gaps in higher education and ensure that all students have a real shot at success, but today we are especially proud to celebrate how far we have come.”
Despite the dramatic increases in access to and completion of entry-level, credit-bearing courses, equity gaps still persist – especially in math, where disparities are larger and outcomes are poorer. The report identifies several areas of concern that may be limiting equitable access and completion rates, as well as recommendations relating to curriculum design, professional development for faculty, and strategies to assess what types of corequisite models are most effective.
“With more than 2.1 million students at 116 colleges, the California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the country. One in every four community college students in the nation attend a California community college,” Assemblymember Irwin said. “These findings are also a testament to the countless hours of hard work by the Chancellor’s Office, Academic Senate, faculty members, and administrators across the state who have shifted their pedagogy and mindsets so that far more of our students can achieve their goals.”
Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin represents California’s 44th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Camarillo, Moorpark, Oak Park, Oxnard, Port Hueneme,,Thousand Oaks, and Westlake Village.