Community colleges in California are offering more transfer-level math and English courses, along with support for those classes, in response to a state bill aimed at reducing the number of students funneled into remedial courses, a new report finds.
Assembly Bill 705, which took effect in 2018, clarified that community colleges cannot place students in remedial courses unless there is evidence they are highly unlikely to succeed in college-level courses, and required colleges to use high school grades and course information to place students in English and math courses that maximize the likelihood they would complete transfer-level course work in those subjects within a year. Statewide research found that students are two to three times more likely to complete transfer-level English and math courses when they begin in transferable courses, rather than in (typically non-credit-bearing) remedial courses.
An analysis by the California Acceleration Project of the progress so far at 47 community colleges found that the colleges have approximately doubled the proportion of transfer-level classes they offer and many more now offer corequisite remediation. While the report said there is significant progress in letting students directly enroll in college-level courses, many colleges still have a large proportion of remedial classes. The colleges with the highest proportions also don't provide data on how enrolling in remedial classes affects the likelihood of completing the English and math requirements, which the report says hinders students' abilities to make informed choices. Uneven implementation across the state could also promote inequity, the report says.
The report recommends that colleges eliminate remedial courses, provide more information to students about their rights for choosing classes, provide corequisite support and be proactive to ensure students don't underplace themselves.