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Back to the basics: Keep remedial classes

California community college students will suffer with the passing of AB 1705.

Opinion by Cassandra Nava, Managing Editor

Assembly Bill 1705 passed unanimously on Aug. 29. It will cause more harm than good while remedial courses continue to phase out, in the academic environment that needs them most.

Placement tests at Valley College are a thing of the past. With the passing of Assembly Bill 705 in 2017, the college started archiving remedial level classes in english and math, leaving students to enroll in transfer-level courses. The recently passed AB 1705, which is awaiting a signature from Gov. Gavin Newsom, will expand on the existing bill, working to fast track the community college experience with the hopes of a quicker transfer process.

But students should be offered the ability to refresh — or relearn — the basics. In order to properly excel in higher division courses, the fundamentals should not only be known, but ingrained in a student’s brain.

“There is no way you can say this is a successful program,” said Valley professor Ruby Christian-Broughm at an LACCD board meeting earlier this year. “To strip away the one level below, which AB 1705 will do, will make this situation worse.”

Not all community college students are the same. At least recent high school graduates are somewhat familiar with preparatory knowledge needed to succeed in transfer-level courses. But those who come to a community college after years away from a school environment may need a refresher. In this case, those individuals should have the option of remedial courses.

Imagine sitting through the transfer-level statistics course, without knowing the core ideas of algebra. This new bill will not set students up for success — those who brave it out may be deterred from pursuing their education further if they receive a low grade.

While the bill states that one-year completion of transfer-level courses increased by 18 percent and math by 24 percent from fall 2015 to fall 2019, the optimism of streamlining curriculum seems promising. But speed should not be the goal of community college.

Although the additional regulations on AB 705 will continue to propel students into universities, it disregards a huge population of students with other responsibilities. This bill helps individuals who may otherwise fall through the cracks of a community college, but single parents or people with full or part-time jobs may not be able to devote themselves to a more challenging course.

Another flawed aspect of AB 1705 is the additional work that will be placed on counselors and staff. The bill’s text states that counseling and other education planning services will need to be done by either college districts or the individual college. In very limited cases, remedial classes will be offered.

The bill will create a new standard using students’ high school grade point average as a basis for expected student success in a specific course. If that information is not accessible, college or district staff will have to compare how previous students in similar situations fared. This creates a tedious plan of working on a case by case basis for every student which, in turn, may allow students to fall through the cracks.

Students should at least have an option of taking remedial courses; they should not be taken away completely. That way, if a student does feel comfortable, they can choose to proceed with the one to two year track schedule to transfer.

But the only person who knows best is themselves, so students should be able to choose when they are the ones deciding to pursue their education.


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