Updated: Feb 28, 2019
Students will no longer be forced to take placement exams at community colleges thanks to the new Senate Assembly Bill 705.
By Meg Taylor, News Editor
The stress California community college students face when taking their placement exams will soon be a thing of the past with the passage of Assembly Bill 705.
The legislature unanimously passed AB 705 and Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law late last year. This bill requires colleges to maximize the probability that students will complete transfer level courses in math and English within one year of their initial attempt. This bill was written to clarify existing regulation and ensure that students are not placed into remedial courses that may delay or deter their educational progress.
“The reality is so many students come here and they don’t get out,” said Josh Miller, president of Valley College’s Academic Senate. “Just by the very nature of forcing people into these transfer-level courses, you’re going to have more students failing, but you also have more students completing. Just by default more of them are going to make it.”
This assembly bill is beneficial to the students who place two to four levels below a transferable course. Typically, they would spend anywhere from one to three additional years at community college to complete their transfer requirements. Being placed directly into a transfer-level course increases the chance of completion as well as transfer.
According to data from Los Angeles Mission College, “Currently, 52 percent of students (those placing at 3 or more levels below transfer) have to re-take all high school Math.” The default placement rules in English will impact 70 percent of community college students. There will be almost 24,000 additional students per academic year who are placed at the transfer level.
Some professors are supportive of this bill. A common theory is that if you put the poorer performing students in with the better-performing students, everybody will do better because they will be helping each other. Other instructors are worried about dumbing down their classes or feeling pressure to pass students just to get them to transfer; they fear being held accountable for students’ failure.
“For too long, inaccurate high stakes placement tests put students behind and stopped them from ever crossing the graduation stage. With the signing of AB 705 into law, more students will be placed directly into college-level courses and be able to reach their goals,” said Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity.
However, student success is reliant on the support they choose to engage in. Although placement tests are no longer required, there are “default placement rules” that include recommendations for concurrent support depending on students’ high school performance, backgrounds and needs.
Per the July 2018 California Community Colleges Memorandum, all students will be placed directly in transfer-level English. Students whose high school GPAs were between 1.9 and 2.6 will be placed in transfer-level English, but additional academic and concurrent support is recommended. Anyone whose high school GPA was below 1.9 is strongly recommended to seek additional academic and concurrent support.
The implementation of this bill is in progress and placement tests will soon be a thing of the past. All California community colleges must be in compliance with AB 705 no later than fall of 2019.