BILL ANALYSIS Ó SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION Carol Liu, Chair 2013-2014 Regular Session BILL NO: AB 386 AUTHOR: Levine AMENDED: May 28, 2013 FISCAL COMM: Yes HEARING DATE: July 3, 2013 URGENCY: No CONSULTANT:Kathleen Chavira SUBJECT : California State University online education. SUMMARY This bill authorizes any California State University (CSU) student enrolled at a CSU campus, who meets specified requirements, to enroll in an online course provided by another CSU campus, requires the CSU Trustees to establish an easily accessible online database of these courses by January 1, 2015, and requires the Trustees to report key performance data on online courses, as specified, to the Legislature by January 1, 2017, and every two years thereafter. BACKGROUND Current law authorizes a student enrolled in any campus of the California Community Colleges (CCC), California State University, or the University of California to who meets specified requirements to enroll, without formal admission and payment of additional fees, in a maximum of one course per academic term at a campus of either of the other systems on a space available basis, as specified. (Education Code § 66751) Current law provides that a student enrolled in any campus of the CCC, CSU, or UC may cross-enroll if they meet the following requirements: 1) The student completed at least one term at the home campus as a matriculated student and is taking at least 6 units at the home campus during the current term. 2) The student has attained a 2.0 grade point average. AB 386 Page 2 3) The student has paid appropriate tuition and/or fees required by the home campus for that academic term. 4) The student has the appropriate academic preparation for the course, as determined by the host campus, consistent with the standard applied to currently enrolled students. (EC § 66752) Current law prohibits the host campus from counting the cross-enrolled student in the calculation of its headcount or full-time equivalent student enrollment. The home campus is authorized to count these students in its calculation of headcount or full-time equivalent student enrollment only for those units in which the student is enrolled at the home campus. (EC § 66753.5) ANALYSIS This bill : 1) Authorizes, by the beginning of the 2015-16 academic year, a student who meets specified requirements to enroll, without formal admission and without paying additional tuition and fees, in a course provided entirely online by another California State University (CSU) campus on a space-available basis. 2) Requires a student to meet the following requirements for enrollment: a) Be enrolled at a CSU campus. b) Attain a 2.0 GPA. c) Pay appropriate tuition and/or fees for full time enrollment for the academic term in which they intend to enroll. d) Have no outstanding tuition/fees to be paid at the home campus. 3) Establishes the following requirements and authorities AB 386 Page 3 for cross enrollment in online courses at the CSU: a) Authorizes nonresident and international CSU students who meet the conditions outlined in #2 to cross-enroll, but requires that these students pay the per unit fees for the course at the host campus. b) Authorizes a host campus to charge participating students a reasonable administration fee and specific course-based fees, as specified. c) Requires the Chancellor's office to establish an online methodology to allow students to be informed of the online cross-enrollment option and to simultaneously enroll in both home and host campuses. d) Requires a matriculated CSU student to have priority access to, and enrollment opportunity in, online courses at his/her home campus, while requiring host campuses to adopt a campus enrollment policy that encourages cross-enrollment. e) Requires that the course be accepted for credit at the home campus on the same basis as that for a matriculated student at the host campus. f) Authorizes the host campus to count cross-enrolled students in the calculation of headcount or full-time equivalent student enrollment at the host campus, but limits both the home and host campus to counting a cross-enrolled student only for those units in which the student is enrolled at each respective campus. g) Requires the Trustees to establish an easily accessible online database of online courses available at all California State University (CSU) campuses that provides a streamlined method of finding and enrolling in AB 386 Page 4 courses that lead toward graduation, general education and major requirements, as well as plan for a 2015-16 operational intrasystem cross-enrollment process by January 1, 2015. 4) Establishes the following reporting related requirements for measuring the effectiveness of online education at the CSU: a) Requires the Trustees to establish a series of uniform definitions for online education, as specified, by January 1, 2015. b) Requires the Trustees to report key performance data on online courses (to be made available by demographics, including age, gender, and ethnicity) to the Legislature, to include, but not be limited to the number of students enrolled at each campus, course completion rates for both online courses and other than online courses, completion rates for degree programs that include online courses and those that do not, the grade point average for students enrolled in online courses, and the number of students cross-enrolled in online courses at a CSU campus other than the campus at which they are matriculated, by January 1, 2017, and on or before January 1 every two years thereafter. c) Deletes these reporting requirements on July 1, 2021. 5) Requires the CSU Trustees to report to the Legislature, on or before January 1, 2015, on the feasibility of developing an accelerated bachelor's degree completion program consisting of online courses, aimed at students who started college but never obtained a degree. 6) Defines various terms for purposes of the bill. 7) Makes a number of related findings and declarations. AB 386 Page 5 STAFF COMMENTS 1) Need for the bill. According to the author, while the CSU does permit students to concurrently enroll in courses at campuses other than their home campus, the option is severely underutilized. The CSU reports that each campus currently provides its students with an online registration portal allowing students to easily enroll in courses provided at their home campus. Each portal currently operates as an isolated entity, however, and does not provide students the ability to seek and enroll in online courses provided at other California State University (CSU) campuses. 2) Language based on cross enrollment in regular classrooms . The provisions of this bill parallel the current statutes governing cross-enrollment across the public postsecondary education system. The requirements that are to be met by students for enrollment in online courses are essentially the same as those for regular courses. But are these courses the same? According to a study by the Columbia University College Research Center, "Adaptability Online Learning: Differences Across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas", all students who take more online courses, no matter the demographic, are less likely to attain a degree, and some groups, including black, male, younger and lower grade-point-average students are particularly susceptible to this pattern. The study was based on a dataset of nearly 500,000 courses taken by over 40,000 community and technical college students in Washington State in fall 2004. According to the researchers, their findings support the notion that students are not homogenous in their adaptability to the online delivery format and may have substantially different outcomes for online learning, and that these patterns suggest that performance gaps between key demographic groups already observed in face-to-face settings are exacerbated in online courses. Online education is one of many strategies possible AB 386 Page 6 for successfully meeting the increasing demand for higher education opportunity in California. Is online education the objective or is it simply a tool? Recent policy discussion around our public institutions has acknowledged that while California has traditionally been committed to access, we have not always ensured student success. Should the criteria for online cross enrollment be the same for regular cross enrollment courses? Can we expect students that meet these criteria to successfully complete these courses? Staff recommends the bill be amended to additionally require that each campus of the CSU inform potential students of the technical requirements a student must satisfy in order to successfully participate in and complete the online courses, the necessary academic preparation for the online course, and to inform students of any other necessary elements to ensure their success in an online course. 3) Need for an independent analysis/evaluation . This bill currently requires the CSU to report specified information on online courses to the Legislature. However, an independent analysis and evaluation may be a better way of assessing the CSU's progress in making online cross enrollment opportunities available to matriculated students as well as the effectiveness of this strategy for increasing persistence, completion and graduation rates. Staff recommends the bill be amended to require the CSU to report the key performance data to the Legislative Analyst by January 1, 2017 and to require the Legislative Analyst Office to provide a status update on CSU's implementation of the bill's provisions and an assessment of the extent to which CSU's online programs are operating in a manner consistent with legislative intent and requirements by October 2017. 4) Related budget action . The Governor's 2013-14 proposed budget included funding to expand the delivery of higher education courses through the use of technology. The proposal provided a $16.9 million AB 386 Page 7 augmentation to the community colleges and a set aside of $10 million each in the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) budget to increase the number of online courses available to matriculated undergraduates, specifically those courses that have the highest demand, fill quickly, and are prerequisites for many different degrees. The proposal also stipulated that courses must be aimed at advanced students who are likely to succeed in these types of courses. The Budget Act (AB 110, Chapter 20, Budget Act of 2013) was signed by the Governor on June 27, 2013. However, while the Governor included the $20 million he had allocated for purposes of expanding online courses at the UC and CSU, the final budget deleted the requirement that these funds be expended for online courses. The Governor cited concerns that the requirements to expend funds for this purpose would create cost pressures and unnecessary restrictions and that elimination of these earmarks would give both the UC and the CSU greater flexibility to manage resources to meet obligations, operate instructional programs more effectively, and avoid tuition and fee increases. Staff notes that the provisions deleted by the Governor closely parallel the provisions of this bill. 5) Similar legislation . Several bills addressing postsecondary online education were introduced this session. These include: a) SB 520 (Steinberg) creates an incentive grant program to assist faculty and individual campuses of the UC and the CSU and the CCC to provide increased opportunities for students to take online courses. SB 520 is currently awaiting action in Assembly Higher Education. b) SB 547 (Block) requires the academic senates of the UC, the CSU, and the California Community Colleges to jointly develop and identify online AB 386 Page 8 courses available for enrollment by matriculated students at each of the three segments by fall of 2014. SB 547 was heard and passed by this committee by a vote of 9-0 in April 2013, but was subsequently held under submission in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. c) AB 387 (Levine) requires the California State University (CSU) to report performance data for students taking online courses. AB 387 was held under submission in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, but some of its provisions were incorporated into AB 386, which is before the committee today. d) AB 895 (Rendon) establishes the California Postsecondary Online Education Task Force to evaluate and collect data on the current status of postsecondary online education. AB 895 was held under submission in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. e) AB 944 (Nestande) requires the Trustees of the CSU and the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, and requests the Regents of the University of California, to report to the Legislature, by January 1, 2016, and every two years thereafter, on workload and key performance data on distance learning courses. AB 944 was held under submission in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. SUPPORT California State University OPPOSITION None on file.