BILL ANALYSIS Ó SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION Carol Liu, Chair 2013-2014 Regular Session BILL NO: SB 1200 AUTHOR: Padilla AMENDED: April 2, 2014 FISCAL COMM: Yes HEARING DATE: April 9, 2014 URGENCY: No CONSULTANT:Kathleen Chavira SUBJECT : Academic requirements for undergraduate admission. SUMMARY This bill requires the California State University (CSU) Trustees and requests the University of California (UC) Regents to create guidelines for high school computer science courses to satisfy A-G subject requirements for the area of mathematics, for purposes of undergraduate admissions to the institutions. BACKGROUND Current law requires the CSU and requests the UC to establish a model uniform set of academic standards for high school courses that satisfy university admission requirements. In addition, both the CSU and the UC were directed to implement a speedy process whereby schools could obtain approval of their courses for admission purposes, and require that this process notify applicant schools whether a submitted course has been approved or denied by August 1 each school year. (Education Code § 66205.5) The University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) have established common high school course requirements for undergraduate admissions to ensure that potential university students are prepared to engage and be successful in university-level coursework. Students who follow the articulated sequence of courses in each of the subject areas listed below and who meet other specified criteria are eligible to apply and be considered for admission. The following list is commonly referred to the "a-g" subject area requirements: a) 2 years of history/social science. SB 1200 Page 2 b) 4 years of college preparatory English or language instruction. c) 3 years of college preparatory mathematics. d) 2 years of laboratory science. e) 2 years of the same language other than English. f) 1 year visual and performing arts. g) g) 1 year college preparatory electives. ANALYSIS This bill : 1) Requires the CSU trustees, and requests the UC Regents to create guidelines for high school computer science courses to satisfy the "a-g" subject requirements for the area of mathematics, for purposes of undergraduate admissions. 2) Defines "a-g" subject requirements, for purposes of the bill, as the pattern of college preparatory courses required for entrance as a first-year student at the UC. STAFF COMMENTS 1) Need for the bill . According to the author, neither the UC nor the CSU count computer science courses as satisfying a mathematics or science requirement ("c" or "d" requirement) towards admission. The author is concerned that, at best, these courses are treated as electives ("g" requirement), if approved. 2) Current process . Generally, the process of assessing the suitability of specific courses for meeting subject area requirements has been in the purview of the faculty of the UC, through the Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS) which oversees all matters relating to the admissions of undergraduate students. A course's "a-g" approval is based on the "a-g" course evaluation guidelines and the subject-specific course criteria SB 1200 Page 3 established by UC faculty. California high schools can submit their courses to UC for "a-g" certification and once approved, the "a-g" course is added to the school's "a-g" course list. To satisfy the subject requirements, the course must appear on the school's course list for the year the student took the course. In 2003, both the CSU and the UC made slight changes to their "a-g" subject matter requirements in order to align them for any students wishing to apply to both universities. Since then, the CSU has deferred initial recommendations of additions or revisions to the "a-g" subject matter requirements to the UC. According to the CSU all major shifts in these requirements are discussed jointly between both Academic Senates for each respective university. While CSU ultimately has the final decision regarding the acceptance of these courses, the UC has generally taken the lead on "a-g" subject matter requirements for high school applicants. 3) Current status of computer science courses . The UC Office of the President issued a status report on high school computer science courses in January 2014. According to the UC, in 2013-14 over 400 high schools (about 20 percent) offered at least one UC approved computer science course. The majority of these courses will satisfy the "g," or elective requirement for admissions purposes. In March 2013, BOARS convened six faculty advisory workgroups with representatives from across all nine undergraduate UC campuses to address gaps in the course criteria for "a-g" subject requirements. The UC noted that the mathematics workgroup encouraged the development and submission of computer science courses in either the math "c" or the college-preparatory elective area "g." According to the UC Office of the President, all approved courses in the mathematics "c" requirement are expected to satisfy specified criteria, as outlined in the "Statement of Competencies in Mathematics Expected of Entering College Students". Additionally, other rigorous courses that use math concepts, include a mathematics SB 1200 Page 4 prerequisite, and that are intended for 11th and 12th grade students, such as discrete mathematics or computer science may also satisfy the math requirement. According to the UC, there is only one school in the state that currently offers computer science courses approved in area "c" under "Advanced Mathematics." The high school offers 3 honors courses offering advanced topics in computer science in Computer Architecture, Digital Signal Processing, and Numeric Methods. In its status report, the UC noted that some of the challenges of expanding computer science education in high schools include identifying appropriate instructors and institutional resource limitations. 4) Common Core issues . During the 2010-11 academic year, BOARS updated the area "b" (English) and area '"c" (mathematics) requirements to align with the Common Core Standards in response to said standards' adoption by the State Board of Education. During 2012-13, the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates revised the documents used to evaluate high school mathematics courses to align with the Common Core State Standards in Math. Current law required the SBE to adopt revised frameworks that are aligned to the common core standards in Mathematics by November 2013, and English language arts by May 2014. Current law also authorizes the SBE to adopt a revised framework for history social science, but only after the CDE has completed work related to the frameworks for the common core standards. Staff is unaware of any discussion of high school computer science course content being aligned to the common core standards. Should a computer science course be recognized as meeting the UC subject matter mathematics requirement if the course content is not aligned to the common core standards? 5) Is this bill necessary ? This bill requires the UC to create guidelines for high school computer science courses to satisfy the mathematics area subject requirements. As outlined in staff comments 3 and 4, it appears that the UC has already undertaken the requested SB 1200 Page 5 activity, that certain computer science courses can meet the mathematics area subject requirements, and that this information is available to high schools. What additional information are the bill's provisions expected to provide? 6) Alternative approach . If the committee feels that the bill's provisions result in additional meaningful information for high schools, an alternative approach may be more appropriate. This bill creates a new code section specifically focused on computer science courses and statutorily outlines reference to current Academic Senate regulations defining UC subject matter admissions policy. In light of the issues raised in staff comments #3 and #4, it seems essential to ensure that legislative direction to create guidelines for the development of computer science courses that meet math requirements not be interpreted to undermine the existing work of university faculty to recognize the rigor of the newly adopted common core standards in its evaluation of courses. In addition, rather than codify Academic Senate regulations, it may be prudent to incorporate these provisions in the existing statutory language regarding the responsibility of the UC to develop academic standards for high school courses. Staff recommends the contents of the bill be deleted and that instead, the following additions to Education Code section 66205.5 be inserted: (e) Develop guidelines for high school computer science courses that may be approved for the purposes outlined in (a). For computer science courses determined to meet mathematics subject area requirements, the University of California shall ensure that these courses build upon fundamental mathematics content provided in courses that meet the requirements of (f). (f) It is the intent of the Legislature that the academic standards for high school courses, adopted pursuant to and for the purposes outlined in (a) are aligned with the standards developed pursuant to Education Code Section 60605.8). SB 1200 Page 6 7) Related legislation . AB 1764 (Olsen & Buchanan) authorizes the governing board of a school district that offers more than two courses in mathematics to award a student up to one mathematics course credit for successfully completing a UC approved computer science course in category "c." SUPPORT None received on this version. OPPOSITION None received.