BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    




                           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.








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           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  







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               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  







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               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  







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               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).  







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            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.