BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:  April 21, 2015


                       ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION


                                 Jose Medina, Chair


          AB 770  
          (Irwin) - As Amended April 6, 2015


          SUBJECT:  Community colleges:  basic skills innovation program


          SUMMARY:  Authorizes the governing board of a community college  
          district (CCD) to apply to the Chancellor of the California  
          Community Colleges (CCC), for multiyear financial grants and  
          professional development (PD) funding, if a CCD adopts or  
          expands the use of evidence-based models of academic assessment  
          and placement, remediation, and student support that accelerate  
          the progress of underprepared students toward achieving  
          postsecondary educational and career goals.  Specifically, this  
          bill:  





          1)Establishes legislative findings and declarations, including,  
            but not limited to the following: 



             a)   Research in California has demonstrated that relatively  
               few students who enter remediation ultimately attain a  
               postsecondary degree, credential, or transfer to a  
               four-year institution, and that students of color are  








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               disproportionately affected;



             b)   Drawing on national initiatives aimed at increasing  
               student completion of college-level English and mathematics  
               courses, efforts in California have demonstrated the  
               success of innovative ways to deliver English and  
               mathematics remediation; and,

             c)   In those pilot efforts, students' odds of completing  
               college-level English courses more than double, and their  
               odds of completing college-level mathematics courses are  
               more than four times higher in comparison to students in  
               traditional remediation.  However, at most community  
               college campuses, these new approaches are offered on a  
               small scale and are not available to most students.



          2)Establishes a financial grant and professional development  
            funding program, administered by the CCC Chancellor.



          3)Requires the CCC Chancellor to distribute multiyear financial  
            grants and PD funding, upon appropriation by the Legislature  
            for this purpose, to the governing board of a CCD that applies  
            and satisfies the requirements, as specified.

          4)Specifies that monies allocated for the program shall be  
            expended for community colleges within the district to adopt  
            or expand the use of evidence-based models of academic  
            assessment and placement, remediation, and student support  
            that accelerate the progress of underprepared students toward  
            achieving postsecondary educational and career goals.











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          5)Specifies that the governing board of a CCD may apply for  
            funds, as specified, if it is for the purposes of making more  
            effective, evidence-based practices available to significantly  
            more underprepared students who enroll at CCC campuses. 





          6)Specifies that a community college within the district may  
            receive funds for purposes of implementing these  
            evidence-based practices for the first time or expanding  
            evidence-based practices that are in effect as of the date of  
            the district's application for funds.



          7)Requires that the evidence-based strategies implemented or  
            expanded by the governing board of a CCD, as specified, shall  
            include innovative basic skills improvement strategies that  
            have demonstrated effectiveness in accelerating the progress  
            of underprepared students toward, and increasing the number of  
            underprepared students who successfully achieve, one or more  
            of the following goals:



             a)   Completing a college-level English or mathematics  
               course, or both, within a three-course sequence or less;



             b)   Earning eight units applicable to a college certificate  
               or degree; and,

             c)   Earning a college certificate or degree approved by the  
               CCCs.










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          8)Requires, as condition of receiving a grant, that the  
            governing board of a CCD shall demonstrate in its application  
            for funding that the community colleges that will participate  
            in the grant program will redesign their curriculum, career  
            pathways, assessment and placement procedures, or any  
            combination thereof, to implement, or expand the use or  
            application of, one or more of the following practices and  
            principles:



             a)   Adopting placement tests and related policies that  
               include multiple measures of student performance, including  
               grades in high school courses, especially overall grade  
               point average, and input from counselors;



             b)   Increasing the placement of students directly in gateway  
               English and mathematics courses and career pathways  
               supplemented by remediation;

             c)   Aligning content in remedial courses with the students'  
               programs of academic or vocational study to target  
               students' actual needs;



             d)   Completing a college-level English or mathematics  
               course, or both, within a three-course sequence or less;  
               recognizing that students pursuing mathematics-intensive  
               courses of study may require a longer sequence of  
               mathematics coursework;



             e)   Contextualizing remedial instruction in foundational  
               skills for the industry cluster, pathways, or both, in  








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               which the student seeks to advance; and,



             f)   Providing proactive student support services that are  
               integrated with the instruction provided;



          9)Specifies that each participating community college shall be  
            responsible for all of the following:



             a)   Developing a plan based on one or more of the  
               evidence-based principles and practices (as described above  
               in eight - 'a through f') that demonstrates a clear  
               strategy for ensuring that all of the following occur  
               within a five-year period:
               i)     A significant share of the underprepared students  
                 who enroll at participating community colleges within the  
                 CCD achieve one or more of the three goals (as described  
                 above in seven - 'a through c'), and,



               ii)    Underprepared students who are enrolled at the  
                 community college achieve the three goals (as described  
                 above in seven - 'a through c') within a shorter time  
                 period than before the implementation of this measure at  
                 the community college.
          
             b)   Ensuring that its faculty participate in PD regarding  
               academic programs or new curriculum developed or expanded  
               pursuant to this measure, using grant funds to support that  
               faculty participation; and,











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             c)   Annually reporting to the CCC Chancellor's Office  
               (CCCCO) on program outcomes, disaggregated by demographic  
               characteristics of its students, for purposes of measuring  
               progress compared to the community college's performance  
               before its implementation of this measure.  Specifying that  
               these reports should include all of the following:

               i)     The number and percentage of underprepared students  
                 served by the grant program,



               ii)    The number and percentages of these underprepared  
                 students achieving each of the three goals (as described  
                 above in seven - 'a through c'), and,



               iii)   The number of faculty involved and faculty needs  
                 regarding the innovation and operation of courses  
                 pursuant to this measure.
          
          10)Requires the CCCCO to be responsible for all of the  
            following:



             a)   Administering the grant program, and distributing and  
               monitoring awards to recipient CCDs;



             b)   Developing application criteria, administrative  
               guidelines, and other requirements for purposes of  
               administering the grant program; and,



             c)   Aggregating, analyzing, and reporting annually the  








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               information submitted, as specified, to the Legislature on  
               the progress of the grant program in achieving its  
               prescribed purpose.
          


          EXISTING LAW:  establishes the Seymour-Campbell Student Success  
          Act of 2012, which, among other things, specifies that each  
          community college, via their student services, has the  
          responsibility, as specified, to provide a strong foundation and  
          support for the educational goals of their students; cites the  
          services as the Student Success and Support Program (SSSP);  
          requires the services to include, but are not necessarily  
          limited to, student referral to specialized support services as  
          needed and available, including, but not necessarily limited to,  
          programs that teach basic skills education and English as a  
          Second Language (ESL) and evaluation of each student's progress  
          and referral to appropriate interventions for students who are  
          enrolled in basic skills courses; and, requires all CCDs, with  
          the assistance of the CCC Chancellor to establish and maintain  
          institutional research to evaluate the effectiveness of the  
          SSSP, specifying that the metrics used for the research shall  
          include, but not be limited to, academic performance, such as  
          the completion of specified unit thresholds, success in basic  
          skills courses, grade point average, course completion outcomes,  
          transfer readiness, and degree and certificate completion  
          (Education Code Section 78210, et seq.). 


          


          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown


          


          COMMENTS:  Basic skills definition.  Generally, definitions for  








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          basic skills (often referred as "remedial" and/or "remediation")  
          vary, however, for the CCC, "noncredit basic skills courses" are  
          those courses in reading, writing, mathematics, and ESL which  
          are designated by a CCD as noncredit courses pursuant to C. C.  
          R., Title 5, Subdivision (c) of Section 55002.  Additionally,  
          "non-degree applicable basic skills courses" are those courses  
          in reading, writing, mathematics, and ESL which are designated  
          by a CCD as non-degree applicable credit courses pursuant to C.  
          C. R., Title 5, Subdivision (b) of Section 55002.





          Basic skills background.  In 2004, the CCCCO began a  
          comprehensive strategic planning process with the purpose of  
          improving student access and success; and, in January 2006, the  
          CCC Board of Governors adopted the final draft of the plan.  At  
          that time, one of the goals of the plan was to focus on basic  
          skills - ensuring that basic skills development became a major  
          focus and was an adequately funded activity at the CCCs.





          To ensure the former was achieved, the CCCCO, in 2006, launched  
          the Basic Skills Initiative (BSI), which was a grant funded  
          initiative as part of the strategic planning process.  The goal  
          of the BSI was to improve student access and success.  The  
          project addressed credit and noncredit basic skills as well as  
          adult education and programs designed to help underprepared  
          students. 

          A two-tiered approach by BSI created an environment for great  
          accomplishments in basic skills.  One tier of this plan  
          allocated CCCs supplemental funding to specifically address  
          basic skills needs.  This funding was guided by locally  
          developed action plans documenting usage of the funding.  The  








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          outcomes of the BSI were tracked using the Accountability Report  
          for Community Colleges.  The second tier took the shape of a PD  
          grant which was designed to address training needs for faculty  
          and staff in basic skills, and ESL.  

          The CCCCO Student Success Task Force issued a report, per  
          legislative requirements, in 2012.  This report issued several  
          recommendations, including, but not limited to the following: 


          1)The CCC system must develop more effective models of basic  
            skills instruction and implement them on a large scale  
            (indicating that there are new models of basic skills  
            instruction that have yet to be created and that to encourage  
            innovation, the CCCs should provide incentives for developing  
            alternative curricula and taking to scale model programs that  
            work); 


          2)The state should develop a comprehensive strategy for  
            addressing basic skills education in California that results  
            in a unified system that provides all students with the access  
            to basic skills courses in English and mathematics.   
            Additionally, the state should develop a comparable strategy  
            for addressing the needs of adults for courses in ESL; and,


          3)The CCC system, with their K-12 and community-based partners,  
            should develop a clear strategy to respond to the continuum of  
            need in order to move students from educational basic skills  
            to college and career readiness.


          Launched in 2012, the Basic Skills Cohort Tracker gives CCC  
          faculty online access to information about how students'  
          progress through their basic skills sequences in English,  
          reading, ESL, and mathematics.  The Tracker was envisioned and  
          sponsored by the CCC Success Network (3CSN) and developed  
          through a partnership with the Research and Planning Group for  








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          the CCCs and the CCCCO.  To note, through its regional networks  
          and events 3CSN has provided trainings to faculty in how to use  
          the tool, and through its partnership with the California  
          Acceleration Project (CAP), 3CSN has also supported faculty to  
          develop and pilot curricula models that improve completion rates  
          among basic skills students.


          Basic skills state statistics.  According to information  
          provided by the author's office, over 70 percent of first time  
          enrolled students at the CCC are classified as underprepared for  
          college-level course work and in need of remediation.   
          Additionally, according to Learning Works' 2014 brief entitled,  
          "New Study of the California Acceleration Project:  Large and  
          Robust Gains in Student Completion of College English and Math,"  
          accelerated models of remediation are producing great increases  
          in student completion of gatekeeper English and mathematics  
          requirements at CCCs.  The brief found that effective  
          accelerated pathways led to completion gains among all students,  
          regardless of their level of preparation, demographic group, or  
          socioeconomic status.


          The brief contends that said findings are critical to note  
          because remedial course sequences have been identified as a key  
          barrier to college completion.  The brief finds, "Across  
          California, 70-90 percent of CCC students are designated  
          underprepared for college and assigned to remedial courses in  
          English, math, or both.  According to the most recent Student  
          Success Scorecard, just 41 percent of these students went on to  
          transfer or complete a certificate or degree within six years  
          statewide, a substantially lower completion rate than among  
          students designated college prepared."


          California Acceleration Project.  The CAP is an initiative of  
          the state-funded professional development network 3CSN.   
          According to the brief (as referenced above), 16 CCCs piloting  
          accelerated remediation models in 2011-12 as part of the CAP  








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          initiative, found that by redesigning their curricula to reduce  
          students' time in remedial courses by one or more semesters,  
          higher completion rates among students in accelerated  
          remediation occurred.  In English, students' odds of completing  
          a college-level course were 2.3 times greater in high-impact  
          models of acceleration than students in traditional remediation;  
          and, in mathematics, students' odds of completing a  
          college-level course were 4.5 times greater than students in  
          traditional remediation.


          To note, it presently unclear as to the exact number of CCCs  
          that participate in the CAP initiative, but it appears that  
          about half of the CCCs have at least one course (either of  
          English, mathematics, or both), but are only accessible to few  
          students. 


          Need for this measure. According to the author, "Many community  
          college students are limited to the standard remedial courses in  
          math and English that are yielding very poor results.  Allowing  
          for more subjectivity and innovation in remedial courses would  
          allow faculty members to contextualize the remedial learning  
          experience to the benefit of all students, regardless of what  
          their educational goals may be."



          Committee considerations.  Presently, the measure is silent as  
          to when the CCDs would be able to apply for the multiyear grant  
          at the CCCCO.  Committee staff recommends the following  
          amendment:  88800.  A financial grant and professional  
          development funding program, administered by the chancellor, is  
          hereby established.  The chancellor shall distribute multiyear  
          financial grants and professional development funding, upon  
          appropriation by the Legislature,  no later than 180 days upon  
          receiving the appropriation  for this purpose, to the governing  
          board of a community college district that applies and satisfies  
          the requirements of?. 








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          Additionally, the measure requires the CCCCO to submit an annual  
          report to the Legislature about the program, but it is unclear  
          as to when the initial report should be issued; and, the  
          required annual report is in perpetuity.  Committee staff  
          recommends the following amendment: 88810.  (3) (A) Aggregating,  
          analyzing, and reporting   annually   the information submitted  
          pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) to the Legislature  
          on the progress of the grant program in achieving its prescribed  
          purpose.   The report shall be issued every other year commencing  
          the first year the Legislature appropriates funding for this  
          purpose, until July 1, 2024.  The initial report will be due to  
          the Legislature on or before the end of the fiscal year in which  
          the Legislature initially appropriated funds for this purpose.   
          In subsequent years, the report will be due to the Legislature  
          on or before July 1.   


           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          Asian Americans Advancing Justice


          California Business Roundtable


          California Edge Coalition


          California Manufacturers & Technology Association


          Campaign for College Opportunity








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          College Advance


          Complete College America


          Fulfillment Fund


          Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce


          Los Rio Community College District


          Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund


          Orange County Business Council


          Parent Institute for Quality Education


          Southern California College Access Network


          2 Individuals




          Opposition


          None on file.









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          Analysis Prepared by:Jeanice Warden / HIGHER ED. / (916)  
          319-3960