BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
                              Senator Carol Liu, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:              AB 770             
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          |Author:    |Irwin                                                |
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          |Version:   |July 1,  2015                               Hearing  |
          |           |Date          July 15, 2015                          |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:       |Yes            |
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          |Consultant:|Kathleen Chavira                                     |
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          Subject:  Community colleges:  basic skills innovation program

            SUMMARY
          
          This bill adds new requirements for receiving grant funding  
          under the recently established Community Colleges Basic Skills  
          and Student Outcomes Transformation Program, specifies the  
          criteria and funding levels for distribution of the grant funds  
          to recipient colleges, and requires that $3 million of the $60  
          million appropriated for the program in the 2015-16 Budget Act  
          be set aside for statewide technical assistance, as specified.  

            BACKGROUND
          
          Existing law establishes the Community Colleges Basic Skills and  
          Student Outcomes Transformation Program for the purpose of  
          adopting or expanding 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.   
          (Education Code  88800)

          Existing law outlines the responsibilities of community college  
          districts, the responsibilities of the Chancellor's Office, and  
          requires that the Legislative Analyst's Office aggregate,  
          analyze and report specified information to the Legislature on  
          the progress of the grant program by December 1, 2019.  (EC   
          88810)

            ANALYSIS







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          This bill:

       1)Requires that a community college district submit a plan to the  
            Chancellor's Office that details the strategy of a college or  
            colleges within the district for achieving the goals of the  
            grant program in order to receive a grant from the Basic  
            Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation Program.

       2)Requires that two levels of funding be awarded to grant  
            recipients as follows:

               a)        Requires a $500,000 award to a recipient college  
               that has no evidence based practices in place as of the  
               date of the initial award and that in order to receive a  
               grant from the Basic Skills Innovation Grant Program plans  
               to implement two or more evidence-based practices.

               b)        Requires a $750,000 award to a recipient college  
               that has at least one evidence-based practice in place as  
               of the date of its initial award and plans to scale up one  
               or more practices or implement at least one additional new  
               practice, or both, as long as at least two evidence based  
               practices are implemented or scaled up with the funds.

       3)Encourages recipients to implement additional evidence-based  
            practices as specified.

       4)Authorizes, if funding is available, a college that receives a  
            grant to submit plans to scale up one or more of its  
            implemented practices to receive funds for years two or three  
            or both, but provides that grant priority is required to be  
            given to colleges yet to receive funding. 

       5)Requires that $3 million of the funds be set aside statewide for  
            technical assistance to be provided by content experts  
            selected through a proposal process, developed by the  
            Chancellor's Office, to provide technical assistance to  
            colleges in the following areas:

               a)        Improving student placement using multiple  
               measures, as specified.

               b)        Contextualizing remedial instruction, as  








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               specified.

               c)        Developing and offering effective and shortened  
               English and math remedial course sequences, as specified.

       6)Provides that technical assistance should help achieve the  
            following goals:

               a)        Improve the accuracy of student placement.

               b)        Place as many students as appropriate directly in  
               gateway, University of California and California State  
               University transferable English and math courses and career  
               pathways, with remedial instruction integrated for  
               underprepared students. 

               c)        Help students complete college-level English or  
               math within a two or three course sequence.

               d)        Provide proactive student support.

       7)Provides that technical assistance be provided during the first  
            three years and authorizes a recipient college or district to  
            use grant funds to purchase additional technical assistance,  
            as appropriate.  

       8)Makes other technical changes.

          STAFF COMMENTS
          
       1)Need for the bill.  According to the author this bill would  
            establish a more structured implementation of the Basic Skills  
            and Student Outcome Transformation Program recently authorized  
            in the 2015-16 Budget Act.  Its provisions are an effort to  
            ensure that this funding is well targeted and provided at a  
            level that ensures the success of high impact practices in the  
            delivery of remedial instruction.  The bill provides guidance  
            to the Chancellor's Office in the administration of the  
            program by outlining specific levels of funding, requiring  
            submission of a plan, and setting aside $3 million for  
            technical assistance. 

       2)Basic Skills. Basic skills courses provide those foundational  
            skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and English as a  








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            Second Language (ESL), as well as learning skills and study  
            skills, which are necessary for students to succeed in  
            college-level work.  According to a survey by the California  
            Community Colleges (CCC) Chancellor's Office, about 85 percent  
            of incoming community college students arrive unprepared for  
            college-level work in math, and about 70 percent arrive  
            unprepared for college-level English.  
                
            According to the Community Colleges 2012 report on Basic  
            Skills Accountability, student progress metrics developed by  
            the CCC find that:

             a)   Of students who assessed at below transfer level in  
               mathematics, the largest
          proportion assessed at three levels below transfer level, and  
          only 14 percent of this proportion succeeded in completing  
          transfer-level mathematics.

             b)   Of students who assessed at below transfer level in  
               English writing, the largest proportion assessed at two  
               levels below transfer level, and about 38 percent of this  
               proportion succeeded in completing transfer-level English.

       1)Basic skills reform.  In response to the high levels of  
            remediation and increased interest in improving college  
            completion rates, there has been a national movement to reform  
            remedial education. According to Learning Works a foundation  
            supported organization operated under the fiscal sponsorship  
            of Foundation for California Community Colleges (FCCC), the  
            non-profit auxiliary for the California Community Colleges,  
            this movement has been spurred by three important trends in  
            the national research on community colleges: 1) studies  
            showing that huge numbers of students drop out before making  
            meaningful progress in college, and that the more layers of  
            remedial coursework students must take, the lower their  
            completion of college-level English and math, 2) studies  
            questioning the accuracy of the standardized tests that sort  
            students into different levels of remediation, and 3) studies  
            showing significantly better outcomes among students enrolled  
            in accelerated models of remediation. 

            According to a Learning Works' 2014 brief entitled, "New Study  
            of the California Acceleration Project:  Large and Robust  
            Gains in Student Completion of College English and Math,"  








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            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. According to the  
            16 CCCs piloting accelerated remediation models in 2011-12 as  
            part of the California Acceleration Project (CAP) 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.

       2)Community Colleges Basic Skills and Student Outcomes  
            Transformation Program. SB 81 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal  
            Review, Chapter 22, Statutes of 2015) established a new  
            program for the purpose of adopting or expanding the use of  
            evidence-based practices for accelerating completion of basic  
            skills courses. The Budget Act provided $60 million for the  
            program.  

            This bill sets aside $3 million of the $60 million for  
            purposes of providing technical assistance and specifies the  
            exact grant amounts to be awarded to districts. According to  
            the author and sponsor, these provisions are motivated by a  
            concern that the resources and expertise necessary for the  
            success of the program do not currently exist within the  
            Chancellor's office.  The intent of this bill is to provide  
            guidance to the Chancellor's Office in the administration of  
            the program to ensure that sufficient funding is provided for  
            campuses to successfully implement the strategies and reforms  
            they propose and to ensure that grant recipients are provided  
            with the technical expertise and assistance necessary to  
            achieve the goals of the program. 

            However, as currently drafted the bill statutorily provides  
            for the distribution and use of funds without any clear  
            relationship to the scope and scale of the proposed plan.  It  
            also eliminates the discretion of the Chancellor's Office to  








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            determine the appropriate balance of funding for grants and  
            technical support. In order to ensure that the Chancellor's  
            office retains the ability and flexibility to administer the  
            new program, but provide the support necessary for successful  
            program implementation, staff recommends the bill be amended  
            to delete lines 21-32 on page 6 and to delete page 7 and  
            instead:  

            Staff recommends the bill be amended on Page 3 line 7 to  
            require that the plan, at a minimum, specify the number of  
            students served, strategies to be employed and the plan's  
            projected outcomes. 

            Staff also recommends the bill be amended to expand the  
            responsibilities of the Office of the Chancellor in  
            subdivision (d) to additionally: 

            "3) Determine the level of funding to be awarded to a  
            recipient based upon the scope and complexity of the work  
            proposed in the plan as evidenced by the number of students  
            served, strategies to be employed and projected outcomes.
                
            4) Consult with internal and external stakeholders for the  
            purpose of advising on the creation and composition of a team  
            of technical assistance providers to provide assistance to  
            colleges in the development of their proposals and the  
            implementation of their plans.

             (A)  Stakeholders shall include, but not be limited to,  
               representatives from campuses, faculty, administrators, and  
               other experts with experience implementing evidence-based  
               practices accelerating completion of basic skills courses.

             (B)  Technical assistance providers shall have demonstrated  
               that they have expertise in the development and/or  
               implementation of the evidence-based practices outlined in  
               subdivision (a). 

             (C)  The Chancellor's Office may contract with the identified  
               technical assistance providers to provide assistance in the  
               development and implementation of plans by applicant and  
               recipient districts."

            SUPPORT








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          Asian American Advancing Justice - Los Angeles
          California EDGE Coalition
          California Manufacturers & Technology Association
          California Teachers Association
          Campaign for College Opportunity
          Community College League of California
          Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
          MALDEF
          ReadyNation California

           OPPOSITION
           
           None received.

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