BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:  April 21, 2015


                       ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION


                                 Jose Medina, Chair


          AB 798  
          (Bonilla) - As Amended April 6, 2015


          SUBJECT:  College Textbook Affordability Act of 2015


          SUMMARY:  Establishes the College Textbook Affordability Act of  
          2015 and creates the Open Educational Resources (OER) Adoption  
          Incentive Fund in the State Treasury.  Specifically, this bill:   



          1)Establishes the College Textbook Affordability Act of 2015  
            with the goal of reducing costs for college students by  
            encouraging faculty to accelerate the adoption of lower cost,  
            high-quality, OER; specifies that faculty development shall be  
            a key component of this acceleration initiative; and, funding  
            for this measure shall be provided in the annual Budget Act.


          2)Creates the OER Adoption Incentive Fund in the State Treasury  
            in order to provide incentives and reward campus and faculty  
            efforts to accelerate adoption of OER for the purpose of  
            reducing students' costs and improving access to quality  
            materials.


          3)Defines the term "fund" to mean the OER Adoption Incentive  
            Fund.








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          4)Defines "OER" to mean high-quality teaching, learning, and  
            research resources that reside in the public domain or have  
            been released under an intellectual property license that  
            permits their free use and repurposing by others.  


          5)Declares that "OER" includes, but is not limited to, a) full  
            courses; b) course materials; c) modules; d) textbooks; e)  
            streaming videos; f) tests g) software; and, h) any other  
            tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to  
            knowledge.


          6)Specifies that monies in the fund shall be used by California  
            Community Colleges (CCC), California State University (CSU),  
            and University of California (UC) campuses to create and  
            support faculty professional development (PD), OER curation  
            activities, technology support for the faculty, or some  
            combination thereof; and, specifies that monies in the fund  
            shall not be used for direct compensation for faculty members  
            who adopt OER.


          7)Specifies that the local academic senate of a campus of the  
            UC, CSU, or the CCC may adopt a local campus resolution, in  
            collaboration with students and the administration, stating  
            its intent to increase access to high quality OER; and, upon  
            adoption of the resolution, the campus may submit the  
            resolution to the respective segment office for an initial  
            grant from the fund to establish a plan and strategy for  
            accelerating adoption of high-quality OER on its campus, and  
            developing the accompanying PD.


          8)Requires the creation of the plan and strategy to be a  
            collaboration between the campus academic senate and the  
            recognized campus student body organization.








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          9)Requires each plan to include three benchmarks, focusing on  
            reducing costs for students and increasing the adoption of  
            high-quality OER; and, specifies each local campus shall  
            determine its own benchmarks with oversight of the benchmarks  
            provided when the grants are approved by the respective  
            segment office.


          10)Specifies that the strategy shall include continued access to  
            a hard copy of materials through the local campus bookstore  
            and ensure access to materials offline for students.


          11)Requires the respective segment office to review and, if it  
            meets the requirements, as specified, approve the resolution,  
            and the initial grant shall be administered by the designated  
            segment office in collaboration with the campus president,  
            provost, or chief academic officer and the recognized campus  
            student body organization.


          12)Specifies that the designated segment office for the CCC may  
            be the Success Center for the CCC or another appropriate  
            office; and, that the designated segment office for the CSU  
            may be the Academic Technology Services or another appropriate  
            office.


          13)Appropriates an unknown dollar amount for the initial grant;  
            and, an unknown dollar amount for a bonus grant when a  
            campuses reaches its first, second, and third benchmark in  
            using OER on campus and decreasing textbook costs for students  
            in the first, second, and third year of implementation. 


          14)Specifies that the bonus grants shall be used for faculty PD,  
            OER curation activities, technology support for the faculty,  








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            or some combination thereof, administered by the local  
            academic senate in collaboration with the campus president,  
            provost, or chief academic officer and the recognized campus  
            student body organization.


          15)Requires a grant recipient to report to its respective  
            segment office as to whether its benchmarks have been reached  
            and it is eligible for bonus grants, as specified.


          16)Requires the Chancellors of the CCC and CSU, and the  
            President of the UC to report to the Legislature before July 1  
            each year as to whether the grants are increasing the rate of  
            adoption of OER and decreasing textbook costs for college  
            students.


          17)Sunsets the provisions of this Act on January 1, 2021, unless  
            a later enacted statute, that becomes operative on or before  
            January 1, 2021 deletes or extends the dates.


          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Requires the CSU Trustees and the CCC Board of Governors, and  
            requests the UC Regents to work with the academic senates to  
            encourage faculty to give consideration to the least costly  
            practices in assigning textbooks; to encourage faculty to  
            disclose to students how new editions of textbooks are  
            different from previous editions; and, the cost to students  
            for textbooks selected, among other things.  Current law also  
            urges textbook publishers to provide information to faculty  
            when they are considering what textbooks to order, and to post  
            information on the publishers' Web sites, including "an  
            explanation of how the newest edition is different from  
            previous editions."  Publishers are also asked to disclose to  
            faculty the length of time they intend to produce the current  








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            edition and provide faculty free copies of each textbook  
            selected (Education Code Section 66406).  
          2)Creates the College Textbook Transparency Act, which, among  
            other things, requires faculty members and academic  
            departments at an institution of higher education to consider  
            cost in the adoption of textbooks; and, requires textbook  
            publishers to disclose specified information (EC Section  
            66406.7).


          3)Requires, by January 1, 2020, publishers of textbooks used at  
            the UC, CSU, and the CCC, or private postsecondary educational  
            institutions, to the extent practicable, to make textbooks  
            available in whole or in part for sale in an electronic format  
            and requires the electronic format to contain the same content  
            as the printed version (EC Section 66410).    


          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown


          COMMENTS:  Background.  According to the College Board, the  
          average undergraduate student should budget between $1,200 and  
          $1,300 for textbooks and supplies each year.  That figure is as  
          much as 40 percent of tuition at a two-year community college  
          and 13 percent at a four-year public institution.  According to  
          the Student Public Interest Research Groups (Student PIRGs),  
          February 2015 report, entitled "Open Textbooks:  The  
          Billion-Dollar Solution," since 1978, college textbook costs  
          have increased to 812 percent, that is to say, it means that  
          textbook prices have increased at 3.2 times the rate of  
          inflation.  A 2014 Student PIRG study found that 65 percent of  
          students skipped buying or renting a textbook because it was too  
          expensive, and 94 percent of those students felt that in so  
          doing, there grade would suffer in a course.  Additionally,  
          almost half of the students said the cost of textbooks impacted  
          how many course they were able to take.










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          What are OER?  OER are educational materials such as textbooks,  
          research articles, videos, assessments, or simulations that are  
          either licensed under an open copyright license or are in the  
          public domain.  OERs provide no-cost access and no-cost  
          permission to revise, reuse, remix, or redistribute the  
          materials.  According to a 2012 policy brief by the Center for  
          American Progress and EDUCAUSE, digital OERs offer many  
          advantages over traditional textbooks:  they allow students and  
          faculty to access textbooks and related materials for free  
          online or purchase hardcopies that are more affordable than  
          traditional textbooks; they enable faculty to customize learning  
          materials to suit their course objectives; and, they can provide  
          students with a more flexible set of tools that can contribute  
          to a richer learning experience.


          Purpose of this measure.  According to the author, in order to  
          reduce costs for students and increase the rate of adoption of  
          OER, faculty need support on their local campus to help learn  
          about new technology available and to find the time to update  
          their courses in order to use OER.  The author states, "AB 798  
          provides the funding and incentive necessary to support  
          professors when they choose to adopt OER.  The College Textbook  
          Affordability Act recognizes that this support will be different  
          for every local campus depending on existing programs, makeup of  
          student body and number of professors.  Each local campus can  
          create a plan that will specifically address the hurdles to OER  
          on their local campus."


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          Academic Senate for California Community Colleges








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          California State Student Association 


          TechNet




          Opposition


          None on file.





          


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