BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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

          Bill No:               AB 798           
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          |Author:     |Bonilla                                              |
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          |Version:    |July 1, 2015                                         |
          |            |Hearing Date:     July 8, 2015                       |
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          |Urgency:    |No                       |Fiscal:     |Yes           |
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          |Consultant: |Lenin Del Castillo                                   |
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          Subject:  College Textbook Affordability Act of 2015

            SUMMARY
          
          This bill establishes, until July 1, 2020, a state grant program  
          to incentivize increased adoption of open educational resources  
          at campuses of the California Community Colleges (CCC) and the  
          California State University (CSU).

            BACKGROUND
          
          Existing law:

          1)Requires the CSU Trustees and the CCC Board of Governors, and  
            requests the Regents of the University of California (UC) to  
            work with the academic senates to encourage faculty to give  
            consideration to the least costly practices in assigning  
            textbooks and to encourage faculty to disclose to students how  
            new editions of textbooks are different from previous  
            editions.  Existing 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."  In addition, publishers  
            are asked to disclose to faculty the length of time they  
            intend to produce the current edition and provide faculty free  
            copies of each textbook selected.  (Education Code  66406) 











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          2)Creates the College Textbook Transparency Act which requires  
            faculty members and academic departments at an institution of  
            higher education to consider cost in the adoption of textbooks  
            and also requires textbook publishers to disclose specified  
            information.  (EC  66406.7)


          3)Establishes the California Digital Open Source Library  
            administered by the CSU, in coordination with the CCC, for the  
            purpose of housing open source materials while providing an  
            internet web-based way for students, faculty, and staff to  
            easily find, adopt, utilize, or modify course materials for  
            little or no cost.  Specifies that the CSU shall also act in  
            coordination with the UC in administering the California  
            Digital Open Source Library.  (EC  66408)


          4)Establishes the California Open Educational Resources Council,  
            composed of faculty leaders from the CCC, CSU, and UC, and  
            administered by the Intersegmental Committee of the Academic  
            Senates of these segments of public postsecondary education,  
            or a successor group.  Provides that the Council shall be  
            responsible for the development of a list of 50 strategically  
            selected lower division courses in the public postsecondary  
            segments for which high-quality, affordable, digital open  
            source textbooks and related materials shall be developed or  
            acquired. (EC  66409)


          5)Requires, by January 1, 2020, publishers of textbooks used at  
            the University of California (UC), California State University  
            (CSU), and the California Community College (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  66410)  


            ANALYSIS
          
          This bill:









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          1)Establishes the College Textbook Affordability Act of 2015 to  
            reduce costs for college students by encouraging faculty to  
            accelerate the adoption of lower cost, high-quality, open  
            educational resources (OERs).  Provides that faculty  
            development shall be a key component of this initiative, and  
            requires the initiative to utilize the resources identified,  
            houses, produced, and otherwise found appropriate to the  
            California Open Education Resources Council and the California  
            Digital Open Source Library.  


          2)Establishes the Open Educational Resources Adoption Incentive  
            Fund to provide incentives and rewards for campus and faculty  
            efforts to accelerate the adoption of OERs for the purpose of  
            reducing students' cost and improving access to quality  
            materials.


          3)Provides that moneys in the fund, upon appropriation by the  
            Legislature, are to create and support faculty professional  
            development, professional development for staff, OER curation  
            activities, curriculum modification, and technology support  
            for faculty, students, and staff.


          4)Prohibits moneys in the fund from being used for direct  
            compensation for faculty who adopt OERs or for purchasing new  
            equipment.


          5)Defines OERs as 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, and may include  
            other resources that are legally available and free of cost to  
            students.


          6)Authorizes campuses, upon adoption of a local resolution  
            stating its intent to increase student access to high-quality  
            OERs and in collaboration with students and the  
            administration, to develop a plan that describes evidence of  
            the campus' commitment and readiness to effectively spend  
            grant money to support faculty adoption of OERs, as specified.  








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            The plan shall include three benchmarks focusing on reducing  
            costs for students and increasing the adoption of high-quality  
            OERs consisting of annual goals for three years.


          7)Provides that a plan that demonstrates readiness requirements  
            shall be given priority for approval, as specified, including  
            concrete benchmarks that demonstrate quantifiable outcomes to  
            be achieved from its implementation, the utilization of  
            available open educational resources (OERs), and an estimate  
            of the amount of money to be saved per student.


          8)Provides that each local campus may submit the resolution and  
            plan to the California Open Education Resources Council for an  
            initial grant.  


          9)Requires the California Open Education Resources Council to  
            review the plan, and approve it if it meets the requirements,  
            as specified.  Provides that the plans shall be submitted and  
            approved in one of two rounds, as specified, with up to 100  
            plans approved per year.  Allows administrative support to be  
            provided by COOL4Ed to the California Open Education Resources  
            Council.


          10)Limits an initial grant at $10,000 and provides that each  
            campus shall receive an annual bonus grant of up to $10,000  
            for up to three years for meeting established performance  
            benchmarks for accelerating usage of OERs in courses, as  
            specified.  Allows additional bonus grants if sufficient funds  
            remain available in the Open Educational Adoption Incentive  
            Fund after the first bonus grants for reaching the third  
            benchmark are awarded.


          11)Requires the bonus grants to be used for any, or some  
            combination, of faculty professional development, professional  
            development of staff, OER curation activities, curriculum  
            modification, and technological support for faculty, students,  
            and staff.










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          12)Requires a grant recipient to report to the California Open  
            Education Resources Council as to whether its benchmarks have  
            been reached to determine whether it is eligible for bonus  
            grants, as specified.


          13)Requires the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates to  
            report to the Legislature before July of each year, commencing  
            in 2018, as to whether the grants are increasing the rate of  
            adoption of OERs and decreasing textbook costs for college  
            students. 


          14)Provides that the bill's provisions shall become inoperative  
            on July 1, 2020.

          15)Authorizes the College Textbook Affordability Act of 2015 to  
            be funded from the existing appropriation for the California  
            Open Education Resources Council and the California Digital  
            Open Source Library, as specified.

          16)Specifies that moneys appropriated for purposes of the  
            College Textbook Affordability Act of 2015 shall not be  
            required to be matched by private funds.

          17)Requires 25 percent of each grant awarded to a campus for  
            purposes of this bill shall be matched by the campus and used  
            by the campus to ensure administrative and faculty support of  
            the campus' plan.

          18)Specifies that money provided to a member of the California  
            Open Education Resources Council for purposes of the council  
            carrying out its duties shall not exceed $3,000 total and  
            shall be provided as a stipend.  Provides that no additional  
            money shall be provided for travel purposes.

          STAFF COMMENTS

       1)Need for the bill.  According to the author's office, "many  
            students and families are struggling to pay for a college  
            education.  One part of this problem is the rising cost of  
            textbooks.  Every year, students pay around $1,300 for  
            textbooks as prices have increased at over three times the  
            rate of inflation.  The cost of textbooks comprises 40 percent  








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            of tuition at a two-year community college and 13 percent at a  
            four-year public school.  To afford these costs, students take  
            on more debt, work more hours, or make choices that hinder  
            their academic success."  This bill is intended to save  
            college students money by providing incentives for local  
            campuses to adopt open educational resources (OERs) and reduce  
            the cost of textbooks.

       2)Open educational resources.  OERs are educational materials that  
            include 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, such as  
            allowing students and faculty to access textbooks and related  
            materials for free online or the purchase of hardcopies that  
            are more affordable than traditional textbooks.  They also  
            enable faculty to customize learning materials to suit their  
            course objectives and can provide students with a more  
            flexible set of tools that can contribute to a richer learning  
            experience.

            The California Open Education Resources Council reports that  
            it has thus far selected the 50 courses, identified more than  
            150 appropriate OERs for said courses, developed a  
            standardized peer review and approval process, and recruited  
            faculty to conduct the reviews.  As of March 2015, the  
            California Open Education Resources Council reports that  
            reviews are completed for 10 courses, involving 34 OER  
            textbooks.

       3)Cost of textbooks.  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.  A 2014 Student  
            Public Interest Research Group 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  
            doing so, that would hurt their grade in a course.   
            Additionally, almost half of the students reported that the  
            cost of textbooks impacted how many courses they were able to  








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            take at a time.  

       4)Incentives for faculty.  One could argue the bill is unnecessary  
            since faculty already have the ability to adopt OERs.  The  
            author's office indicates that the main hurdles preventing the  
            adoption of OERs include lack of time for faculty to develop  
            them or to adapt their classes, lack of information on  
            currently available OERs, and lack of technological support  
            for faculty.  According to a presentation by faculty and  
            administrators working on the development and implementation  
            of Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online  
            Teaching, professors are not adopting OERs quickly because  
            they do not know what is available or believe it will be  
            difficult to do.  The bill seeks to address these hurdles by  
            leveraging existing funds to provide the time and support for  
            faculty to adopt open educational resources (OERs).   
            Specifically, the bill would provide yearly benchmark  
            incentives to accelerate the rate of adoption at local  
            campuses.

       5)Source of funding.  SB 1052 (Steinberg, Chapter 621, Statutes of  
            2012) established the California OER Council, to develop a  
            list of 50 lower division courses across the three segments  
            for which high-quality, affordable digital open source  
            textbooks and related material shall be developed or acquired,  
            to create and administer a review and approval process for  
            open source materials, and to establish a competitive  
            request-for-proposal process in which faculty members,  
            publishers, and other interested parties would apply for funds  
            to produce 50 high-quality, affordable, digital open source  
            textbooks and related materials.  An appropriation of $5  
            million was provided for this effort, to be matched by  
            nonstate funds.  This bill proposes to utilize unspent funds  
            from this appropriation for its purposes.

       6)Fiscal impact.  According to the Assembly Appropriations  
            Committee, this bill would utilize approximately $4 million in  
            previously appropriated funds that remain available for  
            implementation of SB 1052 and SB 1053 (Steinberg, Chapter 622,  
            Statutes of 2012) for the purposes of this bill, including the  
            California Open Education Resource Council's administrative  
            costs.

       7)Related and prior legislation.  








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            SB 1052 (Steinberg, Chapter 621, Statutes of 2012) created the  
            California Open Educational Resources Council to identify 50  
            courses where OERs could be created or identified in order to  
            reduce costs for students.  

            SB 1053 (Steinberg, Chapter 622, Statutes of 2012) created the  
            California Digital Open Source Library to provide OERs in one  
            central location.  

            SUPPORT
          
          Academic Senate for California Community Colleges
          California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office
          California State Student Association (sponsor)
          California State University
          Cerritos Community College District
          Community College League of California
          OpenStax
          TechNet

            OPPOSITION
           
           None received.

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