Community Colleges to End English and Math Placement Testing

Photo illustration by Liz Fuentes / el Don

For the first time in decades, high school transcripts, coursework and grades will count more than placement testing. Starting in fall 2019, students will no longer be required to take English and math placement tests when enrolling in a California community college.

Assembly Bill 705, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in late 2017, was designed to help students prepare to transfer to a four-year university faster. 

“We are ending remedial education as it has existed for decades,” Board of Governors President Tom Epstein said. “Research shows that students are far more prepared than assessment tests have acknowledged. A student’s high school performance is a much stronger predictor of success in transfer-level courses than standardized placement tests.”

Over the years, research, with the input of educators, determined that prerequisite courses are not beneficial and instead hurt student morale. 

“The lower [students] start in the developmental sequence, the more we’re losing them,” said SAC Assessment Center Counselor and Coordinator Maria Aguilar Beltran. 

In an effort to help incoming students transfer faster, SAC is adding support labs to transfer-level courses.

The support labs teach math, English and reading skills and assist in getting students to understand the coursework while taking the course, according to Ashly Bootman, co-chair of the English department. 

“The whole point of AB 705 is to try to get students ready as they are doing the work. What a lot of people call it is just-in-time remediation so that your sort of helping them as they go,” Bootman said. 

Students like Luz Rodriguez, who recently graduated high school and completed English 101 at SAC, believes the honors and advanced placement courses in high school gave her the skills to complete transfer-level English. 

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The disconnect between the administration and the students on the speculated effectiveness of AB 705 brings a new set of challenges this fall. 

“These changes constitute a major step toward meeting the commitments and goals set forth in the California Community Colleges,” California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, said. 

Ashley Ramynke

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