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Davis, California

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

California community colleges crack down on casual students

California Community Colleges (CCC) Chancellor Jack Scott presented Student Success Task Force recommendations to the Board of Governors of the CCC in its January 2012 meeting. These changes would allow transfer and graduation rates to improve.

According to the CCC Director of Communications Paige Marlatt Dorr, the CCC Chancellor’s Office is moving toward a phased-in, coordinated implementation of the recommendations that will include consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. She said legislation will be introduced by Feb. 24 due to legislative deadlines.

“This is a comprehensive plan that will result in more students completing certificates and degrees and transferring to four-year institutions,” Scott said in a press release.

The Student Success Task Force was created in compliance with Senate Bill 1143 (SB 1143), which was proposed by Senator Carol Liu (D- La Canada Flintridge) and approved by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sept. 28, 2010.

SB 1143 required the Board of Governors of the CCC to adopt a plan for promoting and improving student success and to establish a task force that examines the best practices for accomplishing this success. In addition, the board is required to report the contents of the plan and the recommendations of the task force to legislative committees by March 1, 2012.

“It was a one-year process, where a task force would meet with a variety of people with different perspectives on community colleges,” said Legislative Director for Senator Liu Robert Oakes. “We looked at ways to improve transfer rates, potentially improve funding and at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office in relation to the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems.”

Oakes said a report was issued in the last few weeks that led out a series of recommendations on how to improve the CCC system.

According to the Student Success Task Force recommendation summary, the reforms include: giving students the tools they need to succeed; prioritizing student enrollment; increasing transparency and closing the achievement gap; improving basic skills education and using technology to help students and create greater efficiency.

“[Senator Liu’s] primary interest was two-fold,” Oakes said. “One was to look at transfer rates and the other part was to look at the whole system and how it operates.”

According to Oakes, the number of people who attend a community college saying they would like to transfer to a CSU or UC is dramatically higher than the number of people who actually do transfer.

“Only 24 percent of them do that and sometimes it takes them up to six years to transfer,” Oakes said. “There’s a disconnect; why aren’t students who want to get into a CSU, UC or private four-year getting there faster or in greater numbers?”

CCC share funding with California K-12 schools, but funding is not necessarily tied to performance. Oakes said funding is based on the number of students who enroll in the class, but not based on the number who finish and earn degrees.

“The de facto rationing system is disproportionately harming first-time students,” Scott said. “Historically underrepresented students would benefit from the enrollment priorities recommended by the Student Success Task Force.”

According to Oakes, many students who accumulate a large number of units at a community college do nothing with them.

“At some point, we wonder why we’re holding up people who want credits to transfer when there are people who have been taking classes for many years over and over again,” Oakes said. “We will probably see several bills and individual community college districts doing some changes to try to make it harder to be a casual student.”

With reforms, causal students in community colleges will have lower priority and a harder time obtaining classes. The Student Success Task Force recommends instead of having registration priority be given to those with the most units, priority should be given to returning and first-time students who have taken a diagnostic exam, participated in orientation and have developed an educational plan.

“The idea is to improve efficiency,” Oakes said. “If it saves costs and still provides high-quality education, we definitely want to do that.”

CLAIRE TAN can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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