by Tami Nelson, Los Rios Community College Trustee
Many changes are coming to the community college world! California’s first online community college will begin offering classes in the fall of 2019. The college will focus on helping the 2.5 million adult learners in California between 25 to 34 years old who have a high school diploma but no postsecondary degree.
The college’s first three programs will prepare students for careers in medical coding, information technology and supervisor roles in retail and government, for example. College officials say each of those fields has a shortage of workers and requires education beyond high school, though not necessarily a full degree. The online college will expand access to Californians, especially adults who are unable to physically go to a campus due to work and family limitations.
Another big change is the passage of AB 705, which took effect Jan 1,2018. The bill requires that a community college district makes an effort to have students enter and complete transfer-level coursework in English and math within a one year timeframe. Also, instead of using English and math placement exams, the district will use high school coursework, grades, and grade point averages to determine placement of students into classes. These multiple measures have been shown to be more accurate in determining the probability of student success in English and math. Research has shown that students with a high school grade point average of 2.6 and above have been successful 78.6% of the time when placed into a transfer-level English composition class. With the GPA range of 1.9-2.59, the success rate falls to 57.7%. Additional academic or concurrent support is recommended for these students.
The California Community College System has a mission of reducing equity gaps and providing educational access and opportunity. Due to this, over the next three years, the funding formula for California community colleges will be shifting to a performance-based model instead of the current model mainly based on enrollment numbers. Funding will be comprised of enrollment, demographics, and outcomes. Demographic indicators include students who are Pell Grant recipients, Promise Grant students, and those who have financial need.
The outcomes-based funding will be centered around a point system. The most points will be given to students who complete Associate Degrees for Transfer and Associate Degrees. Students will also be given points for credit certificates, taking transfer level math and English within their first year, and taking nine or more CTE units. If students fall into more than one category (for example, a Promise Grant student who completes an Associate Degree for Transfer), they can earn double points.