California’s community colleges began implementing Assembly Bill 705 in fall 2019, making major assessment and placement reforms that moved students away from remedial prerequisites for English and math and into transfer-level courses.
This report examines the progress colleges and students have made in shifting toward transfer-level English courses through fall 2020; it also looks at the impact of the pandemic and the shift to online learning on AB 705’s implementation.
Among the report’s findings:
- Colleges continued to implement AB 705 in the face of COVID-19. Despite a significant decline in enrollment in fall 2020, access to gateway transfer-level English remained high, continuing the progress made in the previous fall. In fact, the share of students enrolling directly in college composition actually increased slightly (from 95% to 97%), and the share of first-time English students completing these courses only declined slightly (from 61% to 59%).
- Colleges are still figuring out the best ways to provide corequisite remediation to their students. In the first year of the pandemic, a slightly lower share of students started in college composition along with corequisite support; among those who did, the rate of successful completion declined (from 58% to 53%). Some colleges found it challenging to shift corequisite courses from face-to-face to online settings—indeed, a handful stopped offering corequisites altogether.
- Colleges must prioritize equitable student success now that nearly all first-time English students are enrolling in transfer-level coursework. While racial/ethnic gaps in access to college composition are mostly closed, completion rates remain significantly lower among Black and Latino students.