A central goal of California’s AB 705, passed in 2017, was to ensure that all students complete transfer-level English and math classes within a year, without first taking remedial courses. In fact, it requires that colleges place students into courses where they have the greatest likelihood of completing transfer courses, and restricts them from requiring remediation that delays students’ progress toward a degree. In July, EdSource reported that a majority of the state’s community colleges are still not yet fully implementing the requirements of this law.
It can be challenging for colleges to wade through uncharted waters and make the systemic changes needed to meet the law’s requirements. But proven solutions and resources are available to help institutions rise to the challenge. At a number of schools, these waters have already been charted, mapped, and skillfully navigated through partnerships with research-based organizations, and the implementation of solutions shown to help students succeed directly in transfer-level math courses.
Over the past decade, tens of thousands of students have succeeded in Carnegie Math Pathways Quantway and Statway courses, regardless of their original math placement level. We’ve served nearly 80,000 students, with 3 to 4 times as many of those students earning college math credits as those in traditional math sequences. We’ve helped institutions achieve these outcomes with a holistic approach. Our pedagogy centers student collaboration and provides social-emotional support to elevate students’ confidence and sense of belonging. We also build strong relationships with faculty, assist administrators with rethinking placement, and critically examine our student data.
And we’re not the only organization helping colleges transform their approaches to traditional math remediation. The California Acceleration Project (CAP), is a professional development network that exists specifically to support California’s community colleges with increasing completion and equity by transforming remediation. CAP has worked with all 115 California community colleges to implement reforms aimed at increasing student completion of transferable, college-level math and English requirements.
The Dana Center provides support to help educators successfully implement math pathways, with targeted efforts at the institution and state levels. Recently, Dana created a toolkit designed to help institutions successfully implement corequisite math courses. This comprehensive resource, supported by Strong Start to Finish, provides practical tools and profiles of institutions that have made this change. (Carnegie Math Pathways served as a contributor and on the national board of advisors for this toolkit.)
We owe it to our students to give them the best possible chance of success in college. It’s true that AB 705 has prompted the need for big change. But the evidence shows that this type of change is not just possible, it can lead to greater success for students. And while change isn’t necessarily easy, a wide array of supports from organizations like ours, CAP, the Dana Center, and others exist to help institutions with everything from placement, to advising, to instruction. Choosing to not meet the requirements of AB 705 is choosing to uphold the status quo, which has barred hundreds of thousands of students, especially Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students and those experiencing poverty, from completing their degree simply because well-intentioned, but ill-designed remediation courses hold them back. We owe it to our students to do what we so often ask of them in class—to dispassionately evaluate quantitative evidence and act on it.