BY ALEXANDRIA ROSALES
Photo courtesy of The Chaparral. Guidance counselor Dr. Basil Augustine with student Josue Figueroa looking over courses that will be available winter and spring 2019.
For years, the requirement for community college students was to take an assessment test such as the Accuplacer, a computerized placement exam that is used to measure students’ general skills in math, reading and writing. Counselors would then use the results of this test and other information like transcripts from other schools to guide students to enroll in courses that are “right” for their academic level.
With the effect of Assembly Bills 705 and 1805, California community colleges are no longer required by law to have an assessment test to determine whether a student is ready to enroll in transfer-level courses.
AB 705 that took effect after Jan. 1, 2018 still requires community colleges to maximize the probability that a student will enter and complete transfer-level coursework in math and English within one year, however it now only requires colleges in their placement to use one or more of the following: high school coursework, high school grades and high school GPA.
Dean of Counseling, Amanda Phillips confirmed, “there’s nothing to hold [students] back from accessing transfer-level work because the other thing the chancellor’s office did was they reviewed some historical data between the years of 2008 and 2012 which in the state of California, four years of data for community college students (millions of students). They reviewed that data and they saw that the only way to really maximize the likelihood that a student will complete transfer-level work in a year, is if they start in transfer-level work, regardless of what their high school GPA is. That’s the most likely opportunity for them to finish.”
The implementation from AB 705 gives students the complete freedom to determine whether they are ready for transfer-level work, or better off choosing a course they feel they can handle. With the many more decisions that students are now able to make on their own with choosing their courses, it is recommended that they meet with a guidance counselor to fine-tune, their academic abilities by presenting their academic transcripts from other schools as well as having a conversation with a counselor to find out more information on courses.
With the graces of AB 705, giving students the right to enroll in transfer-level courses, it seemed that the law wasn’t completely clear whether it would apply to continuing students. “When 705 was being implemented we weren’t clear. Do we have a legal right to apply the standards of 705 to continuing students? So, this is not equal if incoming students are treated one way and continuing students are treated another way with regard to prerequisites. They clarified that in AB 1805,” said Phillips.
AB 1805 requires that this law is applied to both incoming and continuing students and that they are informed about the legislation during the enrollment process. Students going into the 2019 fall semester will be informed beginning winter and spring term in multiple places about their right to access transfer-level courses for any given measure.
“Basically, any student at College of the Desert even if say this semester, you had enrolled or you never enrolled in math. And when you took the assessment test, it told you to take a pre-college level math that you’ve spoken with your counselor and you know that college algebra is the right class for you. You can enroll in it next semester. It would just happen automatically. There’s no additional intervention that you need to do in the system,” said Phillips.
Dean Phillips mentioned that the faculty has been working on producing “Guidance Self-Placement Rubrics” which would be another asset for students to be guided well on their way to achieving their degree, but they have not yet been approved.
Guidance counselors are available on the second floor of the Cravens Center as well as at the Eastern Valley Center in Indio and the Mecca/Thermal campus. In the Cravens Center, students are able to see a counselor on a drop-in basis. Their business hours include Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon
“I think that our students have done enough high-stakes testing by the time they get to college. I think that it is more respectful of our students as adults to allow them to choose.” What we are working on now is providing conference of information to the students so that they can make that choice,” said Dean Phillips.