Report: Invalid Placement Practices Widespread in CA Community Colleges

By: CAP Central Staff
October 2021

Prior to the implementation of AB 705, statewide research showed that student completion was highest when students began in transferable, college-level English and math classes, regardless of their high school GPA. But in order to determine whether these statewide findings applied to colleges’ local populations, the state Chancellor’s Office gave colleges a two-year grace period to develop their own placement practices and study their local data. That two-year period is now up.

This report analyzes the 114 validation reports that colleges submitted to the Chancellor’s Office, evaluating their local placement practices to determine whether they could meet AB 705 standards while continuing to place students in remedial courses. Our analysis found:

* None of the state’s 114 colleges could reliably justify placing students into remedial math.

* At least half of colleges have placement practices that disproportionately harm Black and Latinx students.

* Colleges are ignoring high school grades and inappropriately using guided placement to steer students into remedial courses.

The report concludes: “Now that every California community college has had the opportunity to assess their local placement data, the next steps are clear: It is time to ensure that students begin in transfer-level English and math, where they have the greatest chance of making progress toward a degree.”