Still Getting There: How California’s AB 705 Is (and is not) Transforming Community College Remediation and What Needs to Come Next

By: CAP Central Staff
December 2020

How California’s AB 705 Is (and is not) Transforming Community College Remediation and What Needs to Come Next

New report shows huge promise of legislation overhauling English and math remediation but many students are left out, especially Black and Latinx students

Still Getting There, a report from the California Acceleration Project and Public Advocates, examines the second year of implementation of Assembly Bill 705, a 2017 law that overhauled remediation practices that were derailing community college students from their educational goals. 

The report highlights significant progress community colleges have made implementing AB 705 reforms, including doubling student completion of transferable, college-level English and math in the first year of full implementation. But it points to the need for further changes to ensure that uneven implementation does not continue to drive inequitable outcomes for Black and Latinx students.

Key Findings:

  • California made substantial initial progress in transforming placement and remediation in the first year of implementation (fall 2019). Student completion is approximately 30 percentage points higher at colleges that have replaced remedial courses with corequisite support in transfer-level English and math courses.
  • In the second year of implementation (fall 2020), progress has slowed and some colleges have even backtracked by increasing remedial offerings. Research has established that remedial courses reduce completion for every demographic group studied to date, but at 69 colleges, remedial classes still make up over 20% of introductory math sections offered. Out of California’s 116 community colleges, only three have achieved 100% implementation of AB 705 changes in both English and math.​​
  • There are significant racial inequities in implementation of the law. Black and Latinx students disproportionately attend colleges that have maintained large remedial math offerings. Colleges serving over 2,000 Black students are more than twice as likely to be weak implementers of AB 705 as other colleges. 

AB 705 requires colleges to use students’ high school grades for placement, places restrictions on requiring students to enroll in remedial courses, and steers colleges to replace remedial courses with corequiste models in which students receive additional support while enrolled in a transferable, college-level class. Under the law, colleges must place students into courses that “maximize the probability that a student will enter and complete transfer-level coursework in English and mathematics in a one-year time frame.”