Up to the Challenge

By: CAP Central Staff
April 2017

Community Colleges Expand Access to College-Level Courses

A new report from the California Acceleration Project features community colleges that have transformed their policies to enable the majority of students to bypass remediation and begin directly in college-level courses. Up the the Challenge: Community Colleges Expand Access to College-Level Courses features student stories and success data from Cuyamaca College, College of the Canyons, Las Positas College, Solano College, Skyline College, and Sacramento City College. 

The colleges featured in Up to the Challenge used high school grades to place students into English and math courses, instead of their prior practice of relying almost exclusively on standardized tests. They also replaced traditional remedial courses with corequisite models that enable students to begin directly in transferable college-level courses with 2 or 3 units of additional support. The result? Immediate and dramatic increases in student completion of college-level English and math, a critical early momentum point toward degrees and transfer. 

Up to the Challenge features seven students who have benefited from these changes:

  • Andres Salazar came to College of the Canyons with a high school GPA of 4.0 and an A in Algebra II, but the Accuplacer test assigned him to Arithmetic, which would have meant two years of remedial courses before he could take Statistics, the math required for his music major. But because the college recognized his high school grades, he was able to begin directly in Statistics, where he earned an A.
  • Alex Arguello had been a C and D student in high school and almost didn’t graduate with his class. But through Solano College’s corequisite model, he was able to skip two semesters of remedial English, enroll in a college-level course with 3 hours of extra support, and earn a B in the class.

“Community community colleges working with CAP and the Multiple Measures Assessment Project are dramatically increasing students’ access to college English and math while maintaining the same course expectations,” write CAP Co-Founders Katie Hern and Myra Snell in the preface to Up to the Challenge. “And students are proving they can handle meaningful college-level work.”