SBCC to eliminate remedial math and English courses in Fall 2019

Elizabeth Saubestre, Staff Writer

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City College faculty members are currently implementing a recently passed state bill into college policy that might cause the English skills department to eliminate most of its classes.

Assembly Bill 705 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2017. It requires community colleges to maximize the probability students will complete transfer-level coursework in English and math within their first year of enrolling in an English or math class. Examples of a transfer-level class would be English 110 or math 117.

The bill also states colleges can use multiple measures to determine whether students are eligible for transfer level courses instead of just using placement tests, including high school coursework, grades and GPA.

Many people advocated for the bill to be passed to rectify equity issues in education. Background information in the bill says students of color are more likely to be placed in remedial courses. Because students placed in remediation are less likely to complete their educational goals, AB 705 was passed to discourage placing students in these remedial courses if they don’t need them.

Jamie Campbell, associate professor of mathematics, shared his insight into the effects of the bill on the math department.

“A lot of colleges aren’t as well prepared as Santa Barbara City College,” Campbell said.

This refers to the fact that many colleges have not utilized multiple measures before, whereas City College has a certain level of familiarity with them.

The math department will also be offering co-requisite courses to provide support for students taking the harder courses, which will be required for some students but optional for all students if they would like the help. Currently, the math department is offering a two unit class called “Support for Intermediate Algebra,” which assists those enrolled in Math 107.

The bill could also have negative impacts on City College, with the English skills department taking the hardest hit.

The English skills department is responsible for all the English classes under English 110. These classes will have much less demand after AB 705 is implemented, making the department obsolete.

Anita Cruse of the English skills department declined to comment on the bill’s impact.

Barbara Bell, chair of the English department, said there will still be at least one course offered in English skills. The English skills classes will still be offered Spring 2019.

Bell added there will likely be at least two co-requisite courses students could take to assist them with their English courses, but the department had not finalized that number yet.

The English department also wants to have smaller class sizes for more individual support, but since it is already understaffed and having a hard time getting new faculty members, there is concern there will not be enough faculty to teach the classes. This also comes at a time where teachers are being restricted from teaching more classes.

“We don’t want the law hurting students,” Bell said, “[we] just want students to know they have options.”

Students have also expressed concern about the changes the bill will bring about, and there has been a lot of confusion about what will happen and when these changes will take place.

Bell stated it will be more straightforward to get students into English classes than math. While the math and English department will be affected in generally the same way, the placement of students will differ.

Still, Bell said the state has not been very clear about what the college should do. In response to this, the assessment office is attempting to clarify what the state wants and sending out an email and setting up a table to provide support for students.

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