CCA able to make significant changes to bill
The Student Success Act of 2012, which would significantly restructure student services in California’s community colleges was approved by the Legislature on Aug. 30 and expected to be signed by the governor, but not without changes to the law submitted by CCA.
“We maintained all along that students who want to upgrade their skills, obtain certificates to advance their careers, go part-time, learn English and take personal development classes would be penalized by this bill,” said CCA President Ron Norton Reel. “Although the bill was passed by the Legislature, we were able to neutralize some of the more harmful aspects of the legislation.”
The legislation by retiring Sen. Alan Lowenthal, (D-Long Beach), and co-authored by Sen. Carol Liu, (D-La Canada Flintridge), received the support of Community Colleges Chancellor Jack and was passed on a bipartisan vote.
CCA mustered opposition
CCA mustered opposition to the bill for months in the state Capitol and on local campuses. Faculty at Gavilan College, for example, even produced a YouTube video to highlight their opposition to the bill and promote what they consider to be real student success.
Community college faculty have had an ongoing concern that the “Student Success” recommendations would reduce the number of students in community colleges for reasons other than to transfer to four-year colleges. They were further concerned that the bill was not accompanied by the funding needed to produce student success nor did it contain a definition of student success.
By late August, however, enough revisions had been made in committee, that CCA was able to remove its “oppose position” to the legislation.
Among the changes to the bill that CCA was able to make included removing the requirement of a maximum unit cap; broadening categorical funding eligibility to include disadvantaged and disabled students; identifying minimum uniform academic and progress standards so they don’t unfairly disadvantage financially needy students; adding student protections and notifications of BOG fee waiver conditions; requiring notification of the availability of student support services.
CCA still remains concerned over the lack of a strategy for measuring the success of all students, including those who may not be transferring to a CSU or UC campus. Students that are still likely to be penalized by not meeting the definition of success might include peace officers, firefighters and nurses who need to take one or two continuing education courses, or students who lack the necessary language, computer and math skills necessary for success.
“We didn’t get all of our concerns addressed, but we feel the authors listened to our concerns and responded with some important changes. We will continue to monitor the legislation and continue to provide input as it is implemented,” Reel said.
The Student Success Act is expected to:
- Restructure the way student support services are delivered to improve the assistance that students receive at the beginning of their educational experience. The bill refocuses existing student services resources to support orientation, assessment and education planning services and lays the groundwork to expand these services as more resources become available.
- Provide that campuses using an assessment instrument for student placement utilize a statewide system of common assessment once available, to improve consistency and efficiency within the 112 campus system.
- Require colleges receiving student support service funds to post a student success scorecard to clearly communicate progress in improving completion rates for all students and closing the achievement gap among historically underrepresented students.
- Require students whose fees are waived because of their economic need to meet minimum academic standards.