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Newsom signs bill to ban most remedial classes at community colleges

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed Assembly Bill 1705, setting into motion changes that will severely restrict the ability of community colleges to offer remedial math and English courses.

The legislation creates new rules that mostly prevent colleges from offering those courses, which can’t be used toward transfer to four-year universities. 

The bill was among a package of higher education bills that Newsom signed Friday. He also signed AB 1187, which will expand tutoring at community colleges. “Reforming remedial education and expanding access to tutoring will help millions of Californians complete their education faster,” Daisy Gonzales, interim chancellor of the community college system, said in a statement.

AB 1705 builds off a 2017 law, Assembly Bill 705, that said colleges can’t place students in remedial classes unless they are deemed highly unlikely to succeed in transfer-level coursework. That bill was brought forward amid research showing that students who took remedial math and English classes often got stuck in those classes and were less likely to finish their degrees.

The latest bill goes further by limiting colleges to enrolling only certain populations of students in remedial classes, such as English learners and students in some career and technical education programs. It also leaves room for colleges to enroll other students in remedial classes if the colleges can prove, based on a student’s high school grades, that the student is more likely to earn a degree or certificate by starting in the pre-transfer classes.

The number of remedial classes being offered across the community college system has already dwindled dramatically since AB 705 was signed, but dozens of colleges still offer at least some remedial courses. Officials with the statewide Chancellor’s Office expect that with the latest legislation, almost none of those courses will be offered by fall 2023.