Strong Start To Finish
Policy Report

A New Era of Student Access at California’s Community Colleges

November 1, 2020
Hans Johnson, Marisol Cuellar Mejia, Olga Rodriguez

Until recently, the vast majority of California’s community college students—hundreds of thousands of students each year—started in remedial courses that slowed down or halted their academic progress. Attrition was high, particularly for Latino and African American students. Few students went on to complete the gateway courses necessary to transfer to a four-year college (known as transfer-level courses). 

After years of important but piecemeal reforms, in 2017 a landmark law (AB 705) transformed placement and remediation at the state’s community colleges. Students are no longer asked to prove they are ready for gateway courses. Instead, colleges must prove if students are not ready. 

We examined how AB 705 transformed student access, outcomes, and racial equity in fall 2019, the deadline for implementation.