Championing Student Success and Access Over the Last 25+ Years

ASCCC President

Faculty in the California Community Colleges (CCC) system should be recognized and commended for their dedication and efforts to meet the needs of 100% of the students. While few, if any, in the California community colleges claim to have succeeded in doing so, and most if not all would agree that much room remains for improvement, faculty in shared responsibility with classified professionals, administrators, and most importantly, students, have engaged in ongoing cycles of new initiative implementation, all aimed at serving every student with emphases on underrepresented and disproportionately impacted groups and specifically racial and ethnic groups.

Statewide initiatives and mandates have moved from requiring colleges to assess all entering students’ skills for appropriate course placement to requiring colleges to ensure that all students, with a few exceptions, enroll in transfer-level coursework. Furthermore, faculty continue to respond with a student-centered lens to legislation focused on transfer, performance-based funding, common course numbering, general education, and more. Through the sea change of mandates surrounding assessment, placement, and most recently, enrollment, legislation intended to streamline curricular offerings such as guided pathways, AB 928 (Berman, 2021) requiring a “singular lower division general education pathway” to determine eligibility for transfer to both the California State University and the University of California, and AB 1111 (Berman, 2021)—better known as common course numbering—faculty continue to focus on the needs of each and every student they serve.

The CCC system, with financial support from the California Legislature and Governor, has long invested in efforts to increase student access and success, with an intentional focus on under-represented racial and ethnic groups. The system has transitioned from supporting student development and readiness for transfer-level coursework to direct placement into transfer-level coursework with an option for concurrent support. Additionally, ambitious goals set by the Board of Governors, informed by the Chancellor’s Office, have been included in plans from the Partnership for Excellence [1]  in 1998 (AB 1564) focused on improving student performance to the Vision for Success [2] in 2017 focused on reducing time and units to certificate and degree attainment. 

While some critics may believe that faculty have only recently exhibited an interest in ensuring success for all students, and moreover are not student-centered, the last 25 years show quite the opposite. 

A Brief Overview of 25 Years of Initiatives

1998 Partnership for Excellence
$100M each year for 7 years
Budget crisis reduced funding in 2002-2004
2002 ACCJC Accreditation Standards
Create, Assess, and Report Student Learning Outcomes for all courses and programs
2004 SB 1415 (Brulte): Postsecondary Education: Donahoe Higher Education Act: Common course numbering system
SB 450 (Solis, 1995) and SB 851 (1983) were two earlier common course numbering bills
2006 Basic Skills Initiative
Funding stopped in 2015
2010 SB 1440 (Padilla): Transfer; Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT)
2011 AB 743 (Block): Common Assessment
2012 SB 1456 (Lowenthal): Seymour-Campbell Student Success Act of 2012
Education Plans and Success Metrics – Based on 22 recommendations from the Student Success Task Force
2013 SB 440 (Padilla): Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act
ADT if a Local Associate Degree
2016 Strong Workforce Program
2017 AB 705 (Irwin): Seymour-Campbell Student Success Act of 2012: Matriculation: assessment
Vision for Success System Goals
Guided Pathways
Open Educational Resources Initiative
2018 Budget Act: Student Centered Funding Formula (SCFF)
2019 Budget Act: Cradle-to-Career Data System
2021 AB 928 (Berman): Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act of 2021
AB 1111 (Berman): Common Course Numbering
AB 927 (Medina): Baccalaureate Degrees
Ethnic Studies Title 5 Regulations
2022 AB 1705 (Irwin): Seymour-Campbell Student Success Act of 2012
All students (with limited exceptions) in transfer-level English and math

As the Partnership for Excellence was sunsetting, the Chancellor’s Office began a strategic planning process for the purpose of improving student access and success. This planning process was inclusive and transparent, providing opportunity for input from colleges statewide and the system’s representative groups. The strategic plan was approved by the Board of Governors on January 17, 2006. In 2006-07, the California state budget included categorical funds allocated for basic skills education and support, known as the Basic Skills Initiative. During this time, the Chancellor’s Office commissioned the Research and Planning (RP) Group to conduct a study on effective practices in basic skills. The study culminated in the release of Basic Skills as a Foundation for Student Success in California Community Colleges [3],  a report commonly referred to as the “Poppy Copy” due to the color of the cover of the publication. The Poppy Copy was a collaboration among the Chancellor’s Office, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, and the RP Group, with guidance from representatives of chief instructional and student services officers as well as other faculty and administrators looking to improve the educational programs and services for students in the CCC system.

In the Poppy Copy, many effective practices based on data were identified. Some are still used today with a modification for compliance with current legislation, such as “D.4: Culturally Responsive Teaching theory and practices are applied to all aspects of the developmental instructional programs and services.” However, one particular effective practice that included a recruiting and hiring criterion that faculty have knowledge and enthusiasm for developmental education may explain why faculty were so surprised at the mandates that were passed beginning in 2017: “A.6: Faculty who are both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about developmental education are recruited and hired to teach in the program.” Furthermore, a wise statement in the “Final Thoughts” on page 144 of the Poppy Copy is something that should resonate with all educators, especially those focused on culturally responsive teaching and intentionality in closing equity gaps: “Given that we certainly wouldn’t suggest a single approach will work for our diverse student populations, we would expect that a mix of programs would have both the benefit of matching student needs and potentially blending more cost-effective alternate approaches with more expensive approaches.”

After the Basic Skills Initiative, more interest arose from outside groups to streamline and ease transfer from the California community colleges to the CSU and UC. Although SB 1440 (Padilla) passed in 2010 as the associate degree for transfer bill, ASCCC representatives were working in the background designing structures and processes to make smooth transfer a reality; they recognized issues with transfer and set out to ensure transfer opportunities were in place for students from every background. The Course Identification Numbering System [4] (C-ID), constructed by the ASCCC, was born in 2007 following the passage of SB 1415 (Brulte, 2004), a bill on common course numbering. SB 1415 was the third bill since 1983 to require common course numbering; the first two iterations were found to be cost-prohibitive. C-ID is a supranumbering system created to ease transfer and articulation in California’s higher education institutions. C-ID, now the framework for the associate degrees for transfer (ADTs), facilitates the creation and updates for C-ID courses and transfer model curricula, components and templates of the ADTs. The most recent bill on common course numbering, AB 1111 (Berman, 2021), requires only the CCC system to implement student-facing common course numbers for all general education and transfer pathway courses that transfer to CSU and UC by July 1, 2024.

The drive to improve student outcomes has persisted. SB 1456 (Lowenthal), the Seymour-Campbell Student Success Act of 2012, was based on 22 recommendations from the 2011 Board of Governors Student Success Task Force (SSTF) [5] that were adopted by the Board of Governors on January 9, 2012. The SSTF members consisted of stakeholders from many constituencies, including faculty. In the introduction to the SSTF recommendations, a vision is stated and summarized on page 3: “This is the vision that the recommendations of this Task Force are designed to support. Taken alone, no single recommendation will get us there, but taken together, these policies could make the vision a reality for every student, at every college.” The goals of the SSTF were aimed at 100% of the students and included recommendations focused on traditionally under-represented students to attain educational equity.

Among the SSTF recommendations were a state-wide common assessment test and requirements for all incoming college students to receive an orientation, have a diagnostic assessment, and develop an education plan. Faculty worked hard to implement these requirements. The Common Assessment Initiative (CAI), [6] stemming from AB 743 (Block, 2011), began with $8 million in December of 2013 to create a state-wide common assessment based on multiple measures that considered student high school work and current skills. Another $24 million would be allocated over the next four years. However, after the governor signed AB 705 (Irwin, 2017) on October 13, 2017, then-Chancellor Eloy Oakley disseminated a Common Assessment Initiative Reset Memo [7] on October 24, 2017, suspending the development of the common assessment test. Many faculty across the state of California were deeply involved and believed in this effort. The CAI was terminated and buried along with four years of detailed and intensive work by faculty and other stakeholders.

In addition to the swift changes in assessment protocols came guided pathways, the Vision for Success, and the Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI). The OERI [8] is an ASCCC-backed project that the legislature funded with $6 million over five years to expand the availability and adoption of high-quality open educational resources. This initiative was exciting for the ASCCC as it was a way to equitize textbook availability for students in the CCC system.

In 2021, the legislature passed AB 928 (Berman), Associate Degrees for Transfer, and AB 1111 (Berman), Common Course Numbering, which were signed by the governor October 6, 2021. Both bills were aimed at streamlining student transfer and providing more students with access to transfer opportunities. Early implementation issues are appearing, especially with the requirement to limit the pathway that will determine transfer eligibility to both CSU and UC to no more than 34 required units. Some existing areas in the current CSU General Education Breadth requirements must be reduced or not included in the new pathway. Community college faculty leaders are working with CSU and UC faculty leaders to explore options to maintain valuable learning opportunities for all students.

Faculty and other system stakeholders achieved major victories with the passage of AB 927 (Medina), Baccalaureate Degrees, and the Title 5 Regulations on ethnic studies curriculum. Faculty saw the value in these programs and curriculum to students along with the data that supported student success and worked to get them codified.

The last big bill, AB 1705 (Irwin, 2022), was intended to strengthen AB 705 (Irwin, 2017) but has major implications beyond the elimination of basic skills programs. Most all students, with few exceptions, are to be placed and enrolled in transfer-level English and mathematics courses, and colleges cannot recommend that students take pretransfer courses. In addition, placement and enrollment in courses for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), noncredit, and CTE programs have new limitations. Colleges historically have not enrolled students; students enroll students and make their own choices. Therefore, colleges will need to devise plans for limiting enrollment in pretransfer-level courses if colleges choose to maintain access for some populations. The ASCCC continues to work collaboratively with system partners to provide recommendations to the Chancellor’s Office on implementation and evaluation on AB 1705 and all other legislation and initiatives regarding academic and professional matters. As colleges implement AB 1705, they must proceed with integrity and with a student-centered approach. Comprehensive data collection is necessary, including collection of qualitative and quantitative information that examines the impacts on all students and not just those who are experiencing their first time in college, fully disaggregating data that considers retention, persistence, and success along with the Chancellor’s Office definition of throughput, collecting student data before and after census dates, and, finally, looking at the opportunities and challenges for students that can only attend part time.

This brief review of the system’s history demonstrates that for more than two decades faculty have been fully invested in a multi-pronged approach to ensure access and success for every student with an intentional focus on disproportionately impacted groups. Consistent with this faculty commitment, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges does not oppose any specific approach to improving access and success, including direct placement in transfer-level course work. The ASCCC supports access to all coursework, including just-in-time support and scaffolded approaches.

As the table included earlier shows, numerous initiatives and requirements have been passed in bills, trailer bills, and other initiatives, all intended to improve student outcomes. While faculty may have questioned the wisdom behind some of the new requirements, they have always remained student-centered in their concerns when it comes to academic and professional matters. Faculty, with the ASCCC as their representative voice, are compelled and driven to ensure implementation strategies and protocols are student-centered and structured to meet the needs of 100% of the students.

1. For further information on Partnership for Excellence, see the following: Partnership for Excellence (, PFE 1998-1999 Budget (, CCCCO Report on PFE 2004 (, LAO Report 2007 (
2. The Vision for Success can be found at
3. Basic Skills as a Foundation for Student Success in California Community Colleges is available at
4. Information on C-ID is available at . For further information, see the C-ID/TMC/ADT Handbook at
5. The Student Success Taskforce recommendations can be found in the attachment at the bottom of the page here:
6. Information on the Common Assessment Initiative is available at The Common Assessment Initiative page on the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office website no longer contains information on the Common Assessment Initiative.
7. ASCCC Resolution F17 07.07 referencing the memo can be found at
8. Information on ASCCC OERI is available at