Data Tales: Cal-GETC

ASCCC Area C Representative, ASCCC Data and Research Committee Chair
ASCCC Past President, ASCCC Intersegmental Projects Director

Recent legislation—such as AB 927 (Medina, 2021), AB 928 (Berman, 2021), AB 1111 (Berman, 2021), and AB 1705 (Irwin, 2022)—aimed at improving student outcomes is affecting curricular offerings and significantly impacting the California community colleges. In particular, Assembly Bill 928 (Berman, 2021), the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act of 2021 now enacted as Education Code §66749.8, requires a singular lower division general education pathway for students transferring to the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems. Analysis and use of data has impacted the creation of the pathway, and data may be used to anticipate the changes resulting from its implementation.

Tale Background and Basics

The Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act leveraged the already existing Intersegmental Committee of the Academic Senates (ICAS) as well as establishing the new Associate Degree for Transfer Intersegmental Implementation Committee to implement the requirements of the law. ICAS was charged with developing a singular general education pathway that would meet the lower division academic requirements necessary for transfer admission to both the CSU and the UC. Furthermore, the new pathway was limited to no more units than the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum as it existed in July 2021. Agreement was reached after significant discussion, advocacy, vetting, and compromise among and within the three systems’ academic senates, with the pathway named the California General Education Transfer Curriculum (Cal-GETC) by the student representatives and supported by the student organizations in all three systems. Details of the Cal-GETC pathway are available in the Cal-GETC Standards 1.1 document (ICAS, 2023), and the processes for development in 2022 and 2023 are documented on the ICAS website (ICAS, n.d.).  As was required by AB 928, Cal-GETC shall be the only lower division general education pathway for determining transfer eligibility commencing with the fall term of the 2025-26 academic year. More information is available in Education Code §66749.8 (Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act, 2021), including additional requirements beyond the single Cal-GETC pathway, and in the Associate Degree for Transfer Intersegmental Implementation Committee 2023 Final Report and Recommendations (Sova, 2023).

Present Data Tales

Historically, students choosing to earn an associate degree for transfer had an option of two general education patterns: the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) or the CSU General Education Breadth (CSU GE Breadth) pattern. IGETC is a general education pattern that students followed to fulfill transfer requirements to a UC campus, whereas the CSU GE Breadth pattern is what students followed for transfer to a CSU campus. The CSU GE Breadth pattern includes many courses that do not fulfill IGETC requirements, and thus many of those courses may not fulfill the new Cal-GETC requirements.  

The main differences of Cal-GETC compared to IGETC or CSU GE Breadth are as follows:

  • Oral Communication Area is included but was not included in IGETC; adjustments to community college courses will be required;
  • Arts and Humanities Area is reduced from three courses to two courses;
  • Behavioral and Social Sciences Area is reduced from three courses to two courses;
  • Lifelong Learning and Self-Development Area, previously not in IGETC but included in CSU GE Breadth, is not included;
  • Ethnic Studies Area is included.

Due to these differences, course offerings will be impacted. Some questions for colleges to consider as implementation of Cal-GETC begins include the following:

  • What courses are approved for CSU GE Breadth but are not approved for IGETC? Most courses approved for IGETC may be approved for Cal-GETC, but no guarantee exists for any specific course.
  • What are the enrollments in those courses? This question is critical to anticipate the impact to students as well as the impact on curricular programs, including staffing changes.
  • Who is enrolling in those courses and from what majors? Colleges may need to disaggregate student populations for analysis.
  • How will the changes impact students? This question will require a deep data dive so that student outcomes are improved even if some course options are no longer available.
  • What are the numbers and proportions of students that choose IGETC versus CSU GE Breath? This data point will assist faculty and staff to develop other pathways where needed for those programs that may be heavily impacted.

A Tale of Two Colleges

During a discussion at the California Intersegmental Articulation Council Conference in 2023 concerning potential impacts from AB 928 to students and colleges and how one may anticipate coming shifts and changes, articulation officers were asked by the president of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges to provide basic information on enrollments in courses that are approved for CSU GE Breadth but not for IGETC. Roughly half a dozen colleges responded; two comparative examples are summarized below, one large urban college and one small rural college.

Sample enrollments for two terms of courses that meet CSU GE Breadth but not IGETC for the large urban college are reflected in Table 1. This college has 89 courses that meet CSU GE Breadth but not IGETC; this figure does not include the large number of offerings in fitness and physical education. Total enrollments in all courses that meet CSU GE Breadth but not IGETC are 9,294 for fall 2022 and 10,083 for spring 2023.

Table 1: Large Urban College—Courses that Meet CSU GE Breadth but Not IGETC
Course Fall 2022 Enrollment Spring 2023 Enrollment
All Fitness/PE 3756 5549
Studio Art 377 199
Freshman Seminar 1396 180
Introduction to Philosophy 467 455
Spanish I 228 332
College Success 561 602

Sample average semester enrollments of courses approved for CSU GE Breadth but not IGETC for the small rural college are shown in Table 2. In addition, this college offers fifteen courses with 4,012 enrollments in lifelong learning and self-development. Disciplines offering courses to fulfill this area include health, psychology, business, and sociology, with health having by far the largest enrollment in this category. None of these lifelong learning and self-development courses are required for degree or major pathways. 

Table 2: Small Rural College—Courses that Meet CSU GE Breadth but Not IGETC
Course Average Sections Average Semester Enrollments
Child, Family, and Community 6 147
Criminology 2 67
History - African American 1 34

Cal-GETC most likely will significantly impact enrollments in certain disciplines and areas. This impact may mean reduced enrollments in departments or divisions that currently have large numbers of course sections, yet it might only be a few course sections scattered across several departments or divisions. While these data sets are not enough to conclude the final impact, they do support the need for colleges to collect and begin analysis on changes to course offerings due to changes in general education requirements.

A Tale of Two Courses

Oral communication was part of the CSU GE Breadth requirements, but was not a requirement of IGETC. After much discussion and debate, oral communication was included in Cal-GETC. The proposed Cal-GETC at the time was vetted by the three systems through their respective academic senates. The Assembly of the UC Academic Senate approved UC Senate Regulation 479 at its December 8, 2022 meeting and adopted Cal-GETC with an unexpected addition of an English composition prerequisite for oral communication. While oral communication faculty appreciated that the UC Academic Senate recognized and agreed with the value that oral communication provided for students, they were also concerned that an unnecessary barrier for students might now be in place.

California community college communication studies faculty took notice and collaborated with institutional research professionals at their colleges to examine data on public speaking—or oral communication—course success for students that took English composition before taking public speaking and those that did not in an effort to determine whether a prerequisite was warranted. Five colleges provided similar data over a five-year time frame and discovered a 5 to 22 percentage point increase in student success in public speaking when students took English composition before public speaking as well as a 5 to 17 percentage point increase in success rate for English composition when students took public speaking before English composition. No matter which order students took public speaking and English composition, the data showed comparable improvement in success rate for the second course. This simple data analysis was enough evidence for the UC to remove the English composition prerequisite for oral communication courses.

Future Data Tales

The examples above demonstrate how data may be used to facilitate conversations regarding the impacts of Cal-GETC. Faculty should collaborate with local institutional research professionals and leverage data to anticipate possible impacts, with enrollments being just one example. Exploring data regarding the effects of changes will provide insight into which courses will meet Cal-GETC requirements, possible shifts in enrollments and associated workload balancing and planning for departments and divisions, and planning outreach needed to students. Colleges should examine as much data as possible and not draw any conclusions until analyses has taken place. In addition, colleges must also be cognizant of the many variables that can contribute to student outcomes.


Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates. (2023). Cal-GETC Standards Version 1.1.

Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates. (n.d.). Memos and Letters.

Sova. (2023, December). AB928 Associate Degree for Transfer Intersegmental Implementation Committee 2023 Final Report and Recommendations. California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act of 2021. CA. Education Code §66749.8 (2021).