A seamless pathway from high school to college

A seamless pathway from high school to college

(Calif.) More avenues to college and career fields would be open to a broader array of high school students under legislation that has moved to the state Senate for consideration.

AB 288 would provide greater flexibility for K-12 and community college districts to establish or expand dual enrollment programs that allow high school students, while working toward graduation, to simultaneously take part in college-level career technical education courses or classes that count for credit toward a degree.

“We have right now existing concurrent enrollment but it’s limited and it doesn’t create partnership agreements that will allow for exploring more options, such as having courses made available that can be taught on a high school campus versus just being offered on a college campus, and the opportunity for college instructors to collaborate with high school teachers on addressing the needs of those students who need remedial support,” said the bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Chris Holden of Pasadena.

“This will also give us a chance to grow vocational course opportunities which will hopefully give the kind of access to training and skill development that will prepare young people for a job after high school graduation or to maybe take a vocational focus when they get to college,” he said.

Research on the benefits of concurrent enrollment programs has shown that they increase both high school graduation and college-attendance rates, particularly for minority and low-income students.

Although dual or concurrent enrollment is allowed under existing law, AB 288 authorizes the creation of College and Career Access Pathways – partnerships between community colleges and K-12 districts within the same service area.

The goal, according to the author’s office, is the development of “seamless” pathways from high school to community college for career technical education or transfer to a four-year university.

Unlike existing dual enrollment options, this bill would authorize community colleges to offer courses that are closed to the general public if offered on a high school campus, to grant these so-called “special admit” students higher enrollment priority than currently possible, and to exceed the current 11-unit, per-semester cap if the student is working toward both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.

In addition, according to legislative staff, this measure “creates an unprecedented policy shift” by authorizing community college faculty to teach remedial courses at high schools to pupils deemed not proficient in math or English, based on 10th- or 11th-grade standardized tests.

AB 288 also prohibits the assessment of course fees on high school students participating in a College and Career Access Pathways program, and removes physical education classes as a college-level course option.

Holden hopes that new pathway programs created under his legislation would be modeled after a similar, successful partnership between Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach Community College and Long Beach State University.

That program, authorized by SB 650 in 2011 as the College Promise Partnership Act, was intended to provide a “seamless bridge to college for students who were not already college-bound and reduce the time needed for advanced students to complete programs,” according to a legislative analysis of AB 288.

In Long Beach, students are exempt from state requirements that they must be recommended for the program by the school principal. The community college is also eligible to receive state funding for these students but only if the K-12 district is not already receiving an apportionment for the same instructional activity.

“With the Long Beach College Promise program they’ve experienced a 500 percent increase in the amount of students coming from Long Beach Unified going to Long Beach City College who are college ready in English, and a 200 percent increase in the amount of students who are college ready for math, so you can see this program works,” said Holden.

AB 288 gives the community college and K-12 districts that team up broad authority to establish their pathway program in a way that best suits their local needs, including outlining the terms of their partnership as relates to:

  • The scope, nature, and schedule of courses offered;
  • The criteria used to assess the ability of pupils who will benefit from those courses;
  • Establishing protocols for information sharing, joint facilities use, and parental consent for pupils;
  • And, naming a point of contact for the participating school and community college districts.

The written agreement must be discussed and adopted over the course of at least two public meetings and then be filed with the Office of the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges and the California Department of Education prior to the start of the partnership.

School districts will be required to submit annual reports that include an evaluation of their CCAP partnership and recommendations for program improvement. The report must also include the total number of students enrolled at each school site by gender and ethnicity, total number of community college courses and course completions, as well as percentage of course completions by category, type, and school site, and the total number of full-time equivalent students participating.