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New laws will affect community colleges across California in 2023

Posted at 10:55 AM, Dec 16, 2022

As the new year quickly approaches, new laws will take effect in the state of California.

Starting next year, community colleges throughout the state, including Cuesta College and Allan Hancock College, will implement new changes as AB 1232 and AB 1705 take effect.

AB 1705 follows a bill passed in 2017 that requires community colleges to enroll their students in transfer-level math and English courses as their first class.

“What the law is trying to correct is having students swirl around these lower-level classes and not make it through the upper-level classes," said Bob Curry, Allan Hancock College associate superintendent/vice president of academic affairs.

It’s a big change for community colleges across the state that, for decades, have offered pre-transfer level courses.

“The legislation is well-intentioned to try to remove that long on-ramp to transfer level courses. It’s just a challenge for community colleges to build enough support," said Jason Curtis, Cuesta College vice president of instruction, adding that the new bill can pose a challenge for some people.

“There’s not really a good place for an adult student to take an algebra class or reading and writing class to get up to transfer level language skills. I think it is going to be a little more challenging for STEM students who are not coming straight out of high school," explained Curtis.

The changes have been in place at Allan Hancock since 2018, but college officials say with COVID-19 still playing a large role, they are seeing students struggle.

“We’re hearing from a lot of students that their math classes in high school didn’t prepare them for college-level classes in the way it has in the past," added Curry.

Another law coming in 2023 will be AB 1232 which allows refugees and recent immigrants to enroll in English as a second language (ESL) courses at California community colleges for free or at a reduced rate.

“I think anything that increases access to students and education is going to be good, not just for our community but for the state," said Curry.

Both Allan Hancock and Cuesta offer English as a second language as a noncredit class making it free for students.