New law means new hope for students in remedial classes

By Lisa Martin


The days when City College students slowly worked their way through remedial math and English classes will soon be ending with California Assembly Bill 705, which requires all California community colleges to maximize the number of students entering and completing college-level, transferable math and English classes within one year.

Students can no longer be denied access to these higher level classes unless it is proven that they are very unlikely to succeed in them.

The only problem some students have with AB 705 is that it’s not being implemented fast enough.

An organization made up of current students and alumni, Students Making a Change (SMAC), has put pressure on the chancellor’s office to implement the law as early as Fall 2018.

The current implementation plan laid out by the California Community Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) involves a gradual shift towards weighing high school records over assessment test scores when placing students in classes. Full compliance with AB 705 isn’t planned until Fall 2019.

“The longer we wait, the more students are…not going to have the opportunity to be placed directly. They’re going to be stuck in that remedial sequence. It’s not fair,” said Denise Castro, a member of SMAC.

At the April 26 board of trustees meeting, four SMAC members addressed the board with their concerns and submitted a petition with more than 300 signatures in support of AB 705.

“I graduated [City College] in 2013. I was actually here for 7 years, not because I was playing with my education, but because I was here taking that long English and Math sequence,” Elitininanesi “Toody” Mafua’ofa said.

Remedial classes are a barrier to many students because of the additional time it takes to get an associates degree or transfer out—time that might discourage students from graduating.

The value of remedial classes is also questionable. Studies show that for each level of remediation a student must complete, they are less likely to complete college-level courses and transfer out of the program.

City College spokesperson Jeff Hamilton said the chancellor and board of trustees are supportive of AB 705.

SMAC sent a letter with a list of recommendations to the chancellor and college administration. In addition to pushing for full compliance in Fall 2018, SMAC wants school administration to email all students and inform them of their rights under the new bill.

In the meantime, SMAC is doing what they can to educate students directly by making classroom presentations, talking to students at events, and publishing content on their website at


Instructor Stephanie Levin teaching an ESL class in Cloud Hall on May 7, 2018. Photo by Janeth R. Sanchez/The Guardsman.
Instructor Stephanie Levin teaching an ESL class in Cloud Hall on May 7, 2018. Photo by Janeth R. Sanchez/The Guardsman.


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