Reflections on SB 1440 Implementation Progress
February 21, 2013 | Written by: Erik Skinner, Deputy Chancellor, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office
The California Community Colleges (CCC) have historically provided students with a vital transfer gateway to baccalaureate granting institutions. Our colleges provide a convenient, low cost, high quality starting point for a higher education. In 2010-11 more than 112,000 students successfully transferred from a California community college to baccalaureate granting colleges and universities. By far, the most common destination was a California State University (CSU) campus, representing almost 57,000 of these transfers. After transferring, these students perform as well as, or better than, students who began their education at CSU.
While one could look at these statistics and declare success, it is a testament to California’s aspirational culture that leaders in the State Capitol, CSU, and CCC said “we can do better.” Educators, policymakers, students, and parents knew that the transfer process was more complicated and difficult than it should be. As a result, untold thousands of students became lost along the transfer pathway. Many thousands more successfully transferred, but only after taking more classes than necessary at both the lower and upper division levels, wasting their time, money, and occupying a valuable seats in courses badly needed by students on waiting lists.
It was to address these problems that the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act (SB 1440, Padilla) was enacted in fall of 2010. The legislation presented a bold new blueprint for transfer in California public higher education.
The framework in Senate Bill 1440 was straightforward:
- California community colleges will offer associate degrees for transfer comprised of no more than 60 semester units
- CSU campuses will accept students transferring with these degrees and allow them to complete their upper division coursework in no more than 60 semester units
- Students earning associate degrees for transfer are guaranteed admission to the CSU system and are given priority consideration when applying to a similar program
- Degree earners transfer to CSU with junior standing and cannot be required to repeat courses taken at the community college
- These new degrees established a more streamlined, statewide pathway that students could follow from any California community college to any CSU
Now, two years after SB 1440 became law, the blueprint has been put into action. Using the bill’s framework, CCC and CSU have worked to make associate degrees for transfer a reality that students across the state are now pursuing, receiving, and using to transfer to CSU.
Key implementation highlights include:
- Faculty leaders at CCC and CSU have designed transfer pathways in 22 of the most popular transfer disciplines, with more on the way
- Each of the 112 California community colleges now offers at least two associate degrees for transfer; 52 have 5 or more degrees; and 11 have more than 10 degrees
- Across the CCC system, 557 associate degrees for transfer are currently available with 201 more under development
- Last fall, CSU welcomed the first 120 students admitted with the new transfer degree; thousands more students are now in the pipeline and the numbers will only grow
- Counselors at California high schools and community colleges are providing students with information and guidance on the new degrees
- Adegreewithaguarantee.com provides prospective students with comprehensive information about associate degrees for transfer
- Radio and Internet advertisements are raising public awareness about the new degrees
The progress to date is remarkable given the challenges of reengineering two systems the size of CCC and CSU. These great strides have been made possible by the faculty, counselors, students, and administrators from the two systems who have worked tirelessly to make the vision of SB 1440 a reality.
As we look ahead, we have our sights fixed firmly on the goal of complete and robust implementation of this historic transfer reform. To this end, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors has set a goal for each of the 112 community colleges to offer associate degrees for transfer in 80 percent of all locally available transfer majors by fall of 2013, and in 100 percent of locally available transfer majors by fall of 2014.
While there is still work ahead, we are well on our way to making the SB 1440 transfer pathway the primary route to transfer.
California’s students will be the greatest beneficiaries as the transfer process becomes easier to navigate and new efficiencies result in increased access to needed courses.