Governor Gavin Newsom Signs Groundbreaking Equitable Placement Legislation AB 1705

September 30th, 2022

Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1705, authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-44), pivotal legislation which makes clear that community colleges must enroll students in math and English classes where they have the greatest likelihood of completing degree and transfer requirements; and that students have supports that help them make progress toward their goals. This critical legislation is joined by a $64 million investment in the 2022-23 state budget to help community colleges implement changes to placement and remediation, such as expanding tutoring, developing corequisite supports, and providing professional development to help faculty effectively teach a broader population of students in transfer-level classes. 

The Campaign has led a diverse coalition of students, higher education advocates, community and civil rights organizations, and college leaders in efforts to remove barriers to transfer-level courses since 2015.  We thank the Governor for, again, demonstrating his commitment to improving college opportunity, closing racial/ethnic equity gaps, and maintaining California as a student-centered economic powerhouse. AB 1705 strengthens the Campaign’s previously sponsored legislation AB 705 (Irwin), signed into law in 2017, to transform the placement experience for community college students by supporting them to directly enroll and complete transfer-level courses. 

Prior to AB 705, 80% of community college students were placed into ineffective and demoralizing remedial courses. In fact, decades of research has established that when students are placed into remedial English and math—courses which students have already taken in high school—they are less likely to earn a degree. AB 705 has made groundbreaking progress for students: 96% of students statewide start community college in transfer-level English and 78% do so in math. Completion rates have likewise increased substantially; for Black students, transfer-level English and math completion have tripled between 2015-2019. For Latinx students, transfer-level math completion has quadrupled and more than doubled in English within the same time period. 

“Despite equitable placement policy in effect since 2017, students continued to be placed into remedial courses, disproportionately affecting Black and Latinx students. That is why we are thankful to Governor Newsom, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, and coalition partners and student leaders who have made AB 1705 a reality,” said Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity. “Community college students will no longer be deprived of the opportunity to take the transfer-level courses they need to succeed, earn a degree, and contribute to a brighter future for our golden state.”

AB 1705 advances California through pandemic recovery by helping to meet Governor Newsom’s bold 70% college-attainment goal and vision for higher education laid out in the 2022-23 state budget. This legislation streamlines time-to-degree, thereby saving students and the state time and resources, by empowering students to directly enroll into the courses that maximize their success. Student-centered policies, such as equitable placement, can yield more than $60 billion in state returns, stronger and more resilient communities, and a diverse and vibrant middle class.

“At a time of significant drops in student enrollment at our community colleges, AB 1705 is what California needs to drive enrollment and degree attainment. Generations of students have been discouraged by duplicative remedial courses. By enacting AB 1705 into law, California is sending a message to students that we are a state that prioritizes making their college dreams a reality, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, or zip code,” concluded Jessie Ryan, executive vice president of the Campaign for College Opportunity.