Statement on the California Budget: Investments in Equitable Placement and Completion at Community Colleges Will Benefit Students

Sacramento, CA – As a diverse coalition of higher education advocacy, civil rights, social justice, workforce, and student leadership organizations committed to educational equity and student success, we applaud Governor Newsom and the Legislature’s commitment to investing in equitable placement and completion at California community colleges that will support over 1.8 million students attending one of our state’s 116 community colleges.

In particular, we are grateful for the $64 million investment in the 2022-23 California state budget that will directly support the implementation of equitable placement and assessment policy (AB 705, 2017). In addition, we applaud the approximately $3.9 million ongoing (2022-23) and $1.4 million ongoing (2024-25) for increased staff capacity within the Community College Chancellor’s Office to support the needed oversight and implementation of key efforts to improve student success and close racial equity gaps.

Redesigning course offerings and embracing new, innovative instructional models is critical work for faculty and administrators and requires appropriate investment and support from the state. This substantial investment is key to supporting faculty and campus leaders in implementing AB 705 and ensuring that faculty and students have the tools necessary to succeed. This investment will support colleges, faculty, counselors, and administrators to implement best practices in course design and effective concurrent student support models, bringing us one step closer to full implementation of AB 705 by fall 2022.

Prioritizing direct financial resources for equitable placement and completion policy, while developing a plan for moving away from standalone remedial courses, will ensure that student completion gains continue to improve, racial/ethnic equity gaps close, and that college success is a reality for all students across our state.

Read the full statement here.

Governor Newsom and Legislative Leaders Deliver Significant Investments via Multi-year Commitments to Higher Education, Final Budget Leaves Significant Investment in Financial Aid Reform Unfinished

On Monday, June 27th, Governor Newsom and California’s legislative leaders announced a final 2022-23 budget agreement with critical investments to expand student access and completion in California higher education.

The historic agreement cements the state’s multi-year funding commitments with the University of California (UC), California State University (CSU), and California Community Colleges (CCC) in exchange for establishing key targets for the systems in pursuit of the Governor’s ambitious 70% college-attainment goal. In return for adding tens of thousands more seats at the UC and CSU, strengthening transfer, improving timely graduation rates, closing racial equity gaps, and establishing regular reporting on their progress toward meeting these goals, the three systems will benefit from five years of predictable growth in state funding.

“We applaud Governor Newsom and the Legislature for their support of these extraordinary investments in our state’s colleges and universities,” said Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity. “This budget represents a big win for California students. The multi-year funding agreements ensure funding stability, promote college and university collaboration, and make real progress towards serving more students, improving the transfer pathway, increasing graduation rates, and closing racial equity gaps.”

In support of the Governor’s 70% college-attainment goal, the final budget also included language to adopt the Cal Grant Equity Framework⁠—which we have been proud to champion⁠— but ultimately fell short of providing funding in the final agreement. This leaves the Cal Grant Equity Framework’s implementation and expansion of over 100,000 new Cal Grant awards contingent upon future funding.

“We thank Governor Newsom and our legislative leaders for reaching a final budget agreement that adopts the principles of the Cal Grant Equity Framework and for recognizing the need to equitize and simplify California’s financial aid process,” said Siqueiros. “With the understanding

that our limited state financial aid resources should be targeted to first serve our most vulnerable students, we look forward to working with Governor Newsom and our legislative leaders to secure the funding necessary to support the college dreams for generations of talented Californians to come and enable our lowest-income students to benefit from the Cal Grant Equity Framework,” Siqueiros concluded.

The final budget agreement also includes critical investments in student success, which will support several longstanding priorities of the Campaign and the goals established in the higher education compacts for the UC and CSU and the Roadmap for California’s Future for the CCCs. These investments include $64 million (as a component of a one-time Flexible Block Grant to support CCCs) to implement equitable placement and assessment policy under AB 705 (Irwin, 2017), $65 million to implement transfer reform under AB 928 (Berman, 2021), and $105 million to implement common course numbering at community colleges under AB 1111 (Berman, 2021). The final agreement also increased the California Dream Act Service Incentive Grant maximum annual award by $1,500 to ensure undocumented students serving their communities receive the aid necessary to continue their education and expand access to Cal Grant A recipients.

Read the full statement here.

Statement on Eloy Ortiz Oakley’s Announcement of His Departure as Chancellor of the California Community Colleges

The Campaign for College Opportunity is immensely grateful for Eloy Ortiz Oakley’s six years of service to California students as Chancellor of the nation’s largest and most diverse community college system. As the 10th permanent Chancellor of the California Community Colleges system, Eloy was the first Latino to serve in that critical role.

“Eloy is a champion for our students and our state. As a former Board member of the Campaign for College Opportunity, he collaborated with us on research and policy ideas for ensuring greater racial equity in higher education. We have been fortunate to work with Eloy in advancing some of the most transformative policies to improve student success over the past decade. We know that Eloy will play an important role in realizing Governor Newsom’s vision of a 70% college-attainment goal for Californians, and we look forward to his leadership at the College Futures Foundation,” said Michele Siqueiros, President of the Campaign for College Opportunity.

We are confident that Eloy will continue to prioritize underserved and historically excluded students seeking a college education in California as he becomes President and CEO of the College Futures Foundation this fall. We are also extremely grateful to Monica Lozano and her leadership at the College Futures Foundation for the philanthropic investments and civic leadership she has provided and for her dedication to strengthening higher education and putting students first.

As a former community college transfer student himself, Eloy acted with great urgency to set a bold vision for increasing student success for over two million community college students. His transformative Vision for Success included simplifying and increasing transfer by scaling the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) pathway. During Eloy’s tenure, he nearly doubled the number of ADTs conferred across the 116 campuses, resulting in over 360,000 ADTs awarded. Together with the Campaign, Eloy also championed efforts to end the use of placement tests at California Community Colleges that disproportionately harmed Black and Latinx students. He has been at the forefront of implementing new placement practices that start students in transfer-level English and math courses instead of ineffective remedial education courses. In addition, Eloy has led the way in championing and designing a new equity-centered funding model for the California Community Colleges that provides more funding for campuses serving low-income students and increasing completion rates.

Eloy shepherded the country’s largest system of higher education with a steadfast focus on equity even as he confronted the impacts of a global health pandemic that has been devastating for all, but especially for vulnerable students and hard-working faculty and college leaders. He oversaw many historic accomplishments but, more importantly, leaves a roadmap for improving outcomes and closing racial/ethnic equity gaps in college access and completion. In his role as a University of California (UC) Regent, he was a vocal critic of ineffective and biased standardized testing, resulting in the historic elimination of the use of the SAT/ACT in freshman admissions. He was also an unwavering champion for expanding access and strengthening the transfer pathway for community college students into the UC.

“As the Board of Governors begins the search for a new Chancellor, we urge them to select a proven California community college campus leader with the experience and track record that demonstrates a true commitment to racial equity and improving student success. The California Community Colleges need a leader that prioritizes student enrollment, given the significant loss in enrollment caused by the pandemic, and who will strengthen the pathways for success through transfer and by implementing strong, equitable placement practices. Students deserve an effective leader who can relate to their experiences and reflects the diversity of the system’s student body,” concluded Siqueiros.

Read the full statement here.

Over 40 California Community Colleges Excel in Equitable Course Placement

California Community Colleges honored for being leading campuses in implementation of AB 705, legislation to improve student access and success in transfer-level English and math coursework, featuring equitable course placement champions Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin.

(Los Angeles, CA) – Today at 4pm PST, the Campaign for College Opportunity will recognize over 40 California Community Colleges at the inaugural Excellence in Placement award ceremony. Community college campuses will be honored for implementing landmark placement policy AB 705, championed by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin and signed into law in 2017. Additionally, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis will receive an honor for championing equitable course placement. Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin will join the celebration for remarks and to award colleges for their achievements.

Prior to AB 705, the vast majority of incoming community college students were being placed into remedial math and English courses that ultimately discouraged and derailed students on their college journeys. Over a decade of research has shown that students’ likelihood of earning a degree decreases when they start college in remedial courses.

“At a time when community colleges have seen serious declines in student enrollment, we should be supporting students on the best pathway to achieve success and earn a degree. When our colleges enroll students in transfer-level English and math within their first year, they’re making progress toward their degree from the start! The result is that students save time and money, have fewer obstacles to earning a degree, and the economic standing of our communities and California is strengthened,” said Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity.

AB 705 has proven to be highly consequential for increasing access to transfer-level coursework, maximizing student success, and closing racial/ethnic equity gaps. By starting in transfer-level English, completion rates have tripled for Black students and more than doubled for Latinx students. In math, completion rates have quadrupled for Black students and Latinx students. Many colleges are also being recognized with equity designations for supporting Black and Latinx students to access and succeed in transfer-level math and English. Read more

Board of Trustees

California State University Ends Use of SAT and ACT for Eligibility and Admission

Today, March 23, 2022, the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees made a historic decision to end the use of standardized testing for eligibility and admission to the university system. Today’s decision follows a national and statewide movement urging a more equitable admissions process that does not rely on racially biased admissions tests that do not accurately reflect the talent and potential of students.

The value of a four-year degree continues to be critical for the success of individual students and the collective economic success for California. With continued demand for a more highly educated workforce, college and state leaders must work to increase access while intentionally closing racial equity gaps in college going and graduation rates. We commend the CSU for its bold commitment to equitable opportunity for all students. By removing barriers to the university, we ensure that students can access the transformative power of a four-year degree and secure the economic prosperity of our state.

“I am a proud product of the CSU, and I would’ve been a product even sooner if I could’ve gotten in as a freshman. Because of the enrollment barriers that I faced and lack of tools offered to me as a student, I wasn’t equipped to have entry into the CSU. But I know that my story is the same for many all across California,” said trustee Yammilette Rodriguez as the Board deliberated the decision. Read more

Statement on Passage of Urgent Legislation: Preserving Access to California’s Public Universities

We commend the Legislature and Governor for swiftly acting on Monday to preserve the right of talented, qualified students to access a quality, public higher education. Together, the Governor and Legislature passed legislation that ensures the incoming class at the University of California, Berkeley can enroll on campus this fall despite a recent court order ruling that would have forced the campus to slash enrollment by 2,600 students.

As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, our message to students and their families must be clear—California stands for opportunity and increasing capacity for students to earn a college degree. We cannot shut the doors to college opportunity and limit the potential of talented California students who have worked hard and earned their spot at our public universities.

Our 2021 report, Shut Out: The Need to Increase Access to the University of California and California State University, documented how the value of a bachelor’s degree only continues to rise both for individuals and the state. Yet, California has thousands more eligible students for our public universities than there are seats. California is turning away the human capital needed to stay economically competitive because of outdated university eligibility targets from 1960 and insufficient state funding for higher education. Read more

Statement on the California State University’s Search for a New Chancellor

The immediate resignation of Chancellor Joseph I. Castro on Thursday, February 17th means that the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees will embark upon one of its most important duties: the identification and selection of a new Chancellor.

With only one woman having served as Chancellor of the CSU in its long history, the time is now for the CSU Board of Trustees to select a woman who can help write the next phase of the CSU story. With its deep bench of outstanding CSU campus presidents—including eleven women—and talented women who serve as college leaders across California and our nation, the CSU Trustees are starting this search with a wealth of options that should yield a Chancellor who inspires our students, engages our faculty, has a deep understanding of California and a proven track record of improving racial and gender equity. We ask the Trustees to ensure the next Chancellor of the CSU be an unapologetic advocate for racial and gender equity in higher education and has a vision for supporting student success across each campus. Read more

California Governor Gavin Newsom and Six Legislators Recognized for Outstanding Leadership in Supporting College Access and Student Success

On January 19, 2022, the Campaign for College Opportunity hosted its 2021 Legislative Dean’s List Reception in a virtual ceremony to honor seven California legislative leaders for their fundamental roles in pursuing student-centered policies that advance college opportunity, college affordability, student success, racial equity and institutional coordination.

The Campaign recognized the following legislative leaders:
• California Governor Gavin Newsom – Distinction in Higher Education Vision & Investment, recognizing his critical leadership to pass an unprecedented $47 billion higher education package in the 2021-22 State Budget agreement. We commend his visionary leadership on strengthening community college transfer, expanding state financial aid and more. Read more

Governor Newsom’s Historic Budget Invests in the Future: Proposing $36.9B for Higher Education

Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a $39.6 billion investment for higher education in his 2022 budget proposal anchored by new multi-year funding agreements with the University of California (UC), California State University (CSU), and California Community Colleges. This ambitious framework reflects The Campaign for College Opportunity’s long-standing priorities of increasing in-state student enrollment in our universities, improving time to completion and graduation rates, strengthening the transfer pathway, closing equity gaps, reducing total cost of attendance, and encouraging intersegmental coordination. The Governor’s budget proposal also reflects a bold, newly established goal of achieving 70 percent postsecondary degree and certificate attainment by 2030 for California adults. Progress toward this goal is supported by a multi-year plan to grow enrollment, with over 21,000 new seats for California students at the UC and CSU proposed to be open by 2026. Read more

California Colleges & Universities Lead the State in Supporting Transfer Students

Several California Community Colleges and California State Universities to be honored for their success at enrolling and graduating Associate-Degree-for-Transfer-earners, and many for closing racial/ethnic equity gaps.

Today, the Campaign for College Opportunity will virtually honor California Community Colleges and California State University (CSU) campuses leading the state in supporting the transfer goals of students at the annual Champions of Higher Education for Excellence in Transfer award ceremony. Community college campuses will be honored for significantly increasing the number of students earning an Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT), an instrumental pathway that has streamlined the transfer process. CSU campuses will be recognized for enrolling ADT-earning students with junior status and graduating them with a bachelor’s degree. The ceremony will commence at 10 a.m. PT on Zoom.

Transfer from a community college to a four-year university continues to be a bureaucratic, inconsistent, and confusing maze, where students must parse through a system with varied information and requirements for each campus. Though transfer is often thought of as a two-year process, only 2.5 percent of California Community College students transfer after two years, and only 23 percent after four years. Read more