In the 2021 legislative cycle, multiple bills were passed that were directed at the California Community Colleges system. Of those bills, Assembly Bills 927, 928, and 1111 may have the most widespread and lasting impacts on the colleges in the system. Each bill has a timeline for implementation and the potential for both immediate and long-term effects.
AB 927 (Medina, 2021), focused on California community college baccalaureate degrees, accomplishes several things immediately. It eliminates the sunset date for the degrees that were established under the previous baccalaureate legislation, SB 850 (Block, 2014). Under Senator Block’s bill, fifteen community colleges were allowed to create pilot baccalaureate degrees that were due to sunset in 2026. The new bill, signed by the governor on October 6, 2021, allows for the introduction of up to an additional thirty baccalaureate programs per year, beginning in 2022. The degrees cannot duplicate programs currently offered in the California State University or University of California systems, so the focus will be predominately on applied baccalaureate degrees. The first applications were due on January 15, 2022, with additional application cycles due annually on August 15 and January 15. Colleges are allowed to charge an additional $84 per semester unit for upper division coursework, and the limitations on the number of programs per district have been removed. The expansion of the baccalaureate program has also led to the creation of the California Community Colleges Baccalaureate Association, which is “dedicated to developing, promoting, and strengthening community college baccalaureate programs in California” and which includes representation from the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, the Community College League of California, and many of the California community colleges and districts where a baccalaureate is already offered.
AB 928 (Berman, 2021) is focused on creating transfer pathways between the California community colleges and public four-year higher education institutions. This bill, which was signed into law in October, has three major parts:
- The creation of an Associate Degree for Transfer Intersegmental Implementation Committee, comprised of practitioners from all three public higher education systems as well as the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities. Additionally, stakeholders from outside of the systems, including the Department of Education, educational equity and social justice organizations, workforce representatives, and others, will be included, for a total of sixteen members. Of those members, four are representatives of the California Community Colleges system: one appointed by the Chancellor’s Office, one by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, one by the Student Senate for California Community Colleges, and a second student appointed by the governor. The first chair of the council will be the Chancellor’s Office appointee, with all appointments to be made by March 1, 2022. However, the committee will be convened by a third-party facilitator who will be appointed by the governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Recommendations from this group are to be made to the legislature by the end of December 2023.
- The creation of a single lower division general education pathway for students intending to transfer to the UC or CSU systems that cannot exceed the current unit total for IGETC, which is 34 semester units. This pathway is to be created by the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates (ICAS) by the end of May, 2023. To this end, ICAS has created a special subgroup including three representatives from each of the three systems, along with representatives from the three administrative offices—the Chancellor’s Offices for the CSU and the California Community Colleges and the University of California Office of the President—and an articulation officer. In addition, student advisors from each of the three segments are invited to participate and provide input on the creation of the pathway. That subgroup begins meeting in February and hopes to have the new pathway determined by the end of the academic year. Recognizing that concern is present at colleges around the state, especially within certain disciplines that are part of some general education patterns but not others, the ASCCC has created a feedback portal to allow practitioners to weigh in, which can be found at https://asccc.org/content/submit-input-ab-928. We will continue to provide updates as progress is made on the creation of this new pattern.
- The automatic placement onto an ADT pathway of all students who indicate a goal of transfer and for whom an ADT is offered at the college they are attending. This portion of the bill does allow students to opt out of the pathway, which requires that the students are aware that they can do so if they are seeking to transfer to an institution that does not accept the ADT, including the University of California system campuses and many private universities.
The governor’s proposed budget does include money to support the implementation of this bill, although it is below the amount estimated by the Chancellor’s Office for implementation. Monies provided for guided pathways, transfer alignment to the HBCUs, and other funds can also be directed towards the implementation of AB 928.
Finally, AB 1111 (Berman, 2021) calls for the creation of a student-facing common course numbering system to be used by California community colleges for all general education requirement courses and courses within the transfer pathways. The idea of a common course numbering system is not new, having been implemented by some college districts already and having been used between local CSU and community college campuses in the past. Additionally, the idea of a common course numbering system to assist in transfer was referenced in the report Recovery with Equity: A Roadmap for Higher Education After the Pandemic(California Governor’s Council for Post-Secondary Education, 2021), and funding was included in the 2021 budget language for the establishment of a workgroup to begin the creation of this system. The workgroup, which has not yet been formed, will begin by focusing on courses within the C-ID system that already have a version of a common course number and then will move on to transfer pathway courses that are not part of the C-ID universe. While neither the UC nor the CSU systems are being asked or required to do a similar type of common course numbering, the hope is that these course numbers will align as much as possible, given the need to take into account the range of courses that potentially fit under a C-ID descriptor as well as the often messy transition from quarters to semesters or vice-versa. As the ASCCC receives more information about the progress of this process, we will provide further updates.
These three pieces of legislation will no doubt keep college practitioners as well as the ASCCC busy for the next few years. We hope that at the end of the work, the system will have greater capacity for students seeking baccalaureate degrees as well as a more streamlined process for those seeking to transfer out of the community colleges into a four-year university or college, remembering that, at the end of the day, the students are always the most important concern.
California Governor’s Council for Post-Secondary Education. (2021, February). Recovery with Equity: A Roadmap for Higher Education After the Pandemic. Retrieved from https://postsecondarycouncil.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/18/2021/03….
 Further details regarding AB 927 can be found at https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=20….
 More information on the California Community Colleges Baccalaureate Association can be found at https://cccbac.org/.
 Further details regarding AB 928 can be found at https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=20….
 Further details regarding AB 1111 can be found at https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=20….