​CalChamber Urges Governor to Sign Education Bills

​Two California Chamber of commerce-supported education bills are awaiting a signature on the Governor’s desk.

  • AB 288 (Holden; D-Pasadena) provides high school students with increased access to college-level CTE coursework, gives them a head-start on transferring to a four-year institution, improves high school graduation rates and helps high school students achieve college and career readiness by authorizing high school districts and community college districts to partner and offer dual enrollment programs that further these purposes.
  • AB 1016 (Santiago; D-Los Angeles) allows the Legislature to better evaluate the effectiveness of the state’s transfer degree program by asking the chancellors of the California Community College system and the California State University (CSU) to report on the extent to which transfer degree students are being admitted to the CSU campuses of their choice to programs related to their transfer degrees, the number of units those students enter the CSU with, and their graduation rates after 2 and 3 years attending a CSU.

AB 288: Expands College and Career Pathways

AB 288 creates a comprehensive framework to allow more high school students to concurrently enroll in community college courses offered at a nearby community college campus or at their high school.

Improving educational attainment rates is arguably one of the most important things policy makers can do to ensure the long-term health of our economy, and to improve the lives of future generations of Californians. While the percentage of Californians who have attended at least some college has grown in recent years, educational attainment rates are increasing far too slowly to keep pace with the growing needs of California’s economy.

The state Employment Development Department (EDD) estimates that there will be an additional 2.6 million new jobs by 2020, 64% of which will require at least some college training. If current college participation rates continue, however, the state will be short at least 1 million workers with bachelor’s degrees, and short an additional 1 million to 1.5 million workers with some college training by 2025.

To meet these needs, the state education system needs to become more flexible, and create clearer pathways between high school and the workforce. Expanding concurrent enrollment programs for high school students, as AB 288 does, creates an important pathway that will benefit many students, regardless of their goals.

AB 288 allows students to participate in concurrent enrollment programs for remediation, and will give at-risk students exposure to coursework that relates to career opportunities in key industry sectors, increasing their engagement and encouraging them to complete high school and possibly pursue post-secondary training. The measure also gives high-achieving students opportunities to take college-level coursework that counts toward their high school graduation requirements and an associate’s degree, saving them money and time as they work toward transferring to a four-year college or university.

All students will benefit from increased access to career technical education aligned to local workforce needs, which many high schools currently do not have the capacity or faculty to provide. In this way, AB 288 helps students who need extra support, encourages more students who might otherwise opt out of post-secondary education to enroll, and provides new challenges for students who already are excelling in high school.

AB 1016: Provides Oversight of Transfer Degree Program

AB 1016 requires the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges to report to the Legislature on the status of each campus’ implementation of the program in 2016 and 2017. It also requires the Chancellor of the CSU to report to the Legislature on campus acceptance of model curricula by concentration in 2016 and 2017, and to annually post information about transfer students, including their average number of units completed at the time of transfer and upon graduation, their graduation rates from the CSU within two and three years of transfer, and the percentage that were admitted to their campus of choice and into a degree program related to their transfer degree concentration, until October 2023.

California has long lagged behind other states in its direct college-going rates for high school graduates, and many students who start out in a community college never make it to a four-year university, much less complete a bachelor’s degree. At the same time, California’s employers have a growing need for workers who have earned an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. For this reason, the CalChamber is strongly supportive of the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act, which promises to help more community college students earn associate’s degrees and graduate from CSUs within two to three years of transferring.

When the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) reviewed the status of implementation of the program this past February, it found that most campuses in both institutions had made considerable progress, but also identified areas where improvement is still needed, and data that would be useful to allow all aspects of the program to be properly evaluated.

AB 1016 addresses these observations by the LAO, and will enable the Legislature to continue monitoring implementation of the program over the next few years so that it can make adjustments if necessary.

Action Needed

The CalChamber is urging businesses to contact the Governor and urge him to sign AB 288 and AB 1016.

Staff Contact: Mira Morton