A great deal of fear surrounds the implementation of recent legislation and how it might impact the very interconnected California higher education system, courses, and most importantly students. As basic skills courses have become scarce, concerns have arisen about how to maintain course eligibility for transfer when the required basic skills prerequisites may no longer be offered by the college.
AB 705 (Irwin, 2017) was passed in 2017 and discouraged the placement of students into pre-transfer intermediate algebra while encouraging placement of students directly into transfer-level math based on multiple measures data. Some colleges completely eliminated pre-transfer offerings in response to a 2022 required plan from the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office that asked colleges to justify, with data, the scheduling of pre-transfer math courses. Faculty became increasingly concerned about California State University and University of California articulation requirements because they may require a prerequisite or corequisite to approve courses as transferable.
All California community colleges are also soon to implement common course numbering statewide on or before July 1, 2024 due to the passing of AB 1111 (Berman, 2021). This bill requires all colleges in California to adopt the same course number for comparable courses in order to “streamline transfer from two- to four-year postsecondary educational institutions and reduce excess credit accumulation,” starting with C-ID courses. C-ID also recommends specific prerequisites for course alignment.
Looking at both required and recommended prerequisites, faculty have noted that many of the courses that are now scarcely offered, or are no longer offered at all, are the same courses that are recommended or required by the university systems. The University of California held a webinar in 2021 to address this issue, letting articulation officers know that they could rest assured that courses do not need to be offered at a college in order to meet the curricular prerequisite requirements. They even gave suggested language that could be used in lieu of a specific course. The UC Office of the President initiated a faculty review of the UC Transfer Course Agreement (TCA) Guidelines in response to community college faculty questions about AB 705’s impact on community college courses and their UC-transferability. The review affirmed the following:
- With regard to a prerequisite or co-requisite, the UC checks for but does not evaluate the prerequisite or co-requisite in TCA submissions in English composition, English writing, mathematics, and statistics.
- As noted in the UC Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools' “Statement on Basic Math for all Admitted UC students”: “As is current practice, UC will not assess the content of prerequisites for UC-transferable courses. The prerequisite courses will be identified by the faculty at the community colleges. The system of using Transferable Course Agreements between the segments of higher education in California is based on trust and respect for the faculty’s authority to make local decisions consistent with the broad guidelines for such agreements…” 
In February 2022, the UC offered even more guidance in a special webinar titled, “Yours, Mine, and Ours”, which shared the following suggested language to be used on course outlines of record in lieu of a specific course:
Examples of descriptive language Articulation Officers have entered into the prerequisite field when not listing a course as a prerequisite:
- “Multiples measures as determined by faculty”
- “Completion of Intermediate Algebra or appropriate placement based on AB 705 mandates”
- “Completion of intermediate algebra or equivalent”
- “ENGL 10 or ENGL 20 or placement in ENGL 1A”
One final concern some colleges have noted is that their curriculum software only allows them to put a specific course as a prerequisite, as opposed to the suggested language in lieu of a course. This issue can be resolved easily, as other areas are present where notes can simply be added to course submissions when software does not allow descriptive language like that suggested by the UC in the prerequisite field of the course outline of record.
Intersegmental coordination has become more important with the broad sweeping changes brought about by recent legislation. As colleges move forward to continue to implement pending legislation, faculty must remain vocal about any unintended consequences for transfer-bound students. The ASCCC will continue to bring feedback to discussions and to advocate with legislators as well as the CSU and UC system offices to ensure these ambitious efforts are feasible and equitable and meet the needs of all students.
1. The full statement is available at https://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/_files/committees/boars/BOARSStatementonBasicMath.pdf.