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Reports from Policy Analysts

Bill to Prohibit Standardized Placement Exams in California Community Colleges

Submitted On: Friday, July 14, 2017

Analyst: Melzer, Dan

AB 705, a bill under consideration by the California state legislature, would prohibit a community college or community college district from requiring students to enroll in remedial coursework based solely on a placement exam. The bill would force community colleges to consider high school GPA and coursework, among other possible measures, when placing students into math and English courses. AB 705’s goal is to “maximize the probability that the student will enter and complete transfer-level coursework in English and mathematics within a one-year timeframe.” The bill has been unanimously passed by the State Assembly’s Committee on Higher Education.

AB 705 argues that “the choice of assessment instruments and placement policies has serious implications for equity, since students of color are more likely to be placed into remedial courses.” The bill points to adverse consequences of overplacement into remediation, such as discouraging students from pursuing postsecondary education, burdening them with higher costs, and delaying their degree plans. AB 705 also points to the research that shows that a student’s high school transcript is a stronger predictor of success in transfer-level college courses than standardized placement tests.

AB 705 is in line with a national movement away from the use of standardized tests to place students into non-credit bearing remedial courses and toward multiple measures for placement and accelerated paths to completing math and English requirements such as stretch and co-requisite courses. This trend is reflected in various NCTE position statements on writing assessment and placement that can be found at

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Higher Education



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