“GP Stories” Highlight Equity-Minded Approaches to Guided Pathways Redesign

01 Aug 2019

Required remedial math and English classes once served as a barrier to many of California’s community college students, and the problem disproportionately affected students of color, non-native speakers of English, and other groups underrepresented in higher education.

Depending on their results on placement tests, students could need several remedial noncredit classes in math or English before they could move on to transfer level, for-credit courses. AB 705, which took effect in 2018, mandated significant changes to remedial classes, and ultimately requires that students have the opportunity to complete transfer level math and English courses in one year.

In the latest “GP Stories,” we’ve highlighted the equity-minded approaches of three community colleges to rethinking their curriculum in ways that align with Guided Pathways redesign: Solano College, Cuyamaca College, and College of the Redwoods.

Solano College decided to break down the barriers between ESL and English classes to fulfill AB 705’s mandate. Rather than waiting for all non-native features to be eliminated from the speech of ESL students before moving them to the next level of English classes, Solano created classes that expose ESL students to the themes and discourse of transfer level English.

College of the Redwoods reconsidered their math requirement, recognizing that traditional math sequences were necessary for students pursuing STEM careers, but not especially relevant to those in other disciplines. They instituted several math pathways for students depending on their career interests, with sequences in statistics, contemporary math, and applied career technical math.

Cuyamaca College took a somewhat different approach. As preparation for the changes that would result from AB 705, the college conducted a training that asked instructors and professors of English to reflect on their strengths and weakness as equity-minded teachers. The instructors then set their own benchmarks for successful change. It is too soon to assess the impact of these changes on transfer-level English courses, but data show completion rates for these classes have already completed.

Read the complete GP stories on the efforts underway at Solano and Cuyamaca Colleges and College of the Redwoods to learn more about these changes, and find additional resources and GP stories on our website.