By Ivan Cazares
California Governor Jerry Brown approved a bill aimed at improving student transfer rates by encouraging high school students to enroll in community college courses.
Assembly Bill 288 would allow the governing board of a community college district to establish a College and Career Access Pathways partnership with the governing board of a school district.
The purpose of such a partnership would be to develop pathways from high school to community college for technical education or preparation for transfer, to improve high school graduation rates and help high school students achieve college and career readiness.
East Los Angeles College is currently a part of a partnership with Garfield High School and California State University, Los Angeles.
The Go East LA: A Pathway for College and Career Success initiative was created in 2014.
It guarantees admission to CSULA to any Garfield or ELAC student that meets the minimum transfer requirements. Garfield students that meet the minimum enrollment requirements are guaranteed admission at ELAC. The program makes use of ELAC’s resources to prepare students to transfer.
Garfield currently offers nine college level classes on its campus. Garfield College Advisor Matilde Lopez said students are taking advantage of the the classes. Each class consists of about 30 students.
ELAC and CSULA representatives reach out to other high schools and Garfield representatives reach out to middle schools.
All three institutions work with business, community and school partners to increase college awareness. They also work towards ensuring a guaranteed pathway to college completion.
“The goal is to change the culture,” ELAC Public Information Officer Alejandro Guzman said. He explained that a large number of students and their parents assume they cannot afford college.
A primary objective of programs like Go East LA is to get students thinking about college at an early age.
“We introduce the idea of college starting at the elementary school level,” Lopez said.
Existing laws allow high achieving students to attend community college summer sessions with their principal’s recommendation and their parents permission.
They could earn up to 11 credits. The bill would allow specified students to enroll in up to 15 units per term.
The bill identifies students that are struggling and are in danger of dropping out as potential benefactors. Dual enrollment is usually reserved for academically successful students.
However, research conducted by the state legislature finds that it can benefit a broad range of students.
Section one of the bill states that “California should rethink its policies governing dual enrollment, and establish a policy framework under which school districts and community college districts could create dual enrollment partnerships as one strategy to provide critical support for underachieving students.”
Students must be passing their daytime classes before applying for dual enrollment. “Eventually students will be able to enroll in classes that help them in their high school classes,” Lopez said.
The bill is meant to benefit groups underrepresented in higher education institutions, those seeking advanced studies while in high school and those seeking a technical career, or certificate.
“We encourage students to take the classes we offer here,” Bell High School’s College and Career Counselor Frank Marquez said.
Bell offers Administration of Justice and Child Development courses to its students every semester.
Marquez pointed out that transportation is a factor that affects the number of high school students that enroll in classes at a community college.
Lawmakers have proposed similar bills in the past to no avail.
Dual enrollment advocates argue that the current laws are too restrictive and could hamper students ability to access laboratory and other rigorous courses, which often count for a higher number of units than other courses.