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Calif. State Assembly Votes to Strengthen Landmark College Transfer Degree Bill

Senator Alex PadillaSACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — The California State Assembly today unanimously approved SB 440 authored by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima). The bill would require the California Community Colleges (CCC) and the California State University (CSU) to develop a strategic plan to implement the Student Transfer Achievement Reform (STAR) Act. The bill now faces a final concurrence vote in the State Senate and then will go to the Governor’s desk.

Seventy-three percent of California college students attend community colleges. However, only 25 percent of those who intend to transfer to four-year universities actually achieve that goal. A key barrier to student transfer is the inconsistent, duplicative and ever-changing coursework requirements that students face. These barriers frustrate and discourage students, and add expense to them, and inefficiency to the college system.

In 2010 Senator Padilla authored SB 1440, the landmark Student Transfer Achievement Reform (STAR) Act, which required the California Community Colleges and the California State University to streamline the transfer process for community college students by creating two-year Associate in Arts (AA-T) and Associate in Science degrees (AS-T) for transfer with priority admission to the CSU system with junior status.

A 2012 Legislative Analyst’s Office report titled, Reforming the States Transfer Process: A Progress Report on SB 1440, concluded, “while some progress has been made to implement SB 1440, both segments have much room for improvement” and “that just four associate degrees for transfer have been developed per community college and a number of community colleges have expressed reluctance to create more than a handful.”

In fall, 2012 more than 10,000 community college applicants identified themselves as being eligible for the associate degree for transfer, however, due to lack of available transfer degrees provided by their respective campuses, only 2,500 were granted by the California Community Colleges.

Specifically, SB 440 would require that the California Community Colleges and the California State University develop a strategic plan for full implementation of the STAR Act and create Associate Degrees for Transfer in every major by 2014-15 and in each areas of emphasis by 2016-17.

“While both the California Community Colleges and the California State University have made progress in implementing the STAR Act, they have fallen short. SB 440 establishes specific goals and timetables for full implementation,” said Senator Alex Padilla.

“Community college students deserve a clear and certain pathway to transfer. I want to make sure that students at every community college campus have the opportunity to earn a transfer degree that guarantees admission to a California State University with junior standing,” added Padilla.

“For California to meet the growing demand for skilled workers, we must dramatically improve the rate at which students transfer from community colleges and graduate from four-year universities,” said Senator Padilla.

Senator Alex Padilla, 40, graduated from MIT with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He currently serves on the Board of MIT and is President of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. He is Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and represents the more than 1,100,000 residents of the 20th State Senate District in Los Angeles.

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