State law to eliminate English, mathematics prerequisites

Nazar Tymofyeyev, Staff Reporter

Major changes are coming to De Anza College’s curriculum thanks to Assembly Bill No. 705, proposed by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, and subsequently approved by Gov. Jerry Brown last Fall. The bill aims to maximize the probability of students entering and completing transfer-level coursework in English and mathematics within one year.

This is accomplished by shifting priority from traditional placement tests to applicants’ high school GPA evaluation.

“The math department is discussing various changes in placement, curriculum and support, that will shorten the time to transfer readiness while improving overall success rates,” said Jerry Rosenberg, Dean of mathematics department.

Thomas Ray, Dean of English department, said teams of faculty from impacted departments and student support areas are meeting regularly to work out details of the curricular and technical changes in order to meet the state requirements.

A college-wide team comprising of student service staff including counseling, outreach and assessment have been meeting monthly to coordinate all the activities. Various ideas included shortening the pre-college course sequence to one or two courses, changing placement policies to allow a greater number of students to enter higher level math courses, providing concurrent support courses and additional support services, such as tutoring and counseling.

Logan Rowin, 20, mechanical engineering major, said his placement tests were a poor representation of his actual knowledge, partially because of the stress. He was forced to retake high-school material.

“It was just a bad day for a test,” Rowin said. “I think any other way would be better than what we have now.”

The timeline that the state provided, requires colleges to fully implement a new curriculum in English, reading and math by fall of 2019 in order to be in compliance. Full guidelines are yet to be provided by the state.

“I am very proud of how quickly our faculty have responded to the challenge of making major curriculum and program changes on such a short time frame,” Ray said. “The faculty and counselors have kept the success of our students at the center of all of our planning and discussions.”