Students on computer

In an effort to maximize the number of students completing transfer requirements in less time, community colleges across California have eliminated placement tests and are allowing students to self-place for the first time.

The elimination of testing was required when The California Assembly passed a bill in late 2017 that was meant to ensure that students have ample opportunity to enter and complete transfer-level math and English classes in a year.

Like other California community colleges, Orange Coast College administrators grappled with how to work with students who may need extra help as a result of self-placement. The college didn’t eliminate all remedial courses and some are available for students who want to benefit from them.

However, enrollment for transfer-level courses seems to be far and away the most popular choice by students this semester.

“We had an explosion in enrollment in English 100 this fall,” said Michael Mandelkern, dean of Literature and Languages which includes the English department.

Mandelkern said English 98, Basic English Skills, was completely eliminated but there are a few English 99, Confidence in Writing, courses still available for students who want them. However, multiple free, noncredit English Language Learning courses are being offered this semester for students who may struggle with the language and want more help.

Following the changes, there are 95 full sections of English 100 compared to the 70 sections available last fall. Mandelkern added that the 95 course offerings still aren’t enough.

Similarly, the Math and Science department offered 54 sections of pre-transfer level math courses last fall, but now offers only seven sections. There are now only 38 new sections of transfer-level classes offered with support embedded in the courses.

According to Tara Giblin, Dean of the Math and Science division, the Math and Science department worked incredibly hard to guarantee entry-level courses were available and appropriate for all students coming in.

“This is something completely new,” Giblin said. “The Math faculty, more than anything, want to see students be successful.”

Some campus officials worry that students who self-place in courses they are under-prepared for won’t succeed. In an effort to reach out to those students, the Student Success Center plans to make adjustments in its tutors.

Jaki Kamphuis, OCC’s tutorial services coordinator, said she anticipates a higher number of students at the Student Success Center and plans to hire more tutors to accommodate the influx.

Kamphuis says as the students come in, she’ll get a better idea of how to reorganize and adjust. The Student Success Center is available for students who need or want support.

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