As 2022 winds down, it is important to reflect on some of the many accomplishments our system has made on behalf of our 1.8 million students. There are many achievements to celebrate, but I have selected six big wins that will impact students in a positive way for years to come.

Before I get to the list, however, I want to begin by thanking all of you for committing your hearts and your talents to our system and for unconditionally supporting the success of our students. We have much more room to grow and improve, but I know it is possible because of your leadership and our resilient students. 

Remedial Education Reform

Extraordinary progress has been made as we have reformed remedial education since the passage of AB 705. Just 10 years ago, the vast majority of community college students in California were forced to begin in remedial education.  

One-year completion of transfer-level courses increased from 49% to 67% in English, and from 26% to 50% in mathematics, from fall 2015 to fall 2019, with substantial increases in completion for all students. 

The Public Policy Institute of California has called this progress “nothing short of remarkable.” And now with AB 1705 we have resources available from the state to help colleges complete this transformational change. Colleges also received individualized improvement plans this month and technical assistance and professional development refreshers will be deployed. As 2023 approaches, we must take urgent action to finish the historic reform of remedial education and make good on our promise.

Continued progress towards Vision for Success goals

We’re exceeding our goal of increasing the number of students earning credentials each year by at least 20% over five years. Since 2016-17, the number of students receiving credentials has increased by 27%.  

Transfer to California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC) increased by 4% from last year. As we meet these goals, the system is also authentically engaging in unapologetic conversations about racial equity gaps and stubborn regional gaps.

Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

The national Association of Community College Trustees recognized the way our system, guided by the Vision for Success, is putting students and equity at the core of everything that we do. Colleges are working to build truly diverse and inclusive campuses by encouraging honest conversations about race and institutional racism, auditing campus environments, examining curricula for cultural bias, and celebrating what makes our system diverse and truly one of a kind. 

Ninety-four percent of community college districts have participated in DEIA convenings and nearly 40 boards of trustees have taken public stands supporting these values and elevating them in practice and through formalized policies at our campuses. 

We continue to lead this work through the regional Equal Employment Opportunity Promising Practices Showcase. Many of you will be speakers for these regional events, but as a whole your work is already a model for innovation that will transform this system for years to come.

Basic Needs and Financial Aid Improvements

The new state budget accelerates investments in affordable housing for our students and dramatically expands student financial aid opportunities. New this year are:

  • Additional support for full-time students through the Student Success Completion Grant.
  • Expanded eligibility to nearly all full-time students for the California College Promise Grant, waiving their fees.
  • For workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a new Golden State Education and Training grant.
  • And the state has committed to overhaul the Cal Grant system to make it more equitable for community college students. Eligibility requirements such as time since high school graduation, which penalized older students, and students’ GPA are being changed to provide 100,000 more students with assistance starting in 2024.

Record State Support for Community Colleges

Our progress has been recognized by the governor and Legislature in the multi-year strategy for public higher education known as the Roadmap for the Future. This year’s budget for community colleges provides about $4 billion more in funding the prior year, about half in one-time funding and half in ongoing funding. 

These actions deepen and extend our opportunity to achieve the Vision for Success goals, but also prompts us to be even more ambitious in our goals into the future. Unprecedented investments by our state must be matched with unprecedented student-centered action.

Bachelor’s Degree Program Expansion 

And lastly, there are now more options available to students looking for a bachelor’s degree. The California Community Colleges Baccalaureate Degree Program was created to make it easier and more affordable for community college students to get their bachelor’s degree. Thanks to statewide advocacy and new legislation, the bachelor’s degree program is now permanent, and more degrees have recently been added. There are currently 18 bachelor’s degree programs available at community colleges and up to 30 new programs can be added every year. Students who enroll in this program may also qualify for the California Middle Class Scholarship, previously exclusive for UC and CSU baccalaureate students.

There are many more accomplishments to name, but I hope this gives you a sense of pride and re-energizes you to believe that anything is possible. We are well on our way, and I hope you are all in. 

Happy holidays and a happy New Year everyone!