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New bill saves taxpayers money, streamlines college completion

What would it mean to high school students and their parents, as well as state taxpayers, if students were able to take the first two years of college while attending courses on their high school campuses?

How about saving the time and expense of two years of college and the ability to enter the workforce two years earlier? Better yet, for those students who are typically underrepresented and not already college-bound, studies show these types of "dual enrollment" programs increase degree completion, reduce remediation and stimulate greater interest in higher education.

In 2015, Assemblymember Chris Holden (AD 41) authored AB 288, the College and Career Access Pathways (CCAP) Act. The bill created partnerships between high school and community college districts to allow a broad range of students to take college courses on their local high school campuses. The goal was to develop a seamless pathway from high school to community college for career technical education and transfer preparation, while providing students with a good foundation for future college success.

When AB 288 became law, dual enrollment programs, also known as concurrent enrollment and early college, were already proving very successful for high school students throughout the nation. In California, however, existing education code requirements made such dual credit programs much more difficult to implement. Thanks to Assemblymember Holden's vision, commitment to the value of dual enrollment and his steadfast persistence, CCAP became law in California in January 2016.

Following more than two years of successful implementation at high schools and community colleges throughout the state, Assemblymember Holden introduced AB 30 this year. Among other things, AB 30 streamlines the CCAP application process for students and extends the sunset date of the program until January 1, 2027. The bill passed both houses of the Legislature without a single "no" vote, and is now sitting on the Governor's desk awaiting his anticipated signature.

At a time when college costs are skyrocketing and education beyond high school is becoming a perquisite for the majority of high paying, in-demand careers, streamlining the pathway to college is a very good thing.