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Emily Forschen


“Lost Potential” no more. Las Positas is making a name for itself with its most recent accomplishment.

Nearly three-quarters of Las Positas College students complete English requirements in one year. That is the second-highest rate in the state among community colleges. Only Moorpark College has a higher completion rate.

This is being seen as evidence that placement strategies are working at Las Positas, giving momentum to a movement.

Two years ago, the college got rid of the placement test requirement for incoming students. Instead, students could choose which method they would like to be placed in classes by: their high school GPA or a placement test. This has proven especially beneficial to English students. Under the new placement strategy, students were able to start in transferable English courses and finish in two semesters.

Students getting through English, a core requirement, faster means getting out of Las Positas faster.

“We were putting students in basic skills courses who didn’t need those course, which was costing them time and money,” English faculty member Michelle Gonzales said.

Last month, the Public Policy Institute of California released its findings about remedial education reforms within California Community Colleges. The data revealed that 74 percent of Las Positas College students managed to satisfy their English requirement for transfer within one year during the 2016-17 school year.

These are the first results after Las Positas began allowing students with a high school GPA of 2.5 or greater to enroll directly into transfer-level English. Previously, students would be placed in an English course based only on their performance on the placement test. Since remedial classes aren’t transferable, that delays when students can transfer.

Chabot, for example, still requires placement tests. Only 51 percent of their incoming students completed their English requirements last year, and that is a decline from 59 percent in the year before.

“I have to say that I did pump my fist in the air,” Gonzales said, “and say ‘Take that!’ to people and/or other campuses who suggested that our English department simply wanted to move students up who weren’t ready.”

Las Positas is not the first California community college to implement the strategy of doing away with placement exams. However, it was singled out by PPIC as an “early-implementer” of the method. Among a select few other community colleges, LPC demonstrated high success in the English department specifically. The school has plans to accelerate completion times even further by launching co-requisite English courses in 2019. This would allow incoming students with low GPAs to take remedial courses alongside their transferable English requirements.

The pressure is on Chabot to follow suit with the doing away of placement test requirements. It not only impacts the transfer rates of the Chabot-Las Positas College District, but it also impacts Las Positas College students who are taking classes concurrently at Chabot.

According to the report from PPIC, Chabot still using only placement tests “can pose challenges for students who are assessed at Las Positas and want to take transfer-level English at their sister college.”


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