California SB 520 – Text of Proposed Draft Bill for Online Education Platform

Thanks to Ry Rivard at Inside Higher Ed, we have a copy of the draft bill as of March 8, 2013. With cooperation of Caffeine-Fueled Transcriptions, Inc, I thought it would be useful to share the full text. Please note that this is a draft bill that will be amended over time. I have added formatting (indents) to help with readability. See previous post for description of press conference (including Q&A) and press coverage.


SECTION 1. The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) In recent years, California’s public higher education institutions have faced skyrocketing demand for enrollment at a time when they lack capacity to provide students with access to courses necessary for program completion and success.

(b) In the 2012 – 13 academic year, 85 percent of California Community Colleges (CCC) reported having waiting lists for their fall 2012 course sections, with a statewide average of more than 7,000 students on waiting lists per college.

(c) Similarly, impacted courses have contributed significantly to difficulties within the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems, with figures indicating that only 60 percent and 16 percent of students, respectively, are able to earn a degree within four years, with lack of access to key courses a factor in increased time-to-degree.

(d) With rapidly developing innovation in online course delivery models, California’s public institutions of higher education have a unique opportunity to meet critical demands for enrollment and reduce time-to-degree by providing students with access to high-quality, alternative, online pathways to successfully complete and obtain credit for the most impacted lower division courses.

(e) California could significantly benefit from a statutorily enacted, quality-first, faculty-led framework allowing students in online courses in strategically selected lower division majors and general education fields to be awarded credit at the UC, CSU, and CCC systems. While providing easy access to these courses, these systems could also continually assess the value of the courses and grates of student success in utilizing these alternative online pathways.

SECTION 2. Section 66409.3 is added to the Education Code, to read:

(a) The California Online Student Access Platform is hereby established. The platform shall be administered but the California Open Education Resources Council established pursuant to Section 66409. As used in this section, “platform” means the California Online Student Access Platform established by this section.

(b) The platform shall accomplish all of the following objectives:

(1) Provide an efficient statewide mechanism for online course providers to offer transferable courses for credit.

(2) Create a pool of approved and transferable online courses for credit through which students seeking to enroll may easily access those courses and related content.

(3) Provide a faculty-led process that places the highest priority on educational quality through which online courses can be subjected to high-quality standards and review.

(4) All the state, the public, students, faculty, and other stakeholders to examine student success rates within the platform.

(c) For purposes of accomplishing all of the objectives of the platform as specified in subdivision (b), the California Open Education Resources Council shall do all of the following:


(A) Develop a list of the 50 most impacted lower division courses at the University of California, the California State University, and the California Community Colleges that are deemed necessary for program completion or fulfilling transfer requirements, or deemed satisfactory for meeting general education requirements.

(B) For purposes of this paragraph, “impacted lower division course” means a course in which, during most academic terms, the number of students seeking to enroll in the core exceeds the number spaces [sic] available in the course.

(2) Create and administer a standardized review and approval process for online courses in which most or all course instruction is delivered online and is open to any interested person. When reviewing online courses for purposes of this section, the council shall, at minimum consider the extent to which each course does any of the following:

(A) Provides students with instructional support and related services to promote retention and success.

(B) Provides students with interaction with instructors and other students.

(C) Contains a proctored student assessment and examination process that ensures academic integrity and satisfactorily measures student learning.

(D) Provides a student with an opportunity to assess the extent to which he or she is suited for online learning prior to enrolling.

(E) Utilizes, as the primary course text or as a wholly acceptable alternative, content, where it exists, from the California Digital Open Source Library established pursuant to Section 66408.

(F) Includes adaptive learning technology systems or comparable technologies that can provide significant improvement in the learning of students.

(G) Includes content that has been reviewed and recommended by the American Council on Education.

(3) Regularly solidity and consider from each of the respective statewide student associates of the University of California, the California State University and the California Community Colleges, advice and guidance on implementation of the platform.

(4) Collect, review, and make public data and other information related to student success within the platform by gathering and reporting data on accepted student success metrics, including, but not necessarily limited to student enrollment in approved online courses through the platform, and student retention and completion rates.

(5) Utilize the state’s current common course numbering system for approved courses so as to simplify the identification and articulation of comparable courses.

(d) Online courses approved by the the California Open Education Resources Council pursuant to this section shall be plead in the California Student Access Course Pool, which is hereby created, through which students may access the courses. Students taking an online course available in the California Student Access Course Pool and achieving ga passing score on the course examination shall be awarded full academic credit for the comparable course at the University of California, the California State University and the California Community Colleges.

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About Phil Hill

Phil is a consultant and industry analyst covering the educational technology market primarily for higher education. He has written for e-Literate since Aug 2011. For a more complete biography, view his profile page.
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15 Responses to California SB 520 – Text of Proposed Draft Bill for Online Education Platform

  1. Pingback: Proposed California Legislation for Statewide Online Education Courses - The Basics |e-Literate

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  4. Chad Fulton says:

    Is there a requirement for these learning environments to be accessible to all students such as those who require screen readers, video captions, voice recognition, etc.? I apologize if I missed it, but didn’t see this mentioned.

  5. There isn’t much detail to the bill at the moment, but I imagine that there will be accessibility requirements.

  6. Phil Hill says:

    I agree that there will be. California, particularly the CalState system, has been a leader in accessibility requirements.

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  10. John C. Wilhelmsson says:

    Remember that when the Nazis led the people into the gas chamber they told them that it was a refreshing shower after a long train ride. Do not be fooled! This sweet sounding bill is the gas chamber of good education in California. Once we are in the questions will be pointless. As the pellets drop we will realize we should have questioned things sooner.

  11. Phil Hill says:

    John – can I assume that this sentiment is the rationale behind the open letter to Harvard / Sandel on the edX MOOC? I know the SB520 is not directly tied to the letter (edX course in question is a SJSU initiative, not a systemwide or state initiative), but am guessing that these are two sides of the same coin from your perspective.

  12. John, one other issue. There is no need to resort to not only Nazi references, but Nazi references designed to manipulate painful emotions as you have done. I understand you fear the result of this bill, but try and keep your comments at a professional level.

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