Senate Bill 607 statutory changes for ability-to-benefit students


The Legislature recently enacted legislation that will repeal Education Code section 94904,
which required students without a high school diploma or the equivalent to successfully
complete an examination prior to executing an enrollment agreement, and will amend section
94909 to eliminate the need to include specific admissions requirements for these students in
school catalogs. The legislation will also repeal section 94811, which defined these students as
“ability-to-benefit” (ATB) students.
These changes will permit students without a high school diploma or the equivalent to enroll in
private postsecondary institutions without having to complete the admissions prerequisite of
passing an alternate entrance examination. As a result of the changes, which will go into effect
on January 1, 2022, a student who is otherwise qualified and has a reasonable prospect of
completing an instructional program, but lacks a high school diploma or the equivalent, will no
longer have to pass an “ability-to-benefit” examination in order to enroll in the
program. However, schools must still establish general student admission standards for all
students enrolling in each program, as provided in California Code of Regulations, title 5,
section 71770(a), which states that, “[t]he institution shall establish specific written standards
for student admissions for each educational program. These standards shall be related to the
particular educational program. An institution shall not admit any student who is obviously
unqualified or who does not appear to have a reasonable prospect of completing the program.”