California community college leaders have signed off on major policy changes aimed at boosting graduation and transfer rates in the 112-campus system.

The 22 recommendations will go to the state Legislature for review after the California Community Colleges' governing board unanimously approved the measures on Monday that were made by the state-appointed Student Success Task Force.

Backers believe the proposals, if implemented, will help more students complete degree and certificate programs and transfer to University of California and California State University campuses. That would help reduce the number of dropouts and create a more educated workforce.

"We're really doing all that we can to ensure student success," Chancellor Jack Scott said.

Measures endorsed by the board would:

-- Give priority registration to first-time students and students making progress toward their academic goals.

-- Take priority registration or fee waivers from students who fail to make adequate progress.

-- Require all incoming students to develop education plans shortly after matriculating.

-- Have campuses give priority to courses needed for degree and certificate programs over enrichment courses catering to older adults.

-- Require campuses to keep scorecards to track completion and transfer rates of students of different backgrounds.

Some of the recommendations merely encourage campuses to adopt best practices.

Officials say the changes are needed because the cash-strapped state has cut funding to community colleges by 14 percent during the past three years, which has forced campuses to raise tuition and turn away tens of thousands of students.

"Now that the money has become scarce, we have got to prioritize," Scott said. "The state has already forced us to ration courses. If we're going to ration education, how should we do it intelligently?"

Critics say the reform plan will move the community college system away from its tradition of offering nearly universal access to higher education. Some worry the changes could hurt disadvantaged students who face greater obstacles to academic success.

Ed Murray, an instructor at City College of San Francisco, urged the board to oppose the recommendations, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Don't cut out the poorest of our society. Where are they going to go if they can't go to community college?" Murray asked.