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Academic Senate Newsletter

Thursday February 9, 2012

Student Success Task Force Update

Dear Local Senate President –

Resolution 13.08 F11 called on the Academic Senate to “…develop a timely response to the recommendations of the California Community Colleges Task Force on Student Success that provides an analysis of the proposed changes and, where appropriate, prioritizes, delineates options, and provides alternatives”. The purpose of this message is to update you on our response to the Student Success Task Force recommendations and the draft bill language that is currently circulating. Prior to the bill language being introduced, the Academic Senate Executive Committee established a list ranking the recommendations in order of their importance as a means of explicitly stating the areas where we believed our resources should initially be focused. This does not, by any means, indicate that any other recommendation is not being tracked and monitored; it merely indicates the areas that we believed to be most important and in need of influence as the recommendations are implemented.

After prioritizing the recommendations, the Senate’s Futures Committee began the process of identifying positions and actions with respect to each recommendation. At the present time, our position document is ready for sharing. While we are already starting some activities related to the recommendations, our finalized plan of action is still being developed.

While the need for funding in order to implement the recommendations is obvious, it is prudent for local senates to consider how they might improve the support provided to and success of all students. Although we are in no way “broken,” it is always healthy to consider how we can do better. With this in mind, we will soon be distributing a survey to find more about what is working well at each of our colleges. It is our hope to initiate a robust discussion of effective practices as they relate to the recommendations. While “best practices” are not the answer, they are certainly something that we all believe in.

We, the faculty, are not alone in asserting that providing students the services they need requires more funding; the Chancellor, his staff, and many legislators have confirmed the need for additional funding if we are to move towards the aspirational goals of the recommendations. This message and the general concern about the potential impact of the implementation of the recommendations on the students that need us most will continue to guide our efforts to shape the implementation of the recommendations.

The Executive Committee ranked recommendations 2.2 (requiring all incoming students to participate in matriculation) and 3.4 (requiring students to begin remediation in their 1st year) as its highest priority. Movement towards implementation of 2.2 is one goal of the draft bill language and 3.4 is best achieved through the gradual implementation of prerequisites, as necessary for student learning and successful course completion. As noted in other communications, colleges are encouraged to move forward with implementing more prerequisites, as well as examining their basic skills offerings to ensure that the curriculum is structured to best serve students.

The other recommendations that rose to the top of the Executive Committee’s list were 2.4 (require students who need it to participate in a support resource), 6.1 (professional development), and 2.1 (common assessment). With respect to “support resources”, we hope to identify unique approaches already used at the colleges for consideration and potential adoption. As a regular provider of many professional development activities, the Academic Senate is discussing a revised and refocused charge, and a new name, for our Faculty Development Committee. Faculty have been involved in CCC Assess, an effort to identify the components of an ideal assessment for placement option, work which is predicted to resume in the near future. While the Academic Senate has not taken a formal position on the proposed incentivized use of a common assessment prior to the adoption of a mandated common assessment, we are advocating for a simplified approach that does not involve multiple stages to the adoption of a common assessment. In other words, it does not make sense for colleges to be encouraged to use an interim “common” assessment prior to the system-wide adoption of a diagnostic assessment.

We are still in the process of reviewing the bill language and have concerns about the speed at which many aspects of the recommendations are moving forward. Our initial review of the bill language reveals that there are many terms and practices in need of clear definition and a need to ensure that students’ goals other than degrees, career technical education certificates, and transfer are supported. There are also components that have been included and really require more study to ensure that there is no negative disproportionate impact.

In order to provide faculty an opportunity to review and discuss the recommendations and the draft bill language, we have scheduled the following Webinars. More will be scheduled as needed. Please also feel free to share your questions, thoughts, and concerns here.



Michelle L. Pilati
President, Academic Senate

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