Implementing Content Review for Communication and Computation Prerequisites

Spring
2011
Topic: 
Curriculum
Committee: 
Curriculum Committee

This paper is one of a collection of papers written by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) to support the use of content review as the basis for establishing communication and computation prerequisites. Student Success: The Case for Establishing Prerequisites Through Content Review was adopted at the Fall 2010 Academic Senate Plenary Session and provides the rationale for recommending a Title 5 change that would permit the use of content review as the primary means of validating communication and computation prerequisites. This paper serves as a follow-up to the earlier one, providing guidance for local colleges that wish to move from statistical validation of prerequisites to reliance on content review. While content review has always been a required component of the process of assessing the skills needed for student success in a given course, the use of content review absent statistical validation will require a review and possible modification of existing content review processes to ensure the necessary rigor. A third paper on the use of multiple measures, a component of the assessment for placement process is also planned. Any change in local prerequisite practices that increases the use of communication and computation prerequisites will require planning to ensure that resources are allocated to meet any increased demand for assessment and counseling services and basic skills course offerings. This paper provides not only an overview of effective practices relating to content review, but also suggestions regarding more global considerations. Because the use of prerequisites will likely increase in the future as reliance on content review as the means of validating prerequisites becomes more common, planning to minimize negative unintended consequences is critical. Assuring students on-going access to courses for which they are prepared must be a primary consideration as changes are made to further student success through the appropriate use of prerequisites.

Recommendations: 
  • Local senates should review the current status of district policy and procedure regarding theestablishment of prerequisites.
  • Local senates should consider making a presentation to the local board of trustees to explain the opportunity to improve student success implicit in the revised Title 5 regulations relating to the establishment of prerequisites.
  • Local senates should determine the role to be played by the senate and the curriculum committee in establishing a college plan for modifying local practices with respect to prerequisites, especially if clear delegation of duties to the curriculum committee is not already in place.
  • The discipline faculty should work with the college research office to explore and evaluate areas of the curriculum with anomalous rates of student retention and success.
  • The academic senate should begin conversations with the individuals or committees charged with overseeing enrollment management and play an active role in ensuring that adjustments in course offerings are made such that student access is preserved; the implementation of new prerequisites will likely require a compensatory increase in basic skills sections.