As part of my training to take over the Equivalency Committee on our local campus, the outgoing chair mysteriously cautioned me, “You see, the thing about the Equivalency Committee is that everything is fine—until it isn’t.” At the time, I did not appreciate or even understand her warning, but now, with a few years under my belt, I appreciate the veracity of her observations.
Minimum qualifications are often at the center of diverse and sometimes contentious topics at local colleges, such as assigning faculty service areas (FSAs), the placement of courses within disciplines, assigning TOP codes, and even the taboo practice of granting single-course equivalencies. Ideally, the understanding and application of minimum qualifications at local colleges should be an independent and consistent process, but the reality is that minimum qualifications are too often conflated with other local issues.
The desire to reduce the costs of course materials for students in our colleges has resulted in various parallel efforts to decrease costs and incentivize cost reductions. Pressures to offer courses with no associated text costs have also resulted in concerns among faculty who can’t envision teaching with materials that are free. The various efforts and concerns have resulted in some measure of confusion. What efforts to reduce costs are underway and what legislation may be creating pressure to consider no-cost resources?
Noncredit courses and certificates have been a hot topic of conversation for the last two years, as colleges explore using noncredit for their Adult Education Block Grants (AEBG) and to take advantage of equalized Career Development College Preparation (CDCP) course funding. With nearly 90% of noncredit FTES being generated by less than 10% of our California community colleges in past years, considerations of noncredit implementation and/or expansion is new to a large majority of our colleges.
Educational systems and stakeholders are continually working to improve the courses, programs, and services provided to students and the community. One recent legislated effort is the passage of AB 705 (Irwin, 2017), which requires changes in assessment, placement, and basic skills instruction at California community colleges. However, how best to put the legislated requirements into local practice is not clear for all California community colleges.
More and more high school students enrolled in the California community colleges (CCC) are requesting course credit based upon passing Advanced Placement (AP) Exam scores. In 2006, 2,266,038 students in the United States took an AP Examination with 405,711 of those exams being taken in California. Ten years later, the total number in the United States rose to 4,559,273 with California accounting for 743,280 of those examinations.
“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”
- Henry David Thoreau