Celebrating and Coping with the Title 5 Changes of 2007

System Advisory Committee on Curriculum

Hopefully "coping" is the wrong word-but that's sort of what this is all about. Over the past few years, the Academic Senate has passed resolutions asking for changes to be made to Title 5 and, consequently, changes have been in the works. For the insomniacs amongst us and those with a desire to know the gory details, please go to http://www.cccco.edu/divisions/legal/notices/attachments/FINAL%20as%20f… for the complete text of what was formally adopted in August 2007.

The goal here is not to rehash all that is contained in this text, but to focus on the significant changes being made to the associate degree, challenges that might emerge as colleges seek to make the required changes to their degrees (and by extension, certificates), and what assistance has been proposed or will be provided.

Title 5 55063 Minimum Requirements for the Associate Degree is where we find those changes that have been discussed the most, among them the raising of the mathematics and English requirements for graduation. That particular requirement will be effective as of Fall 2009. As this has been discussed for so long, hopefully you are already in process of making the necessary changes.

The other issue with respect to the degree is more complicated. While there has always been a requirement that the degree consists of general education AND a "major", there was a time when degrees that lacked a "major" were approved by the Chancellor's Office in error, due to a misinterpretation of Title 5. While no language was added to Title 5 in this revision to make explicit that a misinterpretation of Title 5 had resulted in the approval of non-compliant degrees, the Chancellor's Office is formally asserting that "GE compilation" degrees are out of compliance.

Colleges should be considering how to move forward with ensuring that their offerings are compliant.

This probably means converting non-compliant general education degrees to certificates and considering the development of new "majors." What is permissible? The following is an excerpt from a draft of a document developed by members of the System Advisory Committee on Curriculum (SACC) and provides a general overview of what is now allowed:

Permissible degrees might consist of courses in related fields intended to prepare the student with an understanding of a discipline, such as a psychology degree that consists of just two psychology courses and additional foundational courses in philosophy, biology, and statistics. A degree might have a broad area of emphasis, such as "social sciences", or a theme-based area of emphasis that consists of an interdisciplinary grouping of courses, such as "American Studies", "International Business", or "Multicultural Education". Such degrees must consist of a cohesive packaging of courses, with the intent of such degrees clearly expressed, following the guidelines that will be provided in the revised Program and Course Approval Handbook.

Even as the door was closed on GE compilation degrees, the definition of a "major" was broadened to allow some local flexibility in designing majors and "areas of emphasis." As always, those "majors" that are consistent with the requirements of our transfer institutions are permitted-this is explicitly stated in Title 5.

But the notion of an "area of emphasis" is intended to permit faculty to develop degrees that make academic sense but do not align with the requirements of a specific major.

This is, effectively, a "loosening" of the requirements for that major/area of emphasis component of a degree. So, while the general education compilation degree is no more, your options for that major/area of emphasis have been expanded.

This expansion of what a "major" can be is one that should be viewed as an opportunity-an opportunity for community college faculty to develop offerings that are meaningful and relevant to their students. And to "package" courses together that are a cohesive unit-even if they are offered by very different disciplines. What a great opportunity for the development of interdisciplinary degrees that can enrich the experience of students-and increase intra-campus dialogue.

In addition, Title 5 language now clearly permits CERTIFICATES to consist of nothing but general education-so, noncompliant degrees can be "converted" to certificates (more about this below). And here is where help is to be provided-for a limited time only, there is a streamlined process for "converting" degrees to certificates and for adding a "major" to noncompliant degrees. Hopefully, your college is taking advantage of this opportunity. One issue that may emerge locally is who this task falls to-who "owns" your catch-all degree? Hopefully your local processes will address the issue without any such need to make such determinations.

Note that per other sections of Title 5, we are required to move quickly to make any needed changes. A system-wide reminder was sent out on October 31, 2007 to this effect. Here is an excerpt of the memo that establishes a firm "due date" for modifying your non-compliant degrees, "Title 5 52010 establishes a timeline of 180 days after the effective date, which will be February 12, 2008, for the revision of written district policies or procedures regarding the associate degree. It also requires that necessary changes be made to the next college catalog and class schedules. This is interpreted to mean the catalog that covers Fall 2008 and class schedules that are printed after February 12, 2008." While this may sound unreasonable, documented movement towards addressing the noncompliant degree issue will suffice for the near future.

There is an additional change to degrees that is most important-the student must have a minimum grade of C in each course in the "major".

Title 5 55070 Credit Certificates is one of those sections that may catch many unawares. As has always been the case, only those certificates that have been granted approval by the Chancellor's Office can be transcripted (this should merely be a reminder, not an "OMG!"). This section now states that completion of the general education requirements for a transfer institution can lead to an award of a certificate and indicates that such certificates (those that have Chancellor's Office approval) are designated "certificates of achievement". As a consequence of this section, and others relating to noncredit certificates, you may need to change the titles of some of your certificates.

Certificates of 18 or more semester units that are already approved do not need to be re-submitted again for approval by the System Office, but they must all be called certificates of achievement.

As always, you can have a "local" credit certificate that is less than 18 units, but you can't call it a certificate of achievement (reserved for those credit certificates that have been approved by the Chancellor's Office), a certificate of completion (one type of noncredit certificate), or a certificate of competency (another type of noncredit certificate). If you do have certificates between 12 and 17.5 units that you wish to call certificates of achievement and have designated on the transcript, these can be submitted to the Chancellor's Office for approval-using the same forms as are used for larger certificates. Please note that "Provisions of this section regarding the naming or designation of certificates shall become effective for the Fall 2008 term." Current students will, of course, maintain they catalog rights-but districts need to clean up their catalogs immediately.

To finish up, here's a short checklist to provide an overview of what needs to be done.

  • Raise your English and mathematics graduation requirements, if needed. New requirements apply to students entering with the Fall 2009 catalog year.
  • Convert non-compliant degrees to certificates and/or add a "major"/"area of emphasis" to such degrees. These changes need to be in-process as soon as possible.
  • Stipulate that all courses taken for the "major"/"area of emphasis" component of any degree must be passed with a minimum grade of C (an average grade of C is not sufficient; effective Fall 2009).
  • Review your certificates and ensure that your terminology does not violate 55070, where the use of "certificate of achievement" is limited to those certificates that have been approved by the Chancellor's Office, and other sections that limit the use of "certificate of completion" and "certificate of competency" to noncredit certificates. These fixes need to be made for the Fall 2008 catalog year.