As mentioned in previous Rostrum articles and the ASCCC paper Equivalence to the Minimum Qualifications (2016),  colleges should recognize that faculty applicants may prepare in various ways for employment and may meet qualifications in different ways depending on their disciplines. As a result, colleges should have means of considering qualification through equivalence.
Rostrum articles titled “Building a Deeper Career Education Candidate Pool – Using Faculty Equivalency Processes More Effectively” (October 2017)  and “Looking at Equivalency Differently: Rethinking Equivalency to General Education” (October 2018)  spoke of work being done between the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) and system stakeholders, including CEOs and HR professionals, as part of the Chancellor’s Office CTE Minimum Qualifications Work Group. The prior articles described use of effective practices as well as the general education equivalency examples that were under development as part of the CTE Minimum Qualifications Toolkit. At conferences and regional events throughout 2017-2018 and 2018-2019, Chancellor’s Office and ASCCC representatives encouraged use of the toolkit once it was finished. That time has now come. Academic senates, equivalency committees, human resources offices, and even potential candidates can now access the resource that is the CTE Minimum Qualifications Toolkit.
Faculty delegates to ASCCC plenary sessions have requested equivalency-related resources. On more than one occasion, delegates passed resolutions asking that ASCCC “present proposed guidelines for locally establishing standards with suitable criteria for determining equivalencies, including model practices” (10.11 Spring 2011) and “develop and disseminate resources that empower local senates to evaluate and assess, more effectively and with greater flexibility, the qualifications of applicants for faculty positions who have significant professional experience in the field but who have not completed formal academic work in the discipline and/or in general education” (10.05 Fall 2017). The CTE Minimum Qualifications Toolkit is a response to these resolutions as well as a response to recommendation 13.b. of the Strong Workforce Taskforce recommendations: “Disseminate effective practices in the recruitment and hiring of diverse faculty and the application of minimum qualifications and equivalencies.”
The toolkit is intended to assist local academic senates, discipline faculty, and equivalency committees in screening for minimum qualifications for potential career technical education faculty and in the use of equivalency processes to determine suitability for employment at community colleges. The purpose of the toolkit is to maximize the flexibility currently allowed in the use of equivalency to create deep, diverse, and qualified pools of industry expert candidates for our career technical education programs.
Minimum qualifications for faculty are essential for promoting professionalism, integrity of instruction, and rigor within each discipline. Locally developed processes that provide a mechanism for an individual to meet minimum qualifications through equivalency ensure the opportunity to hire industry experts who meet the needs of the ever-changing career technical education programs and emerging disciplines. As California community colleges continue the task of meeting future workforce needs, all colleges should have a consistent application of the equivalency processes for minimum qualifications for CTE faculty.
Equivalency is the process that supports local hiring committees to consider faculty applicants whose possession of minimum qualifications for a discipline as defined by the Minimum Qualifications for Faculty and Administrators in California Community Colleges 2019 Handbook—also known as “The Disciplines List”—may be in question or is uncertain.4 This option is especially relevant to applicants for faculty positions in career technical education, many of whom are experts in their fields but do not possess traditional academic credentials.
Education Code §§ 87359 and 87360 establish that individuals who do not possess the minimum qualifications for service may be hired as faculty members if they possess “qualifications that are at least equivalent to the minimum qualifications.” The Disciplines List, a Board of Governors’ adopted list of minimum qualifications for hiring faculty, uses the term “equivalency” to describe processes to support this regulation. When charged with determining faculty minimum qualifications, equivalency committee members and other stakeholders can refer to the Disciplines List.
The CTE Minimum Qualifications Toolkit is a practical guide for academic senates and equivalency committees, with the support of Human Resource professionals, to use in helping include industry experts into hiring pools and ultimately into classrooms in order to provide their industry expertise to California community college students. The toolkit is intended to provide specific tools with a specific function to assist campus professionals in improving and facilitating effective equivalency practices at colleges.
The toolkit includes information targeted at specific groups of people involved in faculty hiring—presidents and chancellors, chief instructional officers, CTE deans, and CTE department chairs, and faculty—to reinforce the importance of effective equivalency practices in faculty hiring within each specific group. In addition, checklists are provided to help pre-planning equivalency within departments, equivalency from an HR perspective, and equivalency practices from the equivalency committee perspective.
The “Equivalency Tools” section includes recommended policies, committee make-up, processes, and practices for equivalency committees. While human resources offices routinely handle hiring for all employees and, specific to faculty qualifications, may determine when a faculty member clearly meets the minimum qualifications as listed in the Disciplines List, any recommendation regarding qualification by way of equivalency should be made by faculty. Faculty and human resources personnel must work together to ensure that an efficient, transparent, and thorough process is followed when considering equivalency cases for CTE faculty minimum qualifications. While equivalency discussions and recommendations may be difficult because of the subjectivity of equivalency, having clear policies, processes, and practices is important in consistently considering minimum qualifications through equivalency as well as for justifying any equivalency recommendations.
The “General Education Equivalency Examples” section is the part of the toolkit that is newest to the conversation. The most challenging aspect of most equivalency considerations when a faculty applicant does not have an associate’s degree or even coursework that could be considered equivalent is determining what is equivalent to the general education elements of an associate’s degree. If an applicant is an industry expert with at least the six years of professional experience required for minimum qualifications in most CTE disciplines, he or she is usually considered to have plenty of preparation in the specific discipline. The challenge in determining equivalency is most often centered around how to determine whether or not the applicant has workplace training and experiences that are at least equivalent to the outcomes of required general education coursework and competencies.
The “General Education Equivalency Examples” section breaks apart the eighteen general education units and English, math, and reading competencies required for an associate’s degree and offers suggestions for what might be required to meet each general education area requirement. The examples provide a few alternatives to coursework that may be considered equivalent for specific disciplines. These examples are intended to encourage conversation about what is possible through industry and community training or experiences. The worksheet that precedes the examples in the toolkit is a sample for how an equivalency committee can document the recommendations made; a worksheet like the one in the toolkit can then be included in personnel files as evidence in case of audit or for accreditation.
The remainder of the toolkit includes specific information about eminence, apprenticeship qualifications, credit for prior learning, and faculty internships. While these areas are not critical for equivalency discussions or deliberations, faculty leaders and administrators should understand all of the ways in which faculty may be qualified or prepared to teach in California community colleges.
The CTE Minimum Qualifications Toolkit is now a resource available to faculty, human resources professionals, equivalency committees, and applicants. Academic senates are encouraged to review the practices and examples in the toolkit and to review local policies, processes, and practices to ensure that equivalency processes are clear to all involved, that they are considered consistently across disciplines, that equivalency recommendations are properly documented and that the documentation is retained, and that discipline faculty are included in equivalency conversations, particularly when industry training and experience is considered for equivalency to general education course outcomes. These considerations are all important as senates examine local practice.
If academic senate leaders would like support in reviewing local practice, facilitating dialogue around equivalency processes, or implementing practices recommended in the CTE Minimum Qualifications Toolkit, the ASCCC is available for technical visits at no cost to the college. The first step is to determine the local college need and then to have the local academic senate president complete a request for service form online, available at https://www.asccc.org/contact/request-services. Individuals completing the form should be certain to indicate that the visit is requested for equivalency purposes.
1. The paper is available at https://www.asccc.org/sites/default/files/equivalency_paper.pdf
4. The handbook may be found at https://www.cccco.edu/-/media/CCCCO-Website/About-Us/Reports/Files/CCCC…