Noncredit Instruction: Opportunity and Challenge

Spring
2019
Topic: 
Curriculum
Committee: 
Noncredit Committee

Adopted Spring 2009 and Revised Spring 2019

This paper provides information about noncredit instruction in the California Community Colleges and updates the 2009 paper Noncredit Instruction: Opportunity and Challenge to incorporate subsequent changes from the last decade. Since the passage of SB 361 (Scott, 2006), noncredit instruction has seen significant changes, including the equalization of funding for some areas of noncredit instruction, the passage of the Adult Education Block Grant that created adult education consortia including K-12 and community college adult education providers, and the passage of AB 705 (Irwin, 2017) that specifically encouraged colleges to use noncredit courses to support the needs of credit students. Despite noncredit’s long history in the community colleges, a limited number of robust noncredit programs currently exist, and many colleges may be looking to or are beginning to offer noncredit courses for the first time. This paper is intended to provide information about noncredit instruction that will be useful to individuals with varying backgrounds and experience with noncredit and to provide recommendations that will help noncredit continue to serve the needs of diverse student populations.

Noncredit students pay no enrollment fees and normally receive no college credit. Noncredit courses are nevertheless funded entirely by state apportionment, with different rates of apportionment depending on the area of noncredit instruction. The landscape for noncredit instruction has evolved dramatically since the publication of the original version of this paper in 2009. In passing SB 361 (Scott, 2006), the California Legislature created a two-tier funding system that would eventually lead to certain areas of noncredit instruction being funded at the same rate as credit instruction. Additionally, noncredit programs are essential in the transformation of adult education that began with the passage of AB 86 (Assembly Committee on Budgets, 2013), have been an essential provider of vocational training, were specifically included in recommendations created by the Taskforce on Workforce and a Strong Economy in 2015, and were specifically mentioned in AB 705 (Irwin, 2017) to address the remediation needs of credit students.

The increasing interest in noncredit programs shown by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, the California Legislature, and other professionals is not a coincidence. Several studies have focused on changing student demographics and the need to increase the number of skilled workers to meet the needs of the California economy. This paper will describe several legislative and policy developments to explain the link between noncredit history and current hopes for improved student success through enhanced funding, staffing, and academic integrity of noncredit programs.

The ASCCC has an established history of advocating for the continued development and expansion of noncredit programs to support the needs of students. To help facilitate that expansion and ensure the offering of high quality programs, the Academic Senate has advocated for equalized funding with credit (Resolution 9.02 Fall 2011), inclusion of noncredit faculty in the Faculty Obligation Number and the development of an equivalent to the 75/25 ratio goal for noncredit instruction (Resolution 7.01 Fall 2018 and Resolution 7.01 Fall 2014), equalization of statewide processes for credit and noncredit curriculum (Resolution 9.02 Fall 2018), more accurate noncredit outcomes and the design of metrics that accurately represent the quality of noncredit programs (Resolution 14.02 Fall 2014, Resolution 13.01 Spring 2012, and Resolution 9.01 Fall 2009), and recognition that noncredit instruction meets the needs of a wide range of students (Resolution 7.03 Spring 2018, Resolution 17.01 Spring 2018, Resolution 9.07 Spring 2016 and Resolution 13.02 Fall 2011). Considerable progress has been made in some of these areas, but ongoing uncertainty remains about whether noncredit programs will be given the support necessary to allow them to flourish. Continued advocacy is vital to ensure that the progress that noncredit has experienced in the last ten years continues and that noncredit programs continue to evolve and serve the changing needs of students.

Recommendations: 

The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges makes or restates the following recommendations for changes to support the continued growth and success of noncredit programs.

Recommendations to the Board of Governors

  1. The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges should work with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to revise regulations and the Student Attendance Accounting Manual to provide noncredit attendance accounting options in addition to positive attendance in a manner similar to those available for credit courses.
  2. The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges should work with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and system partners to develop noncredit measures for the Student Centered Funding Formula in order to ensure that noncredit students are included in the access and equity metrics.
  3. The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges should work with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to establish both interim and final goals for a noncredit full-time to part-time faculty ratio, perhaps by amending regulations to mandate that a portion of any additional noncredit funds be used to hire additional full-time noncredit faculty.
  4. The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges should work with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to investigate and address calendar issues impacting noncredit faculty.
  5. The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges should work with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, through the California Community Colleges Curriculum Committee, to shift the approval of noncredit curriculum from the Chancellor’s Office to local curriculum committees, academic senates, and governing boards.
  6. The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges should work with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to ensure that noncredit student support services continue to be funded adequately and that noncredit-specific outcomes are developed to ensure that noncredit services are properly funded.
  7. The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges should work with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to modify regulations and the Student Attendance Accounting Manual to ensure that noncredit online courses are funded at the same rate as those offered by the California Online Community College.
  8. The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges should investigate the alignment of ACS WASC and ACCJC expectations for noncredit programs to ensure effective inclusion and integration of noncredit programs into each college’s accreditation work, including the identification of institutional goals, improvement plans, and the quality focus essay, whether the noncredit programs are organizationally part of a college or are a separate institution within a district.
  9. The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges should work with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, constituency groups, and local colleges to ensure that the data being submitted to the Chancellor’s Office Management Information System accurately reflects the progress and outcomes of noncredit students and that newly developed metrics provide accurate information to colleges, the legislature, and members of the public.

Recommendations to Colleges

  1. Colleges should ensure that their noncredit programs receive effective inclusion in their Institutional Self Evaluation Reports, preferably in ways that promote integration with other programs including the transition of noncredit students into the college’s credit offerings.
  2. Colleges should collect and report accurate data on student progress and success at the course and program level and should explore developing transcripts for their noncredit student populations.
  3. Colleges should use noncredit matriculation Student Equity and Achievement Program funds to provide noncredit students with counseling and other services equivalent to those provided to credit students.
  4. Local academic senates should work with their bargaining units to ensure that the workloads of full-time noncredit faculty include institutional service and that bargaining agreements and college policy provide the ability for noncredit faculty to participate in a manner comparable to credit faculty.
  5. Local academic senates should encourage the inclusion of noncredit faculty in collegial governance to ensure that the noncredit voice is fully engaged in participatory governance processes.
  6. Local academic senates and bargaining units should collaborate to ensure that equitable working conditions for noncredit faculty are used to provide quality programs and services to noncredit students.