Look Back: On the importance of shared governance

Here’s a quick look back at an issue discussed in May 2011 affecting shared governance, curriculum changes, and student success:

Senators also worried when Paddock announced that a Developmental Education Committee led by Dr. Jo-Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor for academic partnerships and initiatives, cut the minimum entrance Accuplacer scores for math from the current 100 to 85.

The committee is made up of math, English and reading chairs and the vice presidents of academic affairs from the five colleges.

Paddock said Friday that the equivalent score for the THEA placement exam is less than 270. Students will be required to take the $29 test starting in the fall, but the district will still be using Accuplacer for the summer.

These placement scores are like the TAKS, ACT, or SAT in that they reflect students’ skill levels and compares them to what past history has shown to be effective, Paddock said.

Paddock said the justification for lower scores presented was that other community colleges were doing it.

But Paddock said the committee failed in its research because other colleges’ score of 85 places students in college-level math. The district’s score of 85 is for elementary algebra and arithmetic.

Paddock explained that the Accuplacer test has three levels — the lowest, AR, is strictly arithmetic, EAR is for elementary algebra and arithmetic and CLM is for college-level math.

As a result, students who need developmental education will be forwarded into college-level math where they will be even less prepared for the work.

She said around 2006, Palo Alto College opted to lower its score and the success rate dropped from 60 percent to 40 percent. She said faculty from that college “vigorously disagree” with this proposed change.

Paddock sited sections from The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accreditation requirement, which address “the fact that the responsibility for curriculum decisions rest primarily in faculty.”

Shared governance is critical in the college environment. Let faculty be a part of the decision-making process.

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