No guarantee

From our colleagues at PAC AAUP, posted with permission:

It’s never fun having to tell someone, “We told you so!” But a report from the Community College Research Center at Columbia University, whose senior researcher presented to the Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees, unbeknownst to faculty, confirms what Alamo Colleges faculty have been telling the District ALL ALONG! (Should Community College Students Earn an Associate Degree Before Transferring to a Four Year Institution? Crosta and Kopko, April 2014, Working Paper No. 70, CCRC – Teachers College – Columbia University)

Two key findings in the report:

1. AA and AS degrees matter in helping students attain a BA/BS degree. AA/AS completion is likely to have “large, positive apparent impact” on the probability of BA/BS completion. [The report does not mention anything about generic vs discipline majors, only that attaining the AA and AS matters (e.g., Associate in Arts). In fact, the report suggests that the AA and AS degrees are more valuable than workforce oriented associates degrees (i.e., AAS degrees).]

2. Transferability of the AA/AS courses is important to students because they save money. [No kidding. We’ve been working with area colleges for MANY years in order to optimize transferability of courses. We’re very cognizant of this point.]

Here’s the important footnote (on page 9; emphasis added):

“There is NO GUARANTEE, however, that transfer credits will count as anything other than general electives, and so students may have to repeat courses at the four-year college in order to satisfy requirements for specific majors.”

Bingo! This is precisely what faculty (and faculty senates) across the Alamo Colleges have been saying all along.

To repeat:

“There is NO GUARANTEEā€¦that transfer credits will count as anything other than general electives, and so students MAY HAVE TO REPEAT COURSES at the four year college in order to satisfy requirements for specific majors.” In other words, the community colleges have no control over the transferability of courses in specific majors.

Here is the full report:

Should Community College Students Earn an Associate Degree Before Transferring to a Four Year Institution? Crosta and Kopko, April 2014, Working Paper No. 70, CCRC – Teachers College – Columbia University)
http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/media/k2/attachments/associate-degree-before-transfer.pdf

Bottom line:

If District had listened to faculty and students they would have avoided:

a. wasting countless hours of faculty and student time arguing the issue surrounding majors
b. spending money on an outside consultant to inform the Board on what we (faculty) already know
c. losing trust and credibility with most faculty across all colleges
d. immeasurable negative publicity by going against the wishes of our students
e. the risk of being cited by accreditation agencies for encroaching on matters that should be dealt with at the college level.

Conclusion:

The staggering growth of District salaries and its efforts to centralize decision-making has only proven to weaken the colleges and impede student success. It’s hard to find evidence to the contrary.

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