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Student Success Task Force Panel at the ASCCC Fall 2011 Plenary

SSTF Recommendations




At their Fall 2011 Plenary meeting, the ASCCC convened a panel of Student Success Task Force members. The panelists included:

Jack Scott

Chancellor of the California Community Colleges


Melinda Nish

President, California Community Colleges Chief Instructional Officers

VP of Instruction, Orange Coast College


Rich Hansen

Math faculty member at De Anza College

President of California Community College Independents (who incidentally issued a very strong response to the SSTF recs)


Constance Carroll

Chancellor of San Diego Community College District


Jane Patton

Past President of the ASCCC


Manuel Baca

CCC Board of Governors

Member of the board of Trustees of Mt San Antonio Community College district

Government faculty member at Rio Hondo College


The panel discussion was quite interesting. Some the major points that the dialog revealed include:


The following are some highlights of the dialog, mainly in the Q&A section. All are keyed to the time of the video so that they can be easily found. They do not cover every question, only those where Fred thought that the dialog was particularly revealing. But listen for yourself.


0:30 Chancellor Jack Scott introduces the SSTF recommendations


5:45 Chancellor Scott provides recognition of how some students get jobs after taking a welding class and leave the college, but emphasizes that a large percentage of students leave after taking 12 units.


6:30 Chancellor Scott explains how this SSTF effort is really in response to a proposed senate bill that would have required completions-based funding. It was a huge success that that bill was morphed into the one that prompted this SSTF.


10:30 Chancellor Scott introduces vice-chancellor Barry Russell  to explain the recommendations. I watched portions of this section of the video, but did not find any of it particularly enlightening.


32:30 Each panelist introduces themselves and says a few words about their perspectives of the recommendations.


33:30 Rich Hansen talks about how some of the critics of the CCCs were actually on the SSTF. I assume that he’s talking about Nancy Shulock, a persistent critic of the CCCs.  He observes that some of those critics mellowed their views on the CCCs as they got to know each other on the task force.  


34:15 Constance Carroll talks about these unprecedented times in CA. California is facing unprecedented economic hardship and rapidly growing diversity of student body-- 40% students of color in the 1980s has increased to 68% students of color today.


35:45 Jane Patton, in a spectacular example of a “politic” response to the SSTF recommendations, answers the question that is on everybody’s mind, i.e., “what were you thinking?” She goes on to claim that the five faculty members on the task force “were not from Mars”, and says that it’s hard to see the good things in the report because of those aspects of the report that are so “offensive, to pretty much everyone.” People couldn’t see the strengths of the report because the “tone of the report was so irritating.” I really urge you to watch this portion of the video. These notes just don’t do it justice.


41:45 Questions begin.


41:45 The first question is about the recommendations directing most resources towards new high school graduates, rather than adults returning to school to get job training, which comprise a large cohort of community college students. How will it benefit CA to push our community learners out of our community colleges?

Chancellor Scott replies and talks about priority registration favoring students other than those who are “avocational learners, such as those who would like to take guitar because they’re an adult who would like to take guitar…” There’s nothing new here—he’s just following the direction of the legislature from two years ago. He claims that public opinion polls support this position.


46:10 Performance-based funding—please explain the apparent contradiction in the recommendations.

Jane Patton: faculty went to task force with opposition to performance-based funding as their number one agenda. Put a lot of effort into it and feel some degree of success. At the 11th hour, the phrase “at this time” was added, and this was very frustrating.

Constance: CEOs are against performance based funding. Not much evidence supporting performance based funding nationally.

Also see next question at about 52:15


50:00 What was the decision making process?

Rich Hansen: It’s not a consensus document. Everybody sitting at the table disagree with parts of it.

Rich goes on to talk about outcomes based funding. Makes the point that the places that have used outcomes-based funding (Washington State, Ohio) have always been more flush with money than CA currently is. The outcomes-based funding was always a small fringe amount of money that they had to play with. It was a small proportion of money compared to the total budget.

53:30 Chancellor Scott reemphasizes that this task force was born out of a common opposition to performance-based funding. The SB 1440 asked that the SSTF consider performance-based funding, so they considered it, and said “No”.


1:05:00 There’s a lot to hold colleges accountable in these recommendations. What about holding students accountable for their own success?

Jane Patton: Actually a number of the recommendations do that. Academic Senate has taken a number of positions in recent years that support this idea; the colleges need to support students so that they know the impact of their decisions and know what to do.


1:08:45 What about the mission? The recommendations change the mission of the colleges. Did the task force discuss that and come to the conclusion that the mission should in fact be changed or was it a change made by “accident”?

Chancellor Scott addresses the life-long learning aspect of the mission by saying it is one of the missions, but it was “a later mission”, and wasn’t mentioned in the master plan. Life-long learning has always been considered a mission, but not a primary mission. “We really feel that CTE, transfer, and basic skills are the primary mission. And we’ve done this by adjusting curriculum.” He goes on to talk about priority registration where “the student who has taken Golf for six straight semesters ought not to be registering ahead of the first-year student”…There seemed to be consensus on the task force about the primary mission.


Manuel Baca: “It’s not about changing the mission; it’s about being real about the mission.”

In general, there doesn’t seem to be much disagreement among the panelists that the primary mission of the community colleges is transfer, CTE, and basic skills, and that a secondary mission is avocational education.


1:15:05 Rich Hansen: “The Chancellor is right; it’s hard to argue that we don’t need to make space for those incoming new freshmen. We need to do that, yet protect the other aspects of our mission. It’s going to take a lot of thought on how to do this. We need to engage in this to produce an outcome we’re happy with.”


1:16:40 How is a centralized professional development system better?

Panel generally backpedals on this one and says that this is not what was intended by the task force.


1:24:00 Jane Patton says that she needs to go to the next meeting saying that we need more time to process all of these recommendations; the field input has been tremendous.