It should also be noted that, along with an inability to track progress within individual institutions, there is no comparability to college mathematics coding between institutions. For instance, colleges have differing ideas about what courses are basic skills and what are degree applicable.
A Potential Solution: CB 21 Coding Rubrics
Once the problem was discovered, the same Basic Skills Initiative faculty, researchers and administrators who solved the mystery began to talk about how to fix it. Some suggested letting the Chancellor’s Office correct these inaccuracies. But the problem with that solution was that the hard working folk in Sacramento are far removed from the curriculum. How would they know how to code things? Only some courses indicate the level with numbering in the title; many others do not. In addition, how would the Chancellor’s Office be able to interpret course names such as “Spelling and Phonetics of American English 2”? Is this an ESL, English or reading course? So the correction of coding must depend on local recoding solutions rather than a centralized recoding process at a state office.
But how could such a process be organized? Enter the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. Under the auspices of the Basic Skills Initiative, it conceived a project to provide information about the curriculum content in each level of a basic skills sequence. If colleges had more information, they could code their courses based upon curricular content, thereby providing more valid data for the ARCC report. Faculty who had experience using rubrics to grade student work and also for assessing student learning outcomes suggested using that technique as a way to describe the skill needed at every level below transfer. Discipline experts could create rubrics for every credit course in English, Reading, Mathematics and ESL. These rubrics would define the skills that each course taught in general, but not comprehensively. This was in recognition of the local needs of each of California’s 110 community college campuses.
A group of 140 faculty from 56 California Community Colleges gathered to tackle the task. First, they learned about the collection of basic skills data and the MIS coding. The Vice Chancellor of TRIS (Technology, Research, and Information Systems), Patrick Perry, and the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Carole Bogue-Feinour, explained the difficulties with these codes and the impact on the colleges as a result of the inaccurate data.
Then, faculty were provided background information collected through research by discipline experts about discipline specific content (the final appendix in this chapter has links to each of these professional groups and descriptions of their expertise.). Faculty reviewed the ICAS (Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates) competencies and the IMPAC (Intersegmental Major Preparation Articulated Curriculum) documents in order to determine the entry and college level skills already defined and agreed upon California across the public colleges. Existing standards were reviewed for California, such as CATESOL’s California Pathway
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