Excerpt from the Executive Director’s report to the Board of Directors on August 26, 2006.
VP for Community Colleges, John Morton has sent a proposal that would change the Faculty Classification Plan for the Community Colleges. The proposal had been forwarded to UHPA for formal consultation, and I met with VP Morton to discuss the proposal. I believe that initially, the administration had hoped to have the proposal approved by the Board of Regents over the summer. The proposed changes in the language are very disturbing and are directly tied to the use of the “Student Learning Outcome” (SLO) in the evaluation of faculty. This effort began in 2000 with changes in the ACCJC_Ñés criteria for accreditation. The community college chancellors have been interpreting these criteria to require that each faculty member should provide “measurable student learning outcomes for their courses and programs” under the assertion of “an institutional culture of evidence.” (Whatever that might mean?)
In testimony before the Board of Regents, I questioned both the summary of campus self-studies for these fall accreditation visits, that are replete with the SLO references, and the proposed changes to the Faculty Classification Plan that goes hand-in-hand with meeting these accreditation standards. I informed the regents that the issue of the SLO was not as simple or straightforward as it may appear. This issue is one where both the faculty senates and the union have specific responsibilities in representing the interests of the faculty-at-large. Faculty senates should be the bodies appointing the members of the self-study committees that prepare accreditation reports, not the administration, and the senates should approve or not approve the appropriate use of the SLO in evaluating programs. From the perspective of the union, the evaluation of a faculty member’s performance through the use of the SLO represents a substantial shift in responsibility for learning away from the student and onto the faculty member. The faculty member has a duty to present instruction in a manner consistent with professional standards in the classroom, and the student must also participate in meeting the expectations of the course of study.
The California community college senates have debated the relationship between the SLO and individual performance evaluation http://www.academicsenate.cc.ca.us/Publications/Papers/AccreditationStandards.html taking great exception to the ACCJC standards. Even the Executive Director of the ACCJC, Barbara Beno has written “The accreditors’ concern with assessment of student learning is not meant to target individual faculty members, but to stimulate institution-wide engagement with student learning and institutional-wide improvement in learning.” (ë_The Role of Student Learning Outcomes in Accreditation Quality Review, New Directions for Community Colleges, no. 126, Summer 2004, Wiley Periodicals, Inc., p. 69)