Faculty Evaluations – The SLOAC Debate Continues

April
2012
Katie Townsend-Merino, Accreditation Committee Member
Richard Mahon, Accreditation Committee Member

This year, for the first time, the Academic Senate’s Accreditation Institute was co-sponsored by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), which collaborated with the Senate on the development and implementation of the institute. This collaboration with the ACCJC led to an increased understanding of the federal government pressures faced by the ACCJC and, in turn, a deeper understanding by the ACCJC of the value of faculty-led accreditation initiatives. Faculty, staff, and administrative attendees noted that the specific examples of procedures and processes were among the most helpful aspects of the institute. In an effort to support faculty working to earn and maintain accreditation, the Academic Senate will continue to offer examples of effective practices to the field concerning issues of accreditation.

Several informal conversations considered the multiple ways colleges can meet Accreditation Standard III.A.1.c. This standard states, “Faculty and others directly responsible for student programs toward achieving stated student learning outcomes have, as a component of their evaluation, effectiveness in producing those student learning outcomes.” Faculty in both the instructional and student service areas are rightly concerned with many issues in implementing this standard. Some of the questions we heard were the following: what evidence is necessary to show “effectiveness in producing those student learning outcomes”? Does this mean faculty are being evaluated on how well their students achieve the student learning outcomes (SLOs)? Or does this mean that faculty will have their meaningful participation in the SLO assessment process evaluated? In addition, faculty have expressed trepidation about visiting teams who have focused on a particularly narrow interpretation of the standard--that faculty will be evaluated on whether their students achieve SLOs. These questions have had the effect of dividing colleges and impeding progress toward meeting the standards established by our regional accreditor, the ACCJC.

The Academic Senate has opposed using student learning outcomes in faculty evaluations and in Fall 2008 passed Resolution 02.01 “Opposition to using SLOs in Faculty Evaluations,” which states,

Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges work with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to clarify the intent of standard III.A.1.c in order to resolve the conflicting messages being delivered by various visiting teams;

Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges affirm its opposition to including the attainment of student learning outcomes as an aspect of individual faculty evaluations; and

Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges work with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges and with other concerned statewide faculty organizations to ensure that accreditation recommendations do not use student learning outcomes in any manner that would undermine either local bargaining authority or the academic freedom of individual faculty members.

The Senate has not changed its position from this adopted resolution and continues to emphasize the belief that the evaluation of a faculty member must be independent of students’ attainment of SLOs. In order to help colleges maintain and defend this position locally, this article offers specific examples of language from several colleges that have met Standard III.A.1.c. and have been reaffirmed by the ACCJC. In addition, several colleges, rather than embedding faculty participation in the SLO assessment process in contract language per se, are embedding such participation into their tenure and peer evaluation procedures, which are jointly approved by the local senate and bargaining unit. While the Academic Senate recognizes considerable value in this method, we are currently unaware of any college that has been reaffirmed using evaluations embedded in procedures.

The examples that follow are only a few among many possibilities of contract language and procedures or processes that can be offered. As faculty we fought hard to keep the assessment process in our own hands, arguing that we are the ones who know best what students should be learning in our classes and in our programs and the only ones who know best how that learning can be assessed. We establish our own outcomes and assessments; ACCJC has signaled its desire to see our “good faith effort” in engaging in this work rather than our “minimal effort.” The Commission wants to see the evidence of change we are making to our classes, programs, and service areas to improve student learning, particularly given the increasing diversity of our students and the dynamic quality of good teaching It is the evaluation of faculty’s good faith effort in the SLO assessment process that is being placed in contract or procedural language; we are decidedly not being evaluated on our own students’ performance on those outcomes.

What does the ACCJC say about these examples? The Commission is consistently unwilling to endorse any specific activities, processes, procedures, or documentation. There is no single right way to meet the standards. We do know that the colleges who have used the language provided below have earned the accreditation “stamp of approval.” The Academic Senate urges local senates and bargaining agents to work together in developing language that protects peer evaluation and the ability of faculty to practice open, thoughtful. and meaningful assessment.

Riverside Community College District

Article XI - IMPROVEMENT OF INSTRUCTION and TENURE REVIEW

“participation in student learning outcomes assessment processes (SLO assessment results for individual instructors will not be included”

Mt. San Antonio College

ARTICLE 18: FACULTY EVALUATION PROCEDURES AND PERSONNEL FILES
18.B. Teaching Faculty Performance Expectancies: Upon employment at Mt. San Antonio College, on the premise that the College exists for the educational welfare of the students, a member of the faculty unequivocally accepts the following professional responsibilities (Adjunct faculty should also refer to Article 18.K.2):

18.B.16. To maintain current knowledge of department goals, planning agenda, assessment activities, and curriculum development.

Further, each faculty is expected to complete 6 hours of supplemental work (outside of the classroom) and the form that documents this work also includes SLOs.

Santa Rosa Community College

Article 14A MOU (14.10)

4. The Self-Assessment Report, described below.

Self-Assessment Report. The Self-Assessment report should include the following:
1. Self-reflection on strengths and areas for improvement, as well as plans for professional development. This report should include reflection on participation in any student learning outcomes assessments in which the regular faculty member has participated over the three-year evaluation period, which includes the evaluation year.

Los Angeles Community College District

Basic And Comprehensive Evaluation Summary Form For All Faculty (Appendix C) includes the following statement: (For all Faculty): Participates in the Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Cycle (for classroom faculty, includes approved SLO’s on class syllabi.)

Citrus College (not yet reaffirmed using this method, but an idea we like)

 

AP 7203—Form 8

This prompt is in the professional development form attached to the AP.

Describe how you have used assessment of learning outcomes in your classroom/teaching.
Faculty Member Signature                             
Date                  

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