Vocational Faculty-What's Happening?

Chair, Occupational Education Committee

The purpose of this article is to highlight for occupational education faculty what is happening at the state level around vocational education.

As you all know, this budget year has not been very good for California or community colleges. While we have not suffered as much as some, we have still seen cuts in very important programs. For example, CalWORKs and matriculation funds have been cut. Many students rely on federal and state funds to attend college, particularly vocational education students. Without this funding, some students will not be able to complete or continue their education. The Academic Senate is monitoring current legislation and continues to fight to save funding for all community college programs. The Senate is also very sensitive to the funding for vocational students.

Nursing is a particularly hot subject this upcoming year. AB 2314 was signed by the Governor and is now law. This law would encourage community colleges to standardize all nursing program prerequisites statewide, encourage articulation agreements between the community college and CSU systems, and require implementation of the recommendations of the IMPAC project by September 1, 2004. This has some serious implications for community college nursing programs. The inability of small colleges to offer a full complement of prerequisites, for example, must be taken into account when addressing the issue of their standardization. Community college nursing faculty and their chairs need to attend the IMPAC meetings in large numbers and raise their voices. Community college nursing programs are very different from those at CSU and community colleges must ensure that their students' needs are addressed in IMPAC. You can find out more information about the IMPAC Project and the upcoming meeting dates by visiting the IMPAC Website at www.cal-impac.org. Please ensure that your college is represented at the regional and statewide meetings.

In June 2002 a validation study on Associate Degree Nursing Prerequisites was completed. This was done by the Center for Student Success: A Health Care Initiative Sponsored Project. The Chancellor's Office and the Academic Senate have some concerns regarding the implications of this study. This study examined the student selection measures that could be applied to improve the successful completion of ADN students in California community colleges. The goals are to increase successful program completion by reducing attrition and dropout from ADN programs and yet maintain access. The study involved 20 community college nursing programs and 5,000 students over a five year time period. The findings revealed that four factors were best predictors of student success in completing the nursing program: overall GPA, English GPA, core Biology GPA, and core Biology repetitions (the fewer the repetitions the better). The issues that develop from this study center around access and student equity and opportunity. When the selection criteria involving higher GPA requirements and fewer repetitions of core Biology courses were evaluated, it was found that the diversity of the student pool was reduced. It was found, not surprisingly, that students admitted under these selection criteria had higher success rates. However, in today's nursing world we need more diversity, NOT less, so it would seem that tightening selection criteria is not an appropriate approach for community colleges. The study was very frank in stating that it was successful in evaluating institutional factors affecting success but had great difficulty with situational factors and dispositional characteristics that affect success. The study acknowledges that further study needs to be done. The authors of the study and the Chancellor's Office agree that a multi-faceted approach needs to take place with the following goals: 1) increase numbers of nursing slots available in our programs; 2) increase outreach to recruit students into nursing; and 3) have counseling, advising, and other intervention strategies in place to help students succeed. Contact the Academic Senate for a copy of the study.

The Academic Senate has an Occupational Education Committee comprised of six to seven vocational faculty members. The committee plans breakouts for the Academic Senate plenary sessions each fall and spring as well as for the two Occupational Education Leadership conferences offered each year. We urge you to watch your mailboxes for more information regarding these sessions and conferences. Additionally, as we begin to plan these events, please let us know what you would like to see incorporated in our planning. We want to know the hot occupational issues. Please plan to participate. We know that the faculty development funds have been cut from most budgets; however, the Occupational Education Leadership conferences cover your travel expenses, food and lodging. Your attendance is paid for, and the resources and breakouts are informative and offer an opportunity to network and connect with other occupational faculty.

The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges is seeking occupational education faculty to participate on a number of statewide committees. We want to hear your voices. As you may know, this last spring a vocational faculty member was elected to the At Large position on the Executive Committee for the Academic Senate. However, one member cannot serve on the many committees at the state level where the voice of occupational education is needed. Please turn in a nomination to serve form (available on our website) if you are interested in serving.