Monday, September 26, 2016

Compensation Questions and Answers

Below is the email and list of questions regarding compensation that the District Faculty Council sent to Susan Hall on Sept. 21, 2016. Her reply and responses to the questions, received on Sept. 23, 2016, are inserted below, highlighted in blue and italicized.

Hi Susan,

Thank you to you and your Talent Central staff for all the work you are doing on behalf of our employees. As I’m sure you expect, compensation adjustments bring many questions. I’m also sure you have been getting many questions from individual employees, from college HR offices, and from supervisors. As a faculty association, we have tried to funnel questions (many of which are duplicated across the District) into one source, so as to reduce – at least in some small way – the number of emails you have to address. Nevertheless, there are many questions. Would you kindly review these questions, and to whatever extent possible, share your answers with me? Then, I can disseminate your answers to my Council colleagues, who in turn can share the answers with their faculty.

Thank you for the questions, Matt. As you note, here in Talent Central, we are working on behalf of more than 3500 employees with September payroll on their minds!  Lots of fun!

I realize that your faculty presidents are much more interested in a collective answer on which you may pursue other answers and promote other discussion along the way, so I’ll just ensure that those location HR administrators and the Presidents are copied on my answers along the way as well.  I’ll try to ensure that my written answers are built in a way that the most general of audiences can understand – and look forward to you keeping me on the “straight and narrow” if I stray from the path!

1.      Do faculty, who were visiting scholars during the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 academic years, and re-hired as FT faculty for 2016-2017, get the $1,600 increase to base? If not, why not, and where are the relevant policy documents and/or HROGs that mandate denying these faculty the $1,600 increase to base?
The key to qualifying for the $1600 to base is that the individual was a full-time DCCCD faculty employee as of June 1, 2016 and they have received a faculty contract renewal for 2016-2017.  I would take a moment to point out that the increase is a recognition of prior service, and not to be given to a new-to-the District faculty hire.  This increase is intended for a temporary faculty, a continuing visiting scholar regardless of whether they were competitively hired, or a regular faculty. It is, for all practical purposes, and “across the board” increase to faculty for this year.
To answer your “ticking clock” question, the timing began for newly contracted faculty hired with a reporting date after September 1, 2015.  As an example, we hired a number of new faculty with January reporting dates – and that’s when their “clock” started on the 10 year advancement requirement. 
If you were addressing the situation for a competitively hired visiting scholar who was already on full-time status prior to September 1, 2015, then the answer is that they were “grandfathered” with others who were full-time faculty prior to September 1, 2015, and there is no requirement for them to progress beyond their initial placement by policy.
Are these individuals also expected to move from Range 1 to Range 2, or Range 2 to Range 3, in the first ten years of their employment, even though their initial hire into the District was before this policy was implemented? If so, when did the clock start on 10 years? Fall 2014? Or Fall 2016? (questions from EFC and RLC)
I’m not sure who “these individuals” are in this question – so I’ll answer the question this way:
DEA (Local) specifically states: “Individuals [faculty] hired at Range 1 or Range 2 after September 1, 2015, must satisfy requirements to progress at least one range through education or an approved discipline-specific development plan (where one credit hour would be equivalent to 16 clock hours) within ten years of initial hired in order to continue employment.”
2.      The 3-year milestone increase only applies to those hired in 2013, correct? And the 10-year to those hired in 2006, correct? Does service as a FT Temporary Faculty count toward milestone increases? Specifically, if they served as temporary FT in 2013-2014, are they eligible for the 5% milestone increase this year? Or does the three-year clock start ticking as of their FT permanent faculty hire date?
As noted in the faculty compensation guidelines last year, [milestone] adjustments to base are effective with contracts issued for 2016-2017, so yes, individuals hired in 2013 and satisfying the other necessary criteria would be the first eligible for a 3-year milestone adjustment.  Yes, the 10-year milestone would go to individuals hired in 2006.  Temporary full-time service does not count as regular faculty service, and their clock would only begin toward earning a milestone increase at the point that they were competitively hired into a regular faculty role.
Would a full-time faculty member hired as a Visiting Scholar in 2006, and then re-hired as FT faculty in 2008, be eligible for the 10-year milestone increase in 2016, or 2018? (questions from MVC and RLC)
As more fully developed in other answers, only continuous and consecutive successful service as a DCCCD faculty member is used in calculation of milestones.  In the example you provide, it isn’t clear whether the individual experience a break-in-service or not. However, without a confirmation that the Visiting Scholar in question was competitively hired, their clock would start in 2008.  
3.      Must a faculty member who is retiring this academic year be evaluated this year? December 2016 retirement? May 2017 retirement? August 2017 retirement? (questions from MVC)
While I don’t find formal written guidance specific to retirement declarations in the Faculty Evaluation System (adopted on May 6, 2002, with amendments in 2005, 2008 and 2010), I would propose that the calendar for formal evaluation be maintained.  Many times, an oral and informal declaration of retirement will not be followed with a formal declaration for many months, and in some cases, it is delayed farther beyond the current academic year altogether.  While rare, even with a formal action of the Board to accept a retirement, it could be changed up until the actual date declared.  So, yes, using the normal evaluation calendar, faculty members should be evaluated according to the guidelines up to their retirement date. 
4.      What is the order of operations to calculate the new salary for a faculty member who advances to a new range, given the compensation increases for this year? For a specific example, how will the new salary be calculated for a FT faculty hired as visiting scholar in 2010, hired as FT faculty in 2012, who earned 24 graduate hours to move into Range 2? Will the faculty member first be moved to Range 2 (increase from $50K to $53K), and then 3% for degree attainment added? How will the calculations differ for 10, 10.5, and 11 month contracts?) Is there a document that can explain all of the orders of operations for salary calculations? (questions from RLC)
See the attached document that the HR Offices are using as a guide for the order in which calculations are to be performed.  While this document is inclusive of all employee groups, you will be looking for the topical areas in the first column, “Calculation Area,” and then the “Faculty” column which appears in the 2nd column.
For the example you provided, the individual would receive the educational advancement percentage and then the milestone adjustment (if applicable).  I don’t believe that we would find the necessity to move anyone to the new range minimum before applying the educational advancement percentage.  I would expect that any individual in this circumstance would already have a salary that exceeded the minimum of the next salary range.
I can’t think of any reason why calculations on alternative length contracted faculty would be different.
5.      What is the order of operations to calculate the new salary for a faculty member who advances to a Range 2 with attainment of a second masters degree (not a doctorate)? (questions from EFC)
Same as the order of operations described earlier and using the attached guide.
6.      Will Talent Central devise an HROG for faculty (particularly CTE faculty who will choose industry-specific professional development over graduate coursework, or a blend of graduate coursework and industry-specific professional development) to move from Range 1 to Range 2, and Range 2 to Range 3, to comply with the mandate to do so for all faculty hired after Sept. 1, 2015? To what extent would unique industry certifications, such as Certified Nursing Educator, make one eligible for a move from Range 1 to Range 2, or from 2 to 3? (questions from CVC, MVC and RLC)
The HROG is still used as a reference document, but we are moving to a model driven by Board Policy, supplemented by general procedures presented in a CAOP (Chancellor Approved Operating Procedure), and specific details in the EDGE (Employee Desktop Guide to Employment). 
Related to your question, I would start with Board Policy DEA (Local), and then draft the CAOP and EDGE.  Happy to move forward in this manner and will share details as available.  Not sure that these items can be fully developed and released in time to be used in the initial conversation between faculty and dean with a filing of a plan by October 1 – but I don’t think it should take too much longer than that.  Stay tuned!
7.      For milestone increases, are the years counted based on original District hiring date in Colleague? Or the hire date as FT faculty? What about faculty who have left but returned to DCCCD? What about those with hire dates other than Sept. 1/start of Fall semester? Why was original hire date (inclusive of PSS and admin service) used to determine longevity for 3% or 5% raise in September 2015, but (presumably) not for milestone increases this year, or for eligibility for the $795 compression adjustment (9/1/91-9/1/2006 hire dates)?
Specific to milestones, and using the language from the 2015-2016 compensation guidelines for faculty, “upon completion of X years of consecutive successful service as a faculty member in the DCCCD,” we are using the FT regular faculty hire date.  The one exception is that competitively hired Visiting Scholars moving to a regular faculty role without a break in service can count their Visiting Scholar service years as well. 
Years of service are calculated off the actual hire date as a full-time regular faculty.  For this year’s compensation package, that means that an individual hired in January of 2000 would be calculated as having 16 years and 8 months of service as of 08/31/16.
When the faculty compensation package was implemented last year, the goal was to get as many dollars as possible loaded into the faculty salary schedule and individuals assigned to it as possible.  We wanted to up our averages for individuals, as well as implement a more marketable salary structure.  That goal was achieved.  As we begin the 2nd year with the strategy, there are other ways that dollars are being earned by individuals within the faculty structure (i.e. educational advancement, pay-for-performance, and the career milestones), and that extra effort to impact average salary was not an over-riding priority for 2016-2017.  In fact, that is the very reason why the consideration of an alternative faculty proposal directed at compression could be considered.
If a faculty member took an administrative position with the District, and then returned to faculty status at a later date, would the clock reset to the date on which they returned to faculty? Or would years of service toward milestone increases include their time as an administrator? What about the $795 compression adjustment for those hired between 9/1/81 and 9/1/2006? (BHC, MVC, RLC & EFC questions)
There are two different answers to this question as follows:
A ) If the full-time regular faculty member was serving in an interim appointment as an administrator, and then returned to the full-time faculty role, the clock would not be reset. The years of work would be considered to be continuous – because the interim role is considered an organizational request and not designed to impact the individual employee negatively in their official role.   In the example you proposed, the faculty member would be able to count their interim year(s) as faculty service, and they would be able to receive appropriate milestones as a result. 

B ) If the full-time regular faculty member competed for an administrative appointment, won the position, and served in the role, the clock would be reset if they were to return to a faculty role (which again would occur with a competitive search in all but the most exceptional situations).  In the example you proposed, it would depend on the faculty member’s most recently accrued continuous service.  We were careful in the introduction of milestones as included in the 2015-2016 compensation guide for faculty to style eligibility with this phrase “Upon completion of X years of consecutive successful service as a faculty member in the DCCCD…”

8.      We have Range 1 faculty reaching the 10-year milestone who have not moved into Range 2. Because the program was only announced in September 2015, they had no way previously to start a graduate program, or 384 hours of industry-specific professional development. Can they be grandfathered into the 10-year milestone increase? (questions from NLC)
I think that this one was previously answered in your question #2 earlier but it is recapped here:
DEA(Local) specifically states: “ Individuals [faculty] hired at Range 1 or Range 2 after September 1, 2015, must satisfy requirements to progress at least one range through education or an approved discipline-specific development plan (where one credit hour would be equivalent to 16 clock hours) within ten years of initial hired in order to continue employment.”
Specific to your example, if the individual is reaching the ten-year milestone this year, they were obviously already on-board prior to the effective date of this requirement, and have no policy requirement to progress.
9.      Where is the web site that easily and clearly explains the definitions of the Full-Time faculty ranges, F01, F02, F03, F04? How does one find one’s Range? (questions from MVC)
That page includes the definition of ranges, as a part of the schedule.
Additional detail in policy can be found in DEA(Local) at:
Initial salary placement is confirmed by the location HR Director, and is contained in each faculty member’s Colleague record. That range assignment is updated as additional educational credit is earned and Board approval is given for a range adjustment.  Generally, those changes for faculty appear in the August thru October Board agendas, and occur when updated official transcripts are presented.
10.  What is the point of recording and promoting midpoints for Ranges, if we have many faculty with 15-25 years of experience, who are $20K or more below the midpoint for their Range? (questions from MVC, RLC, and EFC)
There is no point in publishing a mid-point for faculty salary ranges, and I think that I can be sure that they don’t appear anywhere in print in the future.  Obviously, anytime the range minimums or maximums change, so does the mid-point.   In some organizations, the mid-point of a salary range is considered the “point of mastery” for positions assigned to the range.  That is not, and cannot, be the measure applied to our faculty salary schedule ranges when you consider we use a large graduated percentage for ranges:
a.      Range F01 is 80% - from minimum of $50,000 to maximum of $90,000 – the smallest range because the individuals brought in at that range have the minimum amount of formal education required, and we plan for them to move forward.  That was part of the strategy adopted in 2015-2016 when we put the requirement for advancement to a higher range for faculty hired 09/01/15 and after. By contractual terms, this educational advancement requirement includes regular full-time faculty and individuals hired as Chancellor’s Fellows.
b.      Ranges F02 and F03 are 90% from minimum to maximum – with the understanding that many faculty can and should easily navigate through additional credit hours or other technical field work to satisfy advancement, but they may not progress so easily to that doctorate level in F04.  We would expect that the accumulation of faculty over time would be in Ranges F02 and F03.  Given our track record for years of service, we have chosen to make those ranges broad, and with the range maximum capping salaries, it will still support salary growth for a significant number of years, even when you consider our adoption of career milestone adjustments to supplement other annual increases along the way.
c.       Finally, Range F04 requires an earned doctorate or equivalent, and allows a faculty member to double their salary before hitting the range maximum.  Again, recognizing the importance of this academic achievement, as well as the interest in promoting longevity.

September 26 Update on EQUIP/StraigherLine Experimental Project

Dear DCCCD Faculty,

In recent weeks, news of DCCCD participation in the EQUIP project through the U.S. Department of Education, has brought questions and concerns from numerous faculty around the District.

Please read this Sept. 26 statement from Dr. May, in which he explains in detail the reasons why DCCCD was selected to participate in the EQUIP project.

Dr. May agrees with the DCCFA Faculty Council that it was regrettable that faculty were not involved at earlier stages of the EQUIP application process. He said he was disappointed and sorry that sufficient communication on this project did not take place previously between the DCCCD Office of Educational Policy and faculty and instructional leaders at the colleges.

For additional background, read this Advance Blog post from Sept. 21. Then, please read this Sept. 22 project planning summary document, which details how this experiment is proposed to unfold, including how faculty would be involved. It is important to note that SACS and the DOE still would need to approve this arrangement. Also refer to these previous Advance Blog posts from Sept. 19 and Sept. 14. Finally, there has been misunderstanding surrounding the role of Cedar Valley College in the earlier ACE project, and the District's application to participate in the separate EQUIP project. This document explains the ACE project.

With the U.S. Department of Education cracking down on certain for-profit educational providers like ITT and Corinthian Colleges, and the Sept. 22 decision to terminate federal recognition of ACICS as an approved accrediting agency, many faculty may understandably wonder why both the federal government, and the DCCCD, would develop relationships with for-profit providers of higher education. Some fear "general education will be outsourced to StraighterLine." Others fear that we faculty won't teach online courses in the coming years. In reality, the number of Dallas County residents who lack higher education ensures that we will have more "student demand" for both online and face-to-face courses than we full-time faculty can "supply" for many decades. If anything such as outsourcing of online instruction were to be proposed, the DCCFA would oppose such a proposal on the grounds that DCCCD faculty are best equipped to ensure that students learn and succeed.

We faculty are needed more than ever, and the DCCFA Faculty Council will remain engaged to ensure that faculty are involved in these processes and discussions moving forward. The fact that we are familiar with Student Learning Outcomes, Core Objectives, and how to assess student attainment of them, means that we are the "subject matter experts" not only in our content fields, but also in the art and science of learning. We have the responsibility to ensure our students are learning, and we also have the responsibility to recognize when they have learned what they need to know - even if they have learned it elsewhere. The "inbound articulation agreement" model proposed for the experimental project with StraighterLine must allow - and if executed as currently designed will allow - faculty to be at the center of both processes.

After reading all of the links above, if you have questions or concerns, please speak with your college faculty association president:

BHC: Bill Hammerschlag
CVC: Tommy Thompson
ECC: Jessie Yearwood
EFC: Matt Hinckley
MVC: Margo Silva
NLC: Shirley Thompson
RLC: Matthew Henry

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Poverty and Educational Attainment in the City of Dallas

During the Sept. 19 meeting with his cabinet, at which the DCCFA is represented by its president, Chancellor Joe May discussed the inextricably linked endemic issues of poverty and educational attainment in the City of Dallas. This PDF document has several maps that show how poverty has increased significantly, as educational attainment has declined, in several areas of Dallas.

Dr. May said that his focus is aligning the DCCCD network, our partners in K-12 education, industry, destination transfer universities, community groups, and nontraditional educational providers, into a network that can begin to address the poverty and the mismatch between the skills of the current workforce (including the unemployed) and the needs of employers.

Faculty by necessity must play a role in creating and redesigning programs that can move citizens into jobs that pay wages that will lift them and their families out of poverty. The faculty council takes seriously its role in ensuring faculty are engaged in high-level discussions with members of the chancellors cabinet, and to build bridges between our District senior leaders, and faculty at the various DCCCD colleges.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

SACS to conduct review of all colleges' graduation and student loan default rates

Note: This email was sent today from SACS President Belle Wheelan on Sept. 20, 2016:

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to inform you that a news release will go out tomorrow announcing that all of the regional accrediting commissions will be conducting a special review of institutions to address low graduation rates and high student loan default rates or low loan repayment rates.  This announcement is a part of the reason I asked you for permission to use the data you supply to the National Student Clearinghouse.

The review will encourage institutions to place additional focus on crucial measures and ensure that we fully understand exactly what is happening at institutions that have subpar performance in the areas of low completion rates and high student loan default rates.  By taking a common approach, we are signaling the need for institutions to accelerate progress and demonstrate that they are doing all they can to help students complete college and pay their loans.

SACSCOC and other regional accrediting commissions will review available data and pay special attention to four-year institutions that have graduation rates at or below 25 percent and two-year institutions that have rates at or below 15 percent (reflecting half the national average for each type of institution).  We also will look at other factors and additional information, such as the number and percentage of students counted and transfer rates, to provide valuable and thorough context to the Federal data.

We will request additional information from institutions with low graduation rates and student loan problems, including information about the conditions that may have led to the low graduation rates and low default rates and/or high default rates and what an institution is doing to improve its performance in each of these areas.  The review - and any ensuing action - will be conducted using the Commission’s normal accreditation process.

We recognize that a high proportion of the colleges to be reviewed are community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and other minority-serving institutions, and that these open-access institutions serve higher proportions of economically disadvantaged and academically underprepared students than do most other institutions.  For that reason, the review will take into consideration the institution’s mission and the context within which it operates.  In addition, we will offer whatever assistance possible to help improve the performance of institutions that are struggling.

Regional accreditors also have joined forces to encourage the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that we have more accurate data.  We have noted that in some cases, the graduation data reported by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDs) Data Center on its main webpage, and IPEDS data used by the College Navigator and separately for the College Scorecard can report three different rates for the same institution, which can vary by as much as 25 percent, resulting in confusion for institutions and students alike.

I hope that you will support us in this effort and that you will feel free to ask any questions you may have.

Belle Wheelan

Monday, September 19, 2016

Additional Information on EQUIP/StraighterLine Experimental Project

DCCCD Associate Vice Chancellor of Educational Policy Anna Mays and Brookhaven College President Thom Chesney provided this information to the Sept. 19 meeting of the Chancellors Staff.

EDIT FROM TUESDAY, SEPT. 20: See this link from the U.S. Department of Education, and this story from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Through the U.S. Department of Education’s Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) experiment, the Secretary of the Department of Education will provide a limited waiver of the financial aid requirements, under the Higher Education Act of 1965, that an ineligible institution or organization cannot provide 50 percent or more of a title IV-eligible educational program, and that an eligible program must be provided by a participating institution. For this experiment the Secretary will also waive, as needed, other requirements related to the minimum timeframes for eligible programs and the timeframe and method of calculating a student’s academic progress.

The last decade has seen the emergence of innovations in technology, pedagogy and business models both within and outside of the accredited higher education sector. By creating a pathway to financial aid for students desiring to access programs offered by “non-traditional” providers, goals such as increased equity and access, more flexible and personalized learning and the reduction of costs can be achieved.

The EQUIP Experimental Site Initiative was announced on 10/20/15 and DCCCD was invited to apply.  Dr. May, Dr. Figueroa and all DCCCD College Presidents agreed that the intent to apply be submitted to the Department of Education (12/15), with all College Presidents notifying SACSCOC of the intent to apply (3/16), and the final application was submitted in April, 2016.  DCCCD College Presidents were notified of their acceptance to participate in the Experimental Site Initiative 8/16/16.
Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) and StraighterLine (SL), monitored by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s (CHEA) Quality Platform, will jointly partner to offer students a pathway to complete two popular Associate degrees:  Associate in Science (Business Concentration) and Associate in Arts (Criminal Justice Concentration).

Through the EQUIP Experimental Site program, students will be able to use Pell Grants and eligible federal loans to pay for the programs. With joint and independent marketing efforts from DCCCD and StraighterLine, it is expected that 600 students a year will enroll in the program by the end of the experimental period, starting in Summer or Fall, 2017.  As a veteran quality assurance entity, CHEA’s Quality Platform will evaluate the program for input quality and outcome performance, including student learning outcomes and cost effectiveness.

DCCCD, StraighterLine and CHEA have worked independently to successfully serve adult learners for years. With over 20,000 students taking online courses per year, DCCCD is one of the best-known, most experienced, and highly regarded providers of online programs in the 2-year sector. StraighterLine has pioneered the low-cost alternative provider market for credit-bearing online courses, offering high-quality general education courses to students at prices dramatically lower than those charged by most colleges. StraighterLine will enroll nearly 20,000 students in the 2015-2016 academic year and offers a full general education catalog (~60 courses) of high-quality, well-supported, self-paced online courses. StraighterLine has direct articulation agreements with nearly 100 regionally accredited colleges (including DCCCD) and courses are recommended through the American Council on Education Credit Evaluation Service for transfer of credit.  CHEA has overseen accreditation efforts and has already implemented a review process for alternative learning provider Quality Platform.

For the EQUIP project, DCCCD will let students earn up to 75% of their degree through the completion of StraighterLine courses.  Students will be able to enroll in StraighterLine’s 3 or 4 credit courses for $99 per credit during a 16-week term. This price includes all necessary textbooks, lab kits, proctoring services, support fees and other fees (excluding any costs for devices). It is expected that most students will choose to take at least 2 courses (six credits) thereby qualifying the student for at least half-time Pell eligibility. It is further expected that students will be able to add additional courses to their course load mid-semester should the student complete their initial courses before the end of the term. Upon completion of 75% of a program, the student will transfer their credits to DCCCD and enroll in DCCCD’s courses at standard DCCCD prices.