Monday, September 26, 2016

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

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