Building a Deeper Career Education Candidate Pool--Using Faculty Equivalency Processes More Effectively

October
2017
John Freitas, ASCCC Treasurer
Sarah Hopkins, Director of Human Resources, Santa Rosa Junior College/ACHRO Representative
Lorraine Slattery-Farrell, ASCCC South Representative

With the fall term in full swing, local senates are developing their recommendations for faculty hiring priorities. Given the recent attention to expanding career education[1] in the California community colleges, it is increasingly urgent that we address the need to recruit and hire more career education faculty with industry experience, including any challenges associated with fulfilling that need. When used effectively, the equivalency process should play an important and complementary role to the hiring process. As we gear up for our local hiring processes, including trainings in the roles and responsibilities of its participants, it is important to include a clear understanding of equivalency, as the effective use of equivalency can be a means for expanding the pool of qualified candidates for career education faculty positions.

Following the establishment of the Strong Workforce Program, the Chancellor’s Office established a Career Technical Education (CTE) Minimum Qualifications Advisory Work Group to address the issue of career education faculty qualifications. The work group consisted of faculty, human resource professionals, deans and vice presidents, college presidents, and Chancellor’s Office representatives. While the work group discussed multiple challenges to recruiting and hiring career education faculty, the immediate priority was on improving the effective use of local equivalency processes to expand the pool of qualified applicants in career education.

In Fall 2016, the ASCCC conducted regional meetings on faculty minimum qualifications and equivalency, but the audience at those regional meetings consisted primarily of faculty. Additional guidance and professional development on equivalency processes was needed, and a larger audience than only faculty needed to be reached. As a result, the work group drafted the paper, “Guidance Document for Career and Technical Education Minimum Qualifications and Equivalency,”[2] which was distributed to the field on January 31, 2017. Recipients included college presidents, vice presidents of instruction, career education deans, human resources professionals, career education liaisons and faculty. The document included recommendations to ensure that applicants understand what equivalency is, where to find equivalency documents, and how to apply for equivalency, along with the recommendation that equivalency processes operate in a timely manner.

Further, the ASCCC recognized the need for additional regional meetings on minimum qualifications, equivalency, and career education. In Spring 2017, the ASCCC collaborated with a planning team consisting of members of the Chancellor’s Office CTE Minimum Qualifications Work Group to plan and host regional meetings attended by a diverse audience, including a broad distribution of faculty, including career education faculty, human resources professionals, and administrators, including vice presidents of instruction and career education deans. These meetings provided foundational information on minimum qualifications and equivalency, resources, and examples of effective practices for using local equivalency processes.

One resource provided at the spring 2017 regional meetings was a checklist of steps to ensure that local equivalency processes are used as effectively as possible. The following checklist is divided into three categories: considerations for equivalency committees, assisting applicants for equivalency, and hiring committees.  The steps are not specific to any one equivalency process; rather, they should be viewed as recommendations to ensure that local equivalency processes are followed in an efficient, thorough, and equitable manner.

EFFECTIVE PRACTICES CHECKLIST FOR FACULTY EQUIVALENCY PROCESSES

Considerations for Equivalency Committees

Have clear, current and transparent equivalency procedures; communicate equivalency procedures to all relevant groups: candidates, faculty/department chairs/deans, Human Resources staff, and other district administrators.

☑  List examples of evidence that applicants can use to demonstrate equivalency.  Create a link of possible, but not exclusive, documents that applicants submit to demonstrate equivalency. 

☑  Post equivalency policies and links to relevant forms on college/district websites and in faculty job postings.

☑  To increase your pool of industry experts, consider and encourage requests for career education equivalency.

☑  Offer regular professional development and training regarding equivalency procedures and the principles of equivalency for your equivalency committee.

☑  Have standard documentation that equivalency committees consider for review/approval of equivalency cases.

☑  Have a system for documenting historical case studies of past equivalency reviews for comparison to current cases.

☑  Consider industry experience and certifications and eminence as a way to fulfill the breadth of education requirement.

☑  Have an established equivalency committee that meets regularly and has a liaison to Human Resources.

Committees should consider faculty hiring timelines so that they are available during peak periods to make equivalency decisions efficiently.

✓  Equivalency committee membership should include participation from multiple disciplines/areas of expertise (Career Education, Sciences, Arts & Humanities, Counseling, and District administration); a minimum of one discipline expert (Dean or Faculty) should be included in the review of each case.

✓  Ensure that committee members understand the required minimum qualifications, options for equivalency, and its purview for denying/approving equivalency cases.

Considerations for Assisting Applicants for Equivalency

☑  Have a standard equivalency application that is available to candidates with instructions on completing the application in the job posting.

☑  List “equivalency” in your website sitemap. Link it to a YouTube or PowerPoint explaining the equivalency process at your college.

☑  Post your equivalency process and directions on line as part of regular application process.

Considerations for Hiring Committees

☑  Inform hiring committees about the process for assessing candidates who are requesting equivalency and establish a liaison with Human Resources to assist with the processing of the equivalency case.

☑  Include training about equivalency in hiring committee orientations.

☑  In establishing hiring timelines, allow sufficient time for equivalency review (standard review time should be included in equivalency procedures and communicated to hiring committees during hiring orientation).

It is important to remember that the purpose of the equivalency process is to screen candidates into, not out of, hiring pools. Individuals who are granted equivalency to the minimum qualifications are qualified applicants for full-time and part-time faculty positions. Furthermore, the focus of equivalency is on the minimum qualifications of the candidate, not the candidate’s perceived strengths and abilities as a potential faculty member, a function of the formal hiring process. The equivalency process is not the same as the hiring process.

Professional guidance for the use of equivalence to minimum qualifications is provided in the 2016 ASCCC paper, Equivalence to the Minimum Qualifications.[3] This paper includes the principled framework of the standards to follow when using local equivalency processes. Equivalence to the minimum qualifications means equal to the minimum qualifications by a different means other than the completion of the formal education requirements stated in the faculty minimum qualifications. As such, the use of equivalency is not a substitute for meeting minimum qualifications, nor does it constitute the lowering of professional standards for faculty. Rather, it is an assessment of whether or not an applicant’s educational and/or professional background equates to the minimum qualifications for service as faculty in the California community colleges.

Therefore, local senates must ensure that the use of equivalency does not result in the lowering of professional standards. To this end, the ASCCC recognizes that practical tools are needed to complement its principled professional guidance. The ASCCC is committed to further efforts to develop resources and tools for colleges and districts to use their equivalency process more effectively, as a means to deepen the pool of qualified applicants for career education faculty positions.


[1] Career and technical education in the California Community College system is now officially called career education. The references to “CTE” in this article reflect the actual titles of the work group and the guidance document prior to launch of the Chancellor’s Office California Career Education Campaign. Please go to <http://careered.cccco.edu> for more information.

[3] Equivalence to the Minimum Qualifications is available at <http://www.asccc.org/sites/default/files/equivalency_paper.pdf>.

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