The Issue of Establishing Equivalency in Noncredit

Mark Wade Lieu, Curriculum Committee Chair

The Academic Senate adopted a revision to Equivalence to the Minimum Qualifications at its Fall 2006 Plenary Session. However, one topic was not explicitly covered, namely the issue of equivalency for faculty serving students in noncredit programs and courses. The intent of this article is to supplement the information in the paper with a focus specifically on the issue of minimum qualifications for faculty service to noncredit students and the establishment of equivalency when minimum qualifications are not met.

To begin, it is important to note that the principles and criteria outlined in the paper are exactly the same whether we are working with faculty serving credit students or faculty serving noncredit students. Processes for evaluating a prospective faculty's qualifications should be no less rigorous for noncredit than they are for credit, and the establishment of equivalency to teach a single-course (in essence, requiring only a subset of the minimum qualifications) is not permitted. Faculty are central to the establishing of equivalency and as such need to be knowledgeable about the Disciplines List and Title 5 Regulation that set out the minimum qualifications for faculty serving in credit and noncredit instruction. We also emphasize here two of the foundation principles stated in the paper:

(1) Equivalent to the minimum qualifications means equal to the minimum qualifications, not nearly equal. (2) The applicant must provide evidence of attaining coursework or experience equal to the general education component of a regular associate or bachelor's degree.

Where the paper fails to address the particular concerns of noncredit is in how minimum qualifications are determined for faculty serving in noncredit instruction. Title 5 Regulations state that the Board of Governors will rely primarily on the Academic Senate to take charge of reviewing and updating the document Minimum Qualifications for Faculty and Administrators in California Community Colleges, commonly referred to as the "Disciplines List," and by extension the minimum qualifications required to teach in each discipline. Currently, revisions to the Disciplines List occur on a two-year cycle. Equivalence to the Minimum Qualifications regularly refers to the Disciplines List as the basis from which to establish equivalency.

However, the Disciplines List predominantly covers only faculty who serve in credit instruction. With the exception of counseling and library faculty, where the minimum qualifications are the same regardless of whether the students served are enrolled in credit or noncredit, the minimum qualifications for faculty who serve in noncredit instruction are not covered by the Disciplines List but are separately set out in specific Title 5 Regulation sections (these sections are provided as an appendix in the Minimum Qualifications for Faculty and Administrators in California Community Colleges document).

For the majority of noncredit courses, the minimum qualification is a bachelor's degree in each of the approved instructional areas.

This includes mathematics, reading, and writing (under elementary and secondary basic education), English as a second language, health and safety, parenting and home economics. For faculty teaching citizenship courses, a bachelor's degree in any discipline is needed plus six semester units in American history and institutions. For faculty teaching older adults, either a bachelor's degree or an associate's degree plus additional coursework and/or pertinent experience are required. For faculty teaching occupational courses, a bachelor's degree plus two years of experience or an associate's degree plus six years of experience is required. For the complete details, refer to Title 5 53412.

It is important to note that the minimum qualifications for noncredit instruction are not organized in the same way as for credit instruction. Credit instruction is organized by disciplines with minimum qualifications for each discipline. Noncredit instruction is organized by instructional areas and Title 5 specifies minimum qualifications for each area and in some cases provides specific requirements for sub-areas.

In addition, several areas are singled out for more specific treatment, and equivalency committees need to be aware of these requirements.

Instructors in noncredit apprenticeship programs have their minimum qualifications spelled out in Section 53413 (c). Faculty working in programs for disabled students have their minimum qualifications spelled out in Section 53414. Counseling faculty working with students in disabled programs are covered in section (a), and faculty working with students who have speech communications problems are discussed in section (c); for both of these areas, there is no distinction made between service to students in credit or noncredit. However, all other faculty serving students in noncredit disabled programs have a separate list of qualifications detailed in section (e).

In conclusion, when an equivalency committee is reviewing the minimum qualifications for a faculty member interested in serving in noncredit or credit, the processes, responsibilities, and issues are the same. Equivalence to the Minimum Qualifications is an excellent resource on the issue for consideration of all faculty hires. When considering faculty for service in noncredit, the only important thing to remember is that for most faculty, the minimum qualifications on which equivalency is established come from specific sections of Title 5 Regulation and not from the Disciplines List itself.

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