Monthly Archives: December 2012

Associate in Arts for Transfer: Random thoughts and some predictions

We have two new kinds of degrees in California:  AA-T’s and AS-T’s.  I am not the most knowledgeable historian of the AA-T pattern, but I have learned a lot and will share what I think I know (comments welcome).

Summary:  There are now 22 majors that can guarantee a student with a 2.0 grade average a seat in the CSU ahead of other applicants for transfer.  

The plan, at first, was to identify the top 20 most popular majors and to streamline them so that students intending to transfer could get to transfer sooner and more cheaply.  The goal was to have each major be around 60 units.  Provisions were soon made for “high unit majors” as well, since some majors simply can’t be done and the GE pattern accomplished in 60 units.  But the goal is 60 units.

(For simplicity’s sake, I’m referring to them as AA-T’s from now on).

An AA-T fulfills the IGETC OR the CSU Breadth patterns that we all know and love.  Yes, it’s a little confusing to students, too.  We need to get better – in the classroom – at reaching out to students and advising them about transfer.  The counselors do a remarkable job at staying current on all of this, but all of us need to know the basics, so we can help students.

A course from the major can also be counted toward the IGETC or CSU Breadth pattern.  So, if the major fulfills, say, Social Science Breadth with its 18 or so units, the student can spend the rest of their 60 units on whatever they want (more social science if they like it; other subjects if they like those).  The more diverse a major pattern is, the more flexibility the student has in choosing electives.

So what’s going to happen to our old General Studies Pattern III majors?  Apparently, they still fulfill the transfer requirement, but they are not on schedule to be a preferred way to transfer; students with AA-T’s get preference.  Since our local CSU must allow the AA-T students in first, that means unless our students have an AA-T they are unlikely to get in.  Only 10% of CSUCI’s students are currently from Ventura County.  There is an increasingly “backlog” of AA-T students waiting to get into a transfer school of their choice.

One question that will almost certain be upon is, therefore, is whether we continue to offer that General Studies Pattern III A.A. degree.  Students are already confused enough about how to transfer and what gives them priority.  My personal view (and to be frank, this is the view of nearly everyone I’ve talked to so far – so if your view differs PLEASE make it known sometime soon, we want a robust dialogue about this):  we need to end the GS degrees.  They promise something they may never be able to deliver, as students from around California with AA-T’s compete for slots in the CSU.

Further, I believe strongly that the UC’s will soon follow suit and there will be one and only one way of transferring from a community college to a public university:  The AA-T’s (also called Transfer Model Curriculum or TMC process).

Will it become the case that only AA’T’s are accepted?  That’s a trickier question, but after hearing the president of CSUCI speak to the Board of Trustees this month (December 2012), I realized it’s something of a moot point.  The AA-T’s get preference – and right now, that’s enough to lock out students without AA-T’s.

On a happy side note, at the Fall Plenary Session, the State Academic Senate agreed and authorized its Exec Board to continue investigation into a resolution involving automatic degrees and certificates.  Right now, a student who meets all the qualifications for a degree or certificate has to go one extra step and file a petition to graduate.  Even with Degreeworks, students are not always aware which degree they either already have finished or are about to finish.  Naturally, that will be changing.  Students will become more savvy about figuring out which degrees they are about to receive (right now, as I understand it Degreeworks only calculates the student’s pathway to local A.A.’s not the AA-T’s – if I’m wrong about this, someone please correct me).  But, the State Senate is proposing that colleges be allowed to go ahead and award degrees to any student who has completed the pattern.  This would, by the way, up completion rates at community colleges since students do in fact transfer without bothering to collect their degree (and we are told that completion rates are tied to our financial future and to the administration of Prop 92 funds – which is our primary funding; how this going to take place is anyone’s guess).

So, within a few years, it is possible that

1) only AA-T’s will allow students to transfer (either by CSU choice or de facto)

2) that degrees will be awarded automatically (which may also up transfer – we hope so)

3) that baseline data collected today will reveal much about the most popular pathways to transfer in ways we are not accustomed to seeing

All of this is reshaping what we do.  Eventually, the State TMC process widened to include 22 completed majors.  Not all of them are completely worked out.  Each major developed a statewide task force, with invitations sent to every full time faculty person in the disciplines involved.  Academic Senate Presidents were advised of which groups were underway (Philosophy finally finished on December 10, 2012).  

Schools took different views on how to proceed with establishing AA-T’s.  Some of us wanted to wait until the TMC was finalized to submit our AA-T’s to our curriculum committees and Boards.  Other schools went ahead and did some guesswork, knowing that they could still tweak their curriculum further if needed, but also knowing that if the state curriculum was close to final, they would get a jumpstart on other schools.  At any rate, there are 22 available TMC patterns as of today, with two more nearing completion (Chemistry and Spanish) and three currently under construction.  The link just above will show you all that information.  There’s also a link on that page where you can sign up for your discipline to receive future updates.  

80% of Oxnard College students come to us stating that they want a B.A., only about 18% actually transfer.  In the end, all of this is about changing that.  Notice that there’s no distinction between CTE and Transfer any more.  CTE and STEM disciplines receive AS-Ts, that’s the only difference.  Four of the existing 22 TMC patterns are CTE; more are on the horizon.  If you’re curious as to whether your own discipline will eventually be included (if it’s not already), use the listserv sign-up link on the page I linked to above to see a drop-down menu of the disciplines who have organized at the State level.

Who organizes these groups?  The State Chancellor’s Office in conjunction with the State Academic Senates (Community College and CSU Senates – and soon, the UC’s).  In other words, we do.  

For more information about how the C-ID and TMC process might affect you, see my other post on the C-ID process.

From a local perspective, our own program review processes are incorporating TMC issues into program review.  We want to up transfers, so having an AA-T or AS-T is a good thing.  It’s something we need to support.  It may eventually be the case that a student cannot transfer without an AA-T/AS-T, so we need to plan for the future.  

There are compliance issues, as well.  New legislation requires that we construct TMC degrees for any disciplines where we already have degrees.  From my perspective, there is now a two-tiered system of transfer coursework:

1)  Coursework that is part of a specific TMC pattern

2)  All other GE Breadth Coursework

Since, once you combine all the 22 majors together, it’s entirely possible for a student to get a degree and meet their breadth/GE requirements, those disciplines that do not have any degree at all and are simply doing GE may end up looking redundant – in the future, a future that may be 4-5 years away.  Money for the community colleges is not going to go up; indeed, I suspect that despite efforts by the State Academic Senate to hold on to the mission statement of the community colleges that other missions, such as Pres. Obama’s Completion Agenda, are going to take root, redirect grant funding (already happening) and reshape our mission.  But even if not, transfer is still part of our mission, and it is huge reason that students come to our college.  Every dollar, every unit is going to count, going to be budgeted.

The underlying reason is pretty simple.  The entire planet is on austerity measures because we’re reaching our limits of expansion.  Even technological expansion cannot continue without large numbers of highly educated people working in teams, within a corporate structure (unless someone devises another economic system).  We are needed to rise to this crucial demand:  creating an educated citizenry.

While OC is only required to build 14 TMC patterns (by my quick calculation), I believe we should look at trying for more.  I also think that if your discipline is on that TMC list and you aren’t complying with the new rules (it’s actually law) by putting your TMC in place, it’s going to be a real problem at program review time.  Fortunately, nearly everyone is done!  The pioneers in the field (Amy Edwards, Marie Butler, Linda Chaparro, Robert Cabral and the business faculty in general) are of great assistance, but I can tell you that if you’re really confused the go-to people are Shannon Davis and Krista Mendelsohn.  

If you’ve read this post and the one on C-ID’s and can improve upon the information I’ve given, please email me at ASAP.  

I still have questions, but I think I know the answers.  While recent legislation requires 100% compliance with providing AA-T’s where ever we have AA’s, I think it goes without saying that those must AA-T’s must actually work for transfer (which means that the curriculum must be C-ID and must have gone through the State approval process, which is getting a little slow).  As long as it’s in the pipeline at the State, I believe we’re compliant, but we aren’t really meeting the spirit of the law until the TMC’s at OC are fully operational, and we should all be working together to get that done.  


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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Uncategorized


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What the heck is C-ID?

What’s all this Course Descriptor/Course Identification business and why should I care?

Prediction:  Eventually every course that’s on a TMC will have C-ID numbering and descriptors

Summary:  Your courses have to be approved at the State level, in terms of meeting the C-ID descriptors, before your TMC can be used for transfer.

Well, if you aren’t part of the TMC (Transfer Model Curriculum) process you probably don’t care and even if you are, you might not care.  It was a mystery to me until I started working on the Anthro AA-T.

Simply put, the C-ID system is a set of common course “descriptors” that are supposed to guarantee that a student taking a particular class (given a common course identification number in the C-ID system) is getting the same basic curriculum everywhere in the state.  It’s the new CAAN system, but it has way more buy-in from the CSU’s and it’s here to stay.

Within our own district (which is not really a microcosm of the whole but is in some ways it’s own insular world), we have long pondered common course numbering.  The system that the new TMC process is using is called C-ID and it assigns 100- and 200-level numbers to lower division coursework, just as we do at OC.  Yay, OC.  But, other colleges throughout the state (and within our district) use the number 1 as the starting point for lower division courses – or even, oddly, sometimes the numbers 300 get in there (for lower division work!)  I can certainly understand why some committee, somewhere, decided to set forth a standard set of numbers, and that’s part of what the C-ID system is (it’s also much more).

The C-ID “descriptors” are actually statements about what should be in the course, its description, and its actual outline.  Learning outcomes are specified within the C-ID system.  Put in the most blunt manner possible, you can call your course “Intro to Whatever” but when it goes to articulate at the state level so that students can use it to transfer, it better look remarkably similar to the courses already in the C-ID system.

Yep, I mostly just used the C-ID descriptors and added to them for the Anthropology outlines and they seem to be doing fine.  I’ve done this since I came to the community college system, and it’s always worked.  No matter what you think you want to emphasize in a class, if you stick closely to what the C-ID descriptors say and use virtually the same language, your course will articulate.  You can add more content, but don’t take away content – cover all the described material.

Also, don’t bury the required content in a lot of other content or your course will look like a different course and won’t articulate.

Most of the time, most courses at OC articulate because we are all studying the C-ID rubrics and following them.  The courses also articulate because Shannon Davis does the same thing for us.  Curriculum Committee tries to be very helpful in this area too, but when you look at the sheer number of courses and how complex the system is, there’s no way that even the Curriculum Committee can be expert in your field.  You should really know the descriptors in your field.

Now, this is the dicey part.  Before a course can be part of a TMC, it must already be approved at the State level for its match with the descriptors.  Ouch.  When I learned this in August, I immediately went to work on the four courses in Anthropology that have descriptors.  If a course doesn’t have descriptors, you don’t have to submit it for approval to the State/CSU team, but if it has descriptors – as all of the core TMC courses do – you have to submit it for approval.

So, while my AA-T is done, it will only be when the State/CSU team of anthropologists reviews my descriptors for the four courses that my AA-T can be useful to a student.  Depending on the discipline, it’s taking 1-3 months for this to happen (and if my observations are correct, it’s taking longer and longer as the reviewers get more and more swamped with 116 community colleges submitting so much curriculum).

Upshot:  even if your TMC wasn’t approved yet, you should have heeded the announcement in August and gotten your courses updated.  Most of you did that or are doing it right now and hopefully that’s complete.  We’ll certainly be looking at such issues at PEPC and perhaps issuing advisories or something.  We have to do something to make sure we meet the TMC pattern goals.

In perusing what’s gotten approved at the State level, I can’t help but give a shout-out to Chris Horrock for being one of only two colleges in the system to get that Symbolic Logic class approved for Philosophy (so far).  Talk about a fast response!  If you’re not knowledgeable about symbolic logic, you should know that there are a lot of students who love, love this subject despite its grueling nature.  There are people who think that it’s as important as math in transfer, and it certainly leads to jobs in the computer field (I run into former students all the time who say that symbolic logic was the key to their current job success – although many of them ended up taking the course elsewhere, as OC hasn’t always had the right arguments to get Symbolic Logic into the schedule; the TMC process will change that).

I hope this tiny example helps you see how the TMC/C-ID process affects us.  And here’s a challenge to the historians:  take a look at what your discipline is up to, statewide.  History has 6 courses with descriptors – but only one course where I see finalized descriptors (the website is always a little behind reality – so let’s take that into account).  This struck me as interesting because philosophers have been busily making sure their courses articulate (even though their TMC was approved only 6 days ago).  The History TMC has been around for awhile.  What’s up with that, historians??

So, let’s issue a challenge to those disciplines who are behind in the C-ID process:  submit your curriculum and get it up to date!  Anthropology was so late in developing its descriptors that comparative data is not yet available (but should be in January or February, so we can play tag).  If your discipline was an early adopter, you’re already ahead of the game, so please, please take advantage of that (as Chris has done) and get your curriculum ready to go!

P.S.  I’m guessing that our historians are already busily at work getting this done, but from my side, I see the state approvals when they post – and I see what the Board approves.  I absolutely love hearing about your progress in this area (and there’s now a box on the Program Review form for you to say more – because every discipline has a slightly different story here).


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