The ACCJC SLO Pressure Cooker
Is it impacting your Contractual rights?
The Administration, faculty, and staff are all feeling pressure as accreditation looms. A big concern we've been hearing a lot about lately is completing Student Learning Outcome (SLO) assessments in a timely manner so as to avoid sanctions from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). In fact, the ACCJC requirement of completing SLO assessments continues to evolve and expand and has burdened SRJC beyond its resources.
According to Article 17.02, the job description for contract (full-time) faculty members includes participating in the assessment of SLOs; however, the five hours per week allotted to college service and professional development combined is not adequate to cover department and District service, even without the added burden of completing SLO assessments. In several departments, there are simply not enough contract faculty members to get the assessments completed. As a result, the Administration has tried to fill this gap by pressuring adjunct faculty members to complete assessments without ensuring fair compensation for their efforts. An 8/27/2014 email from the District to DL.STAFF.ALL titled "SLO Assessment Update" states, "All adjunct faculty are strongly encouraged to participate in SLO Assessment for flex credit" (bold font is from the original email). In some extreme cases, adjunct faculty members have reported to AFA that their administrators and departments have erroneously told them that they are contractually required to complete SLO assessments.
Of course, adjunct faculty members can apply for FLEX credit for completing assessments. However, adjunct faculty members have the contractual right to choose the professional development activities that, in their professional judgment, best serve them as faculty members. In other words, adjunct faculty members are contractually entitled to choose how they would like to fulfill their FLEX obligation; they may but are not required to fulfill their FLEX obligation by working on SLO assessments (See Article 17). Our diverse adjunct faculty has demonstrated its commitment to serving the District in a variety of functions, and many adjuncts are indeed choosing to perform SLO assessments. But District concerns over accreditation are no excuse to take unfair advantage of our adjuncts, a vulnerable segment of our faculty, many of who have expressed fear of reprisals if they refuse to participate in SLO assessments.
While the Administration, faculty, and staff are right to be concerned about ACCJC's record of unchecked and punitive power, this outside pressure must not cause us to violate the provisions of the Contract negotiated by AFA and the District. Surely, together we can find a way to serve SRJC through practices that are equitable for all and that uphold the Contract.
AFA Publications Workgroup:
AFA Publications Coordinator Matthew Murray, Paulette Bell, Paula Burks, Terry Ehret,
Karen Frindell Teuscher, Michelle Hughes Markovics, Sean Martin, Warren Ruud, Julie Thompson