California community college system officials have trouble collecting data from local colleges across the state on key issues such as enrollment, campus police, and application fraud. And now, the state chancellor’s office wants the governing council to force local colleges to respond.
The rector’s office overseeing the 116 community colleges in California plans to do so by creating new state regulations that would require local colleges to respond within 10 days when the rector’s office requests data or other information.
The community college system, the largest in the country with about 1.5 million students, has not been able in recent semesters to fully report enrollment in its colleges. The inability of the system to accurately report enrollment arose after the start of the pandemic, when community colleges across California and across the country saw double-digit enrollment losses. System officials attributed much of the problem to the challenges of having certain students take credit-free online courses.
With this initiative, the management of the system is acknowledging that one of its problems when it comes to collecting data is that local districts do not cooperate when asked to respond to requests for information.
Officials say having complete data is necessary for the system to work with its goals of improving student success in areas such as degree completion and transfers to four-year universities. In a recent faculty survey of their enrollment levels, the chancellor’s office staff claims that almost half of the faculties did not respond. In a survey of campus police, the chancellor’s office received responses from less than half of the districts.
The proposed change in state regulations was unveiled on Monday at a meeting of the system’s governing board. The board may vote on the change at a future meeting.
“This element really presents us with the opportunity to establish the responsibility of community university districts to respond to requests for information and data from the chancellor’s office that are critical to very important issues,” said Valerie Lundy-Wagner, vice president of digital infrastructure for the system. . during a presentation to the board.
Without a change in state regulation, colleges currently consider data requests from the chancellor’s office “as voluntary,” said Marc LeForestier, general counsel for the chancellor’s office.
Under the proposed regulatory change, schools will have 10 days to provide the data or inform the rectory when the data is ready. It is not clear what consequences schools will have if they do not comply with the regulations. A spokesman for the community college system did not immediately return a request for comment on Monday.
In a note to the council on Monday, Lundy-Wagner and LeForestier wrote that the chancellor’s office recently tried to investigate the faculty on enrollment but received no responses from all faculties. For one of the surveys, only 67 colleges or 58% of them responded, “even with additional reminders and requests for a relatively short survey of information that universities should have available in general,” according to the note.
The chancellery office also recently inspected districts for police-related information on campus, but received responses from only 10 districts, according to a note presented to the board as part of Monday’s meeting. That’s less than 14% of the state’s community college districts. Those surveys sought information on campus police models, costs, administration, and supervision.
Since last year, the rectory has also asked districts for monthly reports related to application fraud in colleges. In late August, it was revealed that community colleges across the state the scammers were trying to fraudulently solicit and sign up for financial aid dollars.
In the five months that schools have been asked to report on this issue, only nine schools have provided information to the rectory each month. Of the 116 colleges in the system, 52 of them did not report in any of the months. The rectory office says it has even offered technical support to help schools with their reports, but that the technology center has received less than one consultation a month.
“These experiences, and others, suggest that the Governing Board should formalize a collaborative process that establishes a clear requirement that critical data and information should be shared with the Rectorate,” the note states.
Without full college data, the system will not be able to achieve its “Vision for Success,” said Amy Costa, vice president of the board. The Vision for Success are the goals of the system to increase the number of students who complete their degrees or certificates and enter the world of work or move to a four-year university.
“To the districts that are listening, I would only say that we cannot expect to meet the Vision for Success if we do not have the data. It is a fundamental part of everything we have done,” Costa said during the meeting.
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