The 2015 Equivalency Practices Survey

Laney College, Standards and Practices Committee Member
Standards and Practices Committee Chair

According to Education Code §§87359 and 87360, individuals who do not possess the minimum qualifications for service may be hired as faculty members if they possess “qualifications that are at least equivalent to the minimum qualifications.” The Disciplines List, a list of Board of Governors adopted minimum qualifications for hiring faculty, uses the term “equivalency” to describe processes to support this regulation.  Education Code §87359 (b) requires that “[t]he process, as well as criteria, and standards by which the governing board reaches its determination regarding faculty members shall be developed and agreed upon jointly by representatives of the governing board and the academic senate, and approved by the governing board.”

To determine how academic senates are meeting their responsibilities for establishing and implementing equivalency policies and procedures, the Academic Senate surveyed local senates in fall 2015. Eighty-one responses to the survey were received, nearly all of them from faculty.  The survey results indicated that while 94% colleges and districts have equivalency policies, only 42% indicated the policy was codified in a district board policy or administrative procedure.  Thirty-nine percent indicated that it was a local academic senate or district academic senate policy. 

The survey also asked who is responsible for determining equivalency at the college.  Unfortunately, only 65% of respondents indicated that the college or district academic senate or a committee established by the academic senate was responsible for granting equivalency.  In fact, 15% of respondents reported that the administration determines equivalency on their campuses despite the fact that equivalency is the purview of the academic senate.  The evaluation of minimum qualifications, including those at least equivalent to the minimum qualifications, is the purview of the academic senate. 

Of the respondents, 80% stated that their policy does specify criteria used for determining equivalent qualifications but many also commented that the criteria seemed subjective.  Sixty percent of respondents indicated that eminence is not used at their college.  Of the 59 colleges that are part of multi-college districts and responded to the survey, 34 reported that they coordinate equivalency decisions with the other colleges in their district while 25 reported that they do not.  Once equivalency is determined, it must be ratified by the local governing board and is therefore granted for the entire district.  A lack of coordination between colleges in the same district can be problematic and create bargaining unit issues. 

Further findings indicate the need for regular evaluation, review, and revision of equivalency policies.  Only a few colleges reported that a recent review and revision of their equivalency policy had occurred by the local academic senate.

Similarly, only a small number of senates indicated that training is provided to the senate, the senate equivalency committee, or the committee chair. One college reported being in the process of developing a handbook with instructions to be provided for faculty members involved in determining equivalency. This practice would be an effective way to ensure training is uniform and that all faculty members involved in determining equivalency at any time of the year had correct information. 

The survey results and ASCCC Resolution 10.01 F14 highlight the need for a revision of the Academic Senate paper Equivalence to the Minimum Qualifications and for local dialog at academic senates regarding equivalency policies, procedures, and practices.  Look for an update of the paper at the Spring Plenary Session.