ATTACHMENT TO AS-2598-03/AA

VII. Principles and Recommendations

After reviewing local, state, and national information on graduation rates, strategies for helping students achieve the baccalaureate, and the range of additional policy options discussed in the body of this report, the CSU Task Force on Facilitating Graduation identified several principles to which it was committed and which would undergird the recommendations that the Task Force made.

A. Principles of the Task Force

  1. The primary goal of the academic enterprise is to provide a high-quality, productive, meaningful academic experience for students.


  2. One of the great gifts and strengths of the California State University is the diversity of the student body in terms of age, native language, race, ethnicity, parents' educational levels, socio-economic status, and career and educational goals.


  3. While recognizing the diversity of both our students and the campus environments and missions that influence how students progress to a bachelor's degree, the CSU has an overarching commitment to facilitating graduation.


  4. Students as well as faculty, staff, and administrators share a responsibility in making sure that students graduate in a timely manner.


  5. In undertaking new initiatives to help facilitate graduation, the CSU will focus on things that it can control.


  6. The CSU has a responsibility to the state, to its students, and to the taxpayers to make sure that state funds are spent effectively. It is necessary to strike a balance between the wishes and desires of individual students and the wise use of fiscal resources.


B. Recommendations of the Task Force

In making these recommendations, the Task Force has reviewed the research on degree completion and the many different kinds of policy options listed in "Section II: On the Path to the Baccalaureate Degree." We understand that we have limited influence over the most important factor: exposure to a rigorous curriculum in secondary school. We understand that, given a diverse student body, imposing standardized requirements-such as full-time enrollment-is not possible. We understand that we cannot markedly affect students' decisions about the relative priorities of family, work, and school. Hence, in offering these recommendations, we focus on aspects of students' experiences and aspects of the CSU that are realistically subject to intervention and change and recommend only some of the policy options listed earlier.

For CSU Campuses:

Develop a plan, based on local institutional research, to improve graduation rates. The plan should include these actions:

  1. Develop 4-year, 5-year, and 6-year graduation roadmaps for all academic degree programs. These roadmaps should be term-by-term depictions of the courses in which students should enroll over the entirety of their academic careers (general education and major) and should address both day and evening programs when program size is sufficient to support both patterns. After the plans have been developed, they should be accessible to students at feeder community colleges and high schools.


  2. Develop and implement projected campus master class schedules designed to accommodate these roadmaps and ensure that required courses will be available during the specified terms.


  3. Require a mandatory progress-to-degree audit at a specific checkpoint (such as when a native freshman accumulates 65 semester units or upon entry for a transfer student), followed by the requisite advising and regular updates on the audit.


  4. Improve online and hard-copy university catalogues so that they are well designed, well organized, readable, and useful.


  5. Use summer term to promote student progress to degree by analyzing student course needs so as to offer a class schedule that enables students to enroll in bottleneck courses and required courses in GE and the major.
The plan should include other strategies appropriate to the individual campuses. These could include such strategies as:
  1. Offer new students an intensive first-year experience.


  2. Expand faculty professional development for improved instructional effectiveness.


  3. Improve advising practices.

For the CSU System:

  1. Ensure that there is an infrastructure and funding to allow each campus to establish on-demand, online graduation progress reports and progress-to-degree audits.


  2. Sponsor multi-campus workshops for the sharing of effective strategies for facilitating graduation.


  3. Convene a group to consider the need for CSU systemwide policies on course drops, withdrawals, incompletes, and repeats.

For the CSU Board of Trustees:

  1. Review campus plans and progress annually.


  2. After four years, assess the improvements in graduation rates, and consider if more incentives and disincentives are needed for both students and institutions. These might include fee surcharges for excess units, fee incentives for students who graduate with close to the minimum number of semester-credits needed to earn the degree, fee rebates for graduating students who attended summer school, mandatory summer school attendance, and performance funding based on campuses' internal improvements in graduation rates.


  3. Consider budgetary augmentation to implement recommendations.




 
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