Access to Excellence Progress Report Presented to CSU Board of Trustees October 2011
In May 2008, the Board of Trustees adopted Access to Excellence as the strategic plan for the CSU. A plan of action was then developed and presented to the Board of Trustees on November 18, 2008. The Board accepted the report and passed a resolution to accept the Accountability Plan (RCOW 11-08-02).
The plan included system-level indicators with metrics as well as campus initiatives that were suggested but not mandated. At the system level, eight commitments or key initiatives served as the themes necessary to move the strategic plan forward.
- Reduce Existing Achievement Gaps
- Plan for Faculty Turnover and Invest in Faculty Excellence
- Plan for Staff and Administrative Succession and Professional Growth
- Improve Public Accountability for Learning Results
- Expand Student Outreach
- Enhance Student Opportunities for "Active Learning"
- Enhance Opportunities for Global Awareness
- Act on the CSU's Responsibility to Meet Post Baccalaureate Needs, Including Those of Working Professionals
Operationalizing the above system-level initiatives required identifying the measureable objectives and metrics that would evolve over a decade and bring Access to Excellence to fruition. System-level priorities were created and approved by the Board of Trustees in November 2008. The next step in the process required identifying the personnel who would be held accountable for specific objectives and the timeframes for the work to be started and completed. Recognizing the distinctly different characteristics of universities within the CSU, campus administrators, faculty, and staff were provided flexibility in terms of identifying operational goals to support Access to Excellence. The Accountability Plan suggested a menu of indicators from which institutions could select and be held accountable for demonstrating progress toward the broad system-level commitments. Specific objectives and metrics were not identified or assigned; instead, campuses were encouraged to identify objectives and establish criteria for measuring outcomes.
Setting Timelines and Prioritizing Initiatives
The 2008 Accountability Plan provided a roadmap but the launch of all initiatives was not intended to occur in the first year. The process of prioritizing commitments and assigning tasks began in March 2009 and has evolved since that time. Indicators/key initiatives have been redefined in response to statewide budget cuts, personnel changes, competing commitments, and a more focused approach to achieving the goals. Nonetheless, the eight commitments remain as the benchmark for achieving the goals established in Access to Excellence.
The Graduation Initiative
The first commitment under Access to Excellence and the highest priority for Academic Affairs is improving graduation rates and closing the Achievement Gap. As such, the indicators under this initiative were redefined, personnel were shifted and a budget was approved to bring this goal to fruition. Today, this goal is one of the key components of Access to Excellence and is under the direction of Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Ephraim Smith. The Board of Trustees are updated on the progress of this commitment when Graduation Initiative reports are provided throughout the year.
Early Start and SB 1440 - Additions to Access to Excellence
The precursor to the Early Start Program is the Early Assessment Program (EAP), which is a collaborative effort among the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and the California State University. The program was established to provide opportunities for students to measure their readiness for college-level English and mathematics in their junior year of high school, and to facilitate opportunities for them to improve their skills during their senior year. Early Start is designed for CSU admitted freshmen to begin remediation prior to the term for which they have been admitted. Planning for the Early Start Program was an Education Policy discussion item at the November 2009 Board of Trustees meeting. On June 11, 2010, Chancellor Reed signed Executive Order 1048 establishing the "Early Start Program". The framers of Access to Excellence did not include Early Start in the original strategic plan. However, it has been integrated into Access to Excellence because it is a key component of closing the achievement gap (Commitment/Key Initiative 1).
Access to Excellence has also evolved in response to external forces. SB 1440, also known as the Student Transfer Achievement Reform (STAR) Act, was approved by Governor Schwarzenegger on September 29, 2010, after the development of Access to Excellence . This legislation will facilitate the success of the Graduation Initiative (Commitment/Key Initiative 1) and assist the CSU in meeting the goals associated with Student Outreach (Commitment/Key Initiative 5). The scope of this legislation merits inclusion in the strategic plan and will be woven into Access to Excellence as a key initiative.
Access to Excellence -Accomplishments From 2009 to 2011
An updated Accountability Plan Progress Report, summarizing a comprehensive list of key initiatives and outcomes that have been achieved under Access to Excellence from 2009 to 2011, was presented to the Board of Trustees in October 2011. The report features modifications in the headings, which have been changed to incorporate traditional strategic planning language. For example, "operational goals" replace the former "commitments", "key initiatives" are the reported "Indicators" and "outcomes" replace the "metrics" that gauge system-level success. As noted above, some of the key initiatives have been modified to provide better alignment with the operational goals of the strategic plan. The template also includes expected outcomes and the timeframe for their completion, which will be reported to the Board of Trustees.
Access to Excellence - The Future
Strategic plans are constantly evolving and should be reviewed periodically to ensure that the key initiatives are in synch with the operational goals. Modifications are necessary to ensure that the overarching goals of Access to Excellence are achieved. For example, advances in technology provide new directions and limited resources can delay activities necessary to complete initiatives. Intervening events will always impact strategic plans and constant vigilance is required to ensure that the core mission is the center of all activities. In the CSU, Access to Excellence is the foundation for the future and the vehicle to ensure that our focus on excellence is maintained and our commitment to students resolute.