Questions and Answers
Alternative Academic Calendar Committee (AACC)
QUESTIONS and ANSWERS
These include the Frequently Asked Questions previously posted, along with questions gathered from constituency group meetings and representative questions asked by students, faculty, classified professionals and administrators who attended the five public forums held October 30 – November 9, 2023.
1. What is a “compressed calendar”?
Compressing a calendar means altering the academic schedule from an 18-week semester to a 17- or 16-week semester (the minimum mandated by California Ed Code) without loss of instructional time in the classroom. Many community colleges convert to 16-week semesters because it is appealing to align their academic calendars with those of four-year institutions.
According to the most recent data published by the State Chancellor’s Office, 65 of the 114 California Community Colleges have converted to a compressed calendar while 46 colleges (including Chabot and Las Positas Colleges) have remained with the traditional academic calendar with two 17.5-week semesters. Three CCCs are on the quarter system. No colleges have shifted back to a traditional academic calendar from a compressed academic calendar.
2. Why are we considering a compressed calendar at Chabot and Los Positas Colleges?
Discussions about a possible conversion to a compressed academic calendar for CLPCCD colleges have taken place over the years. The district has heard from a substantial number of faculty at both colleges over the years leading up to 2020 to engage in this study. In 2022, in line with provisions of the Faculty Association agreement with the District, an Alternative Academic Calendar Committee was formed to examine in detail the benefits and liabilities involved with any modification to the standard 17.5-week primary term.
3. In contemplating changing to a compressed calendar, are we focusing on the most important consideration of all: the academic success and well-being of our students?
Community Colleges that have adopted a 16-week semester consistently report between 1 and 2% increase in student retention and success. Some colleges offer a winter intersession, allowing students to fast-track their academic studies. The 16-week semester more closely aligns with many UC and CSU formats, facilitating the transition of transfer students. Research indicates that the compressed calendar offers greater convenience for students who are concurrently enrolled at more than one institution.
Through the Committee-driven methodology this past year to explore the benefits and liabilities, we are committed to examining the impact on the academic success and well-being of our students and in particular for at-risk and marginalized students.
To ensure we hear from our students on this question, CLPCCD is gathering data from students on their perspective through a student survey and four student focus groups. More than 900 students took the survey and a sample of those students is being asked to participate in student focus groups. The data analysis will occur in early December and be shared with the 18-member Alternative Academic Calendar Committee and posted on the committee webpages. AACC members, our College Institutional Researchers, constituency groups, and the Student Senates and Student Equity Committees at both colleges informed the student survey questions and listed profiles of students from whom we would like to hear more during the focus groups, e.g., working students, students with learning differences, students who are caregivers for family members, etc.
4. If we implement a compressed calendar, what will be the solution for our students when they have to miss class(es) due to emergencies?
Professors work in response to the needs of individual students and provide options to ensure students can succeed. They would continue to do so under a compressed calendar, including referring individual students to specialized support services.
5. Would the compressed calendar line up with K-12 schedules for breaks as it does now with the traditional calendar?
CLPCCD academic calendars are determined and published two years in advance, earlier than those of most high school districts. Despite our best efforts to take other surrounding schools into consideration, they do not publish their calendars that far in advance.
6. How might the change to a compressed calendar impact students at local high schools taking dual enrollment classes?
Under a compressed calendar, dual enrollment students might have fewer meetings per class. There are currently calendar discrepancies between CLPCCD and local high school districts in terms of semester start dates and holiday breaks. A change to a compressed calendar should cause no greater impact than currently occurs.
7. How would the new schedule affect instructional time?
Conversion to a compressed academic calendar requires that we develop a schedule of classes that replicates as closely as possible the same amount of instructional time for each course that we have under the current semester length. If a three-unit class currently meets for 54 hours per semester (3 hours x 18 weeks = 54 hours), in the compressed schedule the class would still meet for 54 hours, but the schedule would require more instructional time per week. The same calculation would be applied to the lab portion of any class. Class hours may include one 10-minute break per hour, and the need for 10 minutes of passing time would also be calculated into the schedule.
To meet regulations, any college on a compressed calendar needs to schedule 175 instructional days. An instructional week can be counted if it has at least three instructional days.
8. How would class times be affected?
Scheduling of courses must be consistent with the class hours indicated in the approved course outline of record for completion of the course. We are evaluating compressed calendar schedules at a number of community colleges in California to identify a model that would best fit CLPCCD. Individual class schedules must be based on five-minute increments for starting and ending times. As an example, a 3-unit class that now meets for 17.5 weeks from 9:00 am to 10:15 am two days per week, with 10:15 to 10:25 allowed for passing time, would meet for 16 weeks from 9:00 am to 10:25 am with 10:25 to 10:35 for passing time. We would still have at least 10 minutes of passing time between classes.
9. How would lab times be affected?
The same method used to calculate minutes of instruction for lecture classes can be applied to lab classes to determine how the schedule would be different under a compressed calendar. The calculated time may be different depending on if the lab meets one, two or more times per week.
10. It is already challenging scheduling classes in the currently available classrooms and laboratories. With longer class sessions, how will time conflicts and overlaps be avoided?
We will need to evaluate a variety of potential scheduling patterns and continue to review overall facility usage. As new buildings come online, additional classroom and laboratory spaces will become available to help in the scheduling challenge.
11. Would the block schedule be adjusted to accommodate longer class times?
The block scheduling pattern that is followed in scheduling most classes would be adjusted to fit the most common class lengths under a compressed calendar, providing for at least ten minutes of passing time between classes.
12. Would faculty adjust the number and contents of classwork assignments to fit within the reduced number of class meetings?
Instructors would tailor class syllabi and lesson plans to cover subject matter as specified in course outlines of record within the scheduled number of class meetings.
13. Would the change to fewer instructional days affect paychecks?
No. Since no instructional time is lost under a compressed calendar faculty paychecks would not be decreased as a result of changing to a compressed academic calendar. Classified professionals are paid for a forty-hour work week (the norm with some exceptions) and paychecks would not increase or decrease.
If the district moves toward adoption of a compressed calendar, faculty and classified professionals will be represented, respectively, by the FA and SEIU in impact bargaining negotiations with the district on working conditions, work hours, and compensation.
14. Would the change to fewer instructional days affect STRS or PERS retirement pensions?
No, the compressed calendar would not affect STRS or PERS pension amounts.
15. Would we still have a finals schedule?
In converting to a compressed academic calendar, some colleges vote to eliminate the finals template and hold exams during the last week of instruction. Most colleges moving to a 16-week semester vote to offer finals during the 16th week of the semester. If we proceed toward adopting a compressed calendar, we will need to determine the best option for CLPCCD.
16. Would faculty have to change their syllabi?
Yes, the syllabus for each course would need to be changed to reflect the different number of class sessions, new meeting times, and other scheduling changes.
17. Would course outlines need to be changed?
No, the curriculum, unit value, and student learning outcomes would all remain the same under a compressed calendar.
18. Would there be a winter intersession?
This has yet to be evaluated for CLPCCD. There is no requirement that a winter intersession be offered. Some colleges have added a winter intersession as a way to offer students a chance to take additional classes during the academic year. An intersession would offer additional employment opportunities for faculty. Impact on workload in support services and departments that provide essential functions between terms will be an important consideration during this evaluation.
The Alternative Academic Calendar Committee has held several discussions with colleges that have made the decision to go forward or not to go forward with a compressed calendar. Our neighboring district, Contra Costa Community College District, which has provided several interviews for the committee, does not offer a winter intersession.
19. How many colleges have successfully added a winter intersession?
In 2022-23, 65 California community colleges on the semester system operated with a compressed calendar. Of those, 49 colleges offered a winter intersession. It is important to note that offering just a small number of courses can constitute a winter intersession, with colleges choosing those courses that they believe can be effectively offered in a highly-compressed time period.
20. Would summer session be longer?
It is possible that a longer summer session could be offered, but that will be a function of the discussion and negotiations which would follow a decision to move to a compressed calendar. Each college determines its summer schedule and would most certainly consider student demand and capacity for any change to summer session scheduling.
21. Could we have 3 trimesters of equal length instead of 2 semesters and shorter intersessions?
Yes. However, this is not a popular option. The State mandates that we teach 32 to 35 weeks per year, and will not pay us for more. This means we can divide the schedule into two terms, resulting in two 16 to 17.5-week semesters; or we can divide the schedule into three terms, resulting in three 11.67-week trimesters (usually called quarters). Summer session is not considered an additional term; FTES generated during the summer is applied to either the spring or fall term. The State has not received an application for a district to move to a trimester academic calendar, but three community colleges have been approved for the quarter system (Lake Tahoe Community College, Foothill College, and De Anza College).
22. Would there be a Spring break?
If we proceed toward adopting a compressed calendar, the Academic Calendar Committee (different from this special one-time Alternative Academic Calendar Committee) will look at those issues after impacts bargaining. We have a long history in this district of always scheduling a Spring Break.
Information we have gathered includes learning that some colleges have opted to move the Spring Break week to another time. For example, Mt. San Antonio College voted to eliminate Spring Break in order to accommodate a 10-week winter intersession. We will need to evaluate the best scheduling scenario for CLPCCD.
23. Could we include a “college hour” in the schedule to accommodate extracurricular activities for students?
In order to decide whether a college hour is feasible for CLPCCD, we will need to evaluate a variety of potential schedules and look at overall facility use. The Faculty Association contract states: The colleges may institute College Hours or some other forums to enable all Faculty,
Administrators, and students to be able to meet with the Chancellor, Vice Chancellors, Presidents, Faculty Senate, Faculty Association, divisions, sub-divisions, and/or college-wide committees on a regular basis. Additionally, a work group in the AACC recommended a college hour. Some departments may be able to adjust class schedules around a college hour and others may not. We will also evaluate the demand for extracurricular activities and meetings during this time.
Should the Committee recommend to move forward with the process to the Chancellor, this is one of the many topics that the district, colleges, committees, and bargaining units will discuss leading to a decision.
24. What implications does this calendar have for counselors and librarians?
All faculty, counselors and librarian schedules will be considered through impacts bargaining on workload. The Committee has gathered information from other colleges that have made the transition to a compressed calendar and found that non-instructional faculty either keep their existing schedule (same as for a 17.5-week term) or increase contact hours in a compressed schedule. This will be an item for the FA and District to negotiate, should it be determined we are moving forward.
Our discovery included finding some colleges state that a compressed calendar gives librarians and counselors greater flexibility in offering services to students, faculty, and staff. For example, with an extended January break, students have more time before the beginning of the spring semester to meet with a counselor and develop an educational plan.
25. What implications does this calendar have for classified staff?
Although classified professionals would experience no reduction in their regular annual work schedule resulting from a move to a compressed calendar, the implications for change in their workload timing patterns need to be carefully studied in evaluating the pros and cons of such a move.
The Committee has gathered and documented evidence from other colleges and our own constituency groups that understaffed departments, schedules of staff who work in labs, and program areas that administer student processes and systems that can only occur during the instructional term and other processes and systems only outside of the instructional term will need to be studied. Specific departments and their functions have been a major topic of impact during Committee discussions. The impact on program areas will be addressed by the district should we go forward. The effects of potential changes in the length of the summer session, addition of a winter intersession, and increased facility usage Monday through Saturday would be covered in impact bargaining sessions with the SEIU.
26. With potentially increased class offerings on Fridays and Saturdays, how will the work schedules and staffing requirements for Maintenance & Operations, Campus Safety, and Student Services be affected?
Work schedules and staffing requirements are regularly reviewed and adjusted under the current academic calendar. If a compressed calendar were adopted, rescheduling of work hours and assignments would be made, in consultation with employee group representatives, to accommodate additional needs for services on Fridays and Saturdays if educational activity on those days is substantially increased. Our district currently schedules Saturday classes in the 17.5 week term. The current Saturday schedule offerings meet the compressed calendar requirements.
27. Are student fees/tuition for the shorter terms the same as those for the full semesters?
Yes. All fees remain the same from term to term unless there are changes imposed by the State of California.
28. Would student financial aid or Veteran or DACA benefits be affected by a change to a compressed calendar?
The full array of fee waivers, grants, and other aid to assist with educational costs would remain available to eligible students under a compressed academic calendar. Sixty-five California Community Colleges and our surrounding public universities function on a 16- week term, so while CLPCCD would need to make an adjustment, we can learn from many systems with 16-week semesters that serve students eligible for financial aid, Veteran benefits, and DACA benefits through CADAA.
29. Would a compressed calendar affect our flex activities?
Possibly, but this is a function of planning discussions and negotiations. The Committee has reviewed the adopted schedules of colleges across California. Some colleges vote to move flex days to the beginning or end of the semester, since placing them within the primary terms has the effect of lengthening the instructional year for students with no instructional benefit for them. Scheduling professional development flex days to accommodate the participation of classified professionals is an important objective.
30. Would a compressed calendar help students adjust better to transfer institutions with shorter semesters?
The 16-week semester more closely aligns with many UC and CSU formats. Some students have expressed that a shorter semester had facilitated their transition. The Committee has not found a specific research study on this topic.
31. Will classified professionals be granted representation on the Academic Calendar Committee?
The long-standing Academic Calendar Committee that considers, examines, and recommends CLPCCD’s academic calendar two years in advance to the Chancellor is part of the negotiated Faculty Association contract in Article 8. Any changes would need to be further looked at given the current contract language.
32. Do we have a clear consensus from all the disciplines (represented by faculty) and from all the classified staff at both Chabot and LPC that CLPCCD should adopt a compressed calendar?
All district employees were invited to complete the AACC employee survey, and 443 submitted responses. The analysis of the employee survey and student survey will be presented to the AACC by December 11 in order to inform their recommendation. Survey data will be posted on the AACC webpage.
33. If research is lacking and many questions are still unanswered, how can the Committee make a recommendation with so many unknowns?
The AACC has met for a year to study available research and consider a variety of complex issues, with some questions remaining unanswered. This 18-member committee is charged with making a recommendation to the Chancellor based on the information available to them. If the committee decides to recommend moving forward, the next essential steps will include study and discussion of topics that the district, colleges, committees, and bargaining units need to cover leading to a decision on adopting a compressed calendar. Further discussions with peer institutions will be one important source of additional information.
Note: The Resources page of the AACC website includes documents and research references related to citations in several of the above questions and answers. By December 12, 2023 the AACC will have posted all the gathered evidence, including Employee and Student Survey outcomes as well as Student Focus Group outcomes.
For more information, questions or comments, please contact:
Phone: (925) 485-5244
Phone: (925) 485-5278
- Compressed Calendar Public Forums PPT
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