MCC Daily Tribune
President's Wednesday Message
This week, I'm answering three questions submitted through the anonymous portal:
Most students are unprepared to take the math Accuplacer test because they did not take enough (or the proper) math courses in high school and/or took math many years ago and have forgotten the tested math concepts. I think we can increase math scores, and, therefore, math placements by having students take a math review session before taking the Accuplacer test. This will increase student success and should decrease the number of students taking entry level math courses. Have we looked into this?
Testing Services does not offer math review sessions prior to the Accuplacer test because it presents a conflict of interest according to Accuplacer requirements that "proctors must not have a stake in the outcome of test takers' scores."
MCC does offer students a chance to review on their own before testing. Specifically, Testing Services encourages students to take advantage of several free online resources prior to testing; you can find these resources on the Testing Services webpage. Students are prompted when making an appointment to review the Accuplacer study guidelines and must verify that they have done so.
The EDIWS division also offers a free bridge program, taught by Math adjunct faculty, for students who have tested and would like to improve their scores. Students who put in a prescribed number of hours in the bridge class are eligible to retest and try to improve their score. This program has a high success rate.
As discussed in recent Faculty Senate meetings, the use of Accuplacer as a single measure for determining student placement in Math and English courses is under review; the individual submitting this question may want to join in this process.
I submit reports to Starfish that are marked for e-mail notification only. Sometimes, within a few days, I receive a message that the notification was cleared by someone other than the student. This does not tell me if the student received the suggestions I provided to help the student do better, or if the student has sought the recommended services. Often, these are students with poor attendance so I do not always see them in class to ask directly and even when they do attend, there are privacy concerns about discussing the matter in the classroom. I see very little benefit in entering these notifications. Also, the first Starfish reports are due so early in the term (I do understand that is meant to catch problems early) that I do not have sufficient information upon which to base entries.
Faculty have a choice in Starfish early alert flags they can raise. "Email Notification Only" flags send an automatic message to the student including notes from the faculty member. "Outreach Requested" flags do this as well, but they also trigger outreach attempts by the student's School Specialist or Success Coach.
"Clearing" a flag signifies that outreach was attempted: this is the notification the questioner describes receiving. Members of the response team should also be adding a "Close the Loop" comment on a cleared flag to let the faculty member know more about the outcome of the outreach, including whether or not they were able to reach the student and, if so, what next steps were discussed to address the concern. The question suggests that this individual faculty member may not be receiving the "Close the Loop" comments; if this is the case, please let Provost Wade know.
As to the timing of the Starfish alerts, one of our college-wide goals is for these to come early enough in the semester to allow time for students to address the concerns. However, please know that faculty can manually raise flags for students at any point in the semester. This is one of the benefits of the Starfish system: faculty can customize how they use it and personalize their comments and notes.
Finally, my thanks to all faculty who are also using Starfish to send positive reinforcements--"kudos--to students who are on the right track to encourage their continued academic growth and success!
You recently addressed a question about the greeting callers receive at the MCC main telephone number. An additional issue arises when callers want to reach an adjunct faculty member. Adjunct faculty are no longer routinely assigned voice mail boxes. They need to make a request for one, but this is not routinely communicated to new hires or even known by many of those who have been here for years. In addition, a caller to the main number is instructed to say the name of the party they want to reach. But adjunct faculty are not included in the name directory .... Outside of normal business hours when an operator can be reached, it is not possible to gain further information by telephone.
Some background to this concern:
In 2010, then-ETS staff found that many of the voicemail boxes assigned to adjunct faculty were never set up by the users. The decision was then made to go to an opt-in system, and as the question suggests, it never really generated much use. Currently, fewer than 20 of our adjunct faculty have opted in.
Prior to 2010, all adjuncts were assigned four-digit voicemail boxes not traditional 292-XXXX numbers (because of limitations on the number of such extensions available). Each semester, department secretaries submitted to staff in the then-ETS division a list of adjuncts who needed voicemail accounts activated and deactivated. These staff listed and delisted each voicemail box individually. This process took considerable time and effort, and because adjunct faculty were assigned extensions, not full phone numbers, their voicemail boxes still could not be accessed directly by callers. Further, because the NameConnector system only works on 292-XXXX phone numbers, adjunct faculty's voicemail boxes are also not accessible through NameConnector.
Now, what can MCC do to fix this? In a previous post, I had mentioned that Student Services was reviewing alternatives for improving MCC's phone systems, including the possible implementation of a call center. Based on this question and others, this review is being expanded to assure that the group includes representatives from Human Resources, Academic Services, EDIWS, and Technology Services so that any proposed call center solution results from and addresses a holistic college-wide assessment of needs. If the questioner or any employee at the College is interested in participating in the assessment process, please reach out to Associate Vice President Christine Casalinuovo-Adams, who is leading this effort.
Remember, you can submit your questions anonymously through the portal--or email them or drop by during office hours if you want a personal response. Look for more questions and responses next month.
Your thoughts on these topics or others are welcomed on the blog.
Office of the President