EAC Academic Standards and Practices Committee

Current Issues: 5-Year Rule

The Academic Standards and Practices Committee is very interested in hearing your thoughts about any current issue. Please let us know what you think.

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Submitted by:
Cami L. Bishop, SY Student Leadership Coordinator (Feb 2, 2006)

I favor dropping the five year policy on math and English coursework. Here's why:

  1. I support student success as defined by students being able to move through their program here and get to their goals. Taking the same class repeatedly simply slows them down.
  2. I was going to be a math major and loved it, but many of our students struggle with it. Having paid their dues once, we should not subject them to it again. I doubt most of our faculty would pass our competency tests (myself included), yet they are bright and making a contribution to their fields.
  3. Many programs in universities do not require nearly the level of math we do. Last year our student body president was in tears of frustration, trying to get through her math. She was ready to drop it, which would take away her financial aid. I asked her if she was going into Business or a field that would require a lot of math. No, she was going in Social Services. When she checked at PSU, her program did not require math. The same for my son who completed an AS degree here to avoid the math and was able to take statistics instead at WSU. He finishes his Master's there this Spring and has done quite well.
  4. Math might better be considered as "math appreciation" in the sense of art appreciation. That is, you may not remember all the details, but you know where to find them, and you could follow Alan Greenspan if seated next to him at dinner.
  5. Returning students who have to repeat a math course after barely passing when it was first taken may lose their eligibility for Phi Theta Kappa, the Honor Society. They get a bit of a reprieve in that courses older than 5 years do not count on their GPA requirements to become honor students. It's unfortunate that repeating that course could again keep them out.

Personally, I try to keep sharp in math by shopping sales or making deals for bulk purchases. Geometry was handy when building 3 houses. Even without math refreshers for over 30 years (yikes! I should have taken it 6 more times!), I was able to complete the statistics required for my doctorate in 2001.

Seriously, I'd prefer we send our students to classes that get them closer to their goals and success in college.

Submitted by:
Karen Jolly, SY Computer Applications/Office Systems Instructor and Educational Advisory Council Chair (Feb 3, 2006)

I believe there's not a faculty member in this college who believes what s/he teaches is critical. I know in my area, students need to keyboard (type) quickly and accurately on the job. This is usually the first class (or classes) taken. We require 45 wpm to succeed in class. While we know the speed is likely to decrease in a year or so, we do not ask that they have this class within the last 5 years. We know the speed is a requirement they need to possess to get a job, so not requiring this competency in the last 5 years may, indeed, cost them a job opportunity. The same holds true with our other skills classes--use of Word, Excel, etc. I'm not certain why it's only Math and Writing that the college is concerned about. We can't make sure that all learning is current when they graduate.

I'm in favor of dropping the 5-year requirement for both Math and Writing.

Submitted by:
Jerry Brask, CA Paralegal Department Chair (Feb 7, 2006)

I am writing to register my concern about the “5 Year Rule” as applied to AAS degrees. It is an arbitrary and, I believe, unwise policy which negates a student’s successful completion of Writing 121 and Math 65 level classes if the course is not completed within 5 years of graduation. I do not have time this evening to detail the weaknesses in the underpinnings of this Rule and am more than willing to do so at a later time. I have been informed there are respected 4 year institutions in our geographic proximity which do not have this Rule. Before continuing, I believe the Rule should be subjected to analysis and comparisons to determine if it is consistent with general standards and if it holds up to analysis.

Presently, a BA, BS or AA degree serves as sufficient basis to waive the Writing prerequisite. A fair question could be raised as to why the Math requirement is not waived as well. Again, time constraints prevent me from making a longer analysis of this issue this evening.

The present PCC requirement that students with a prior degree must demonstrate Math 95 level competency, when the existing requirement for AAS is Math 65, is to say the least, difficult to comprehend and needs to be re-written.

I am willing to make further contributions to a discussion of this issue and request the opportunity to do so. In the Paralegal Program, we encourage the completion of the AAS degree, to the extent possible. I have a notable percentage of students with BA, BS or MA degrees in the Paralegal Program. The above policies under the 5 Year Rule discourage BA and MA degree holders who have achieved at demonstrated high academic levels. I am concerned about this Rule’s impact on these students and the program. Thank you.

Submitted by:
Marilyn Marshall, RC DE/Student Learning Center Instructor (Mar 8, 2006)
The Rock Creek DE staff met to discuss the 5 year rule and we agreed it could be lightened up as it does provide some barriers to many students. We thought this should only be lightened up though, if that student had been in school for that time. If they have fallen out though for 5 years and decided to come back, they should have to retake or take the placement test and test out of each of the required subject areas.
Submitted by:
Holli Adams, Cascade Math Dept. Instructor (Mar 8, 2006)

I feel very strongly that the 5 year rule should not be dropped. The dirty little secret that everyone seems to be avoiding in this issue is that the reason people want the 5 year rule dropped is that they know these students are not still competent and could not pass a test which demonstrates competence. A competency is defined as the state of knowing... Dropping the 5 year rule (which is a stretch in itself) means that we are settling for students who once knew math instead of students who now know math. This means the math requirement is just that - a graduation requirement - not a competency. It is dishonest for PCC to issue degrees listing a math competency if we are unwilling to take steps to insure that the students are indeed competent. If the Academic Standards and Practices Committee insists on dropping the 5 year rule, then it should change all the language in the catalog about math being a competency for its graduates.

Further, consider the philosophical argument that the real world expects and needs mathematical competence from its college graduates. Our setting aside the 5 year rule, then, will put our graduates at a disadvantage when they get into the job world since they will not have skills their employers expect of them. Additionally, the reputation of PCC is diminished when we do not produce quality graduates. We need the 5 year rule - and probably need it to be a 3 year rule.

Committee Chair 2006-2007: Porter Raper