According to the minutes of the October 18 Meet and Confer meeting at St. Cloud State, the SCSU Faculty Association is questioning what happened with a number of student transcripts without the faculty’s consent:
So officially what we would like to do is have data for FY07 through 12 of each semester and summer session the number of late withdrawals that are signed off after and the number of late withdrawals that faculty were not involved in. I saw three in one day in my department where the faculty were not consulted last spring and so I know its happening. Perhaps an even more concerning issue of the faculty is the number of transcript, and I don’t know a way to describe it but I am going to use alterations where students are removed from being listed as having been enrolled.
It’s difficult to picture a situation where a student disappears from a university’s enrollment list. It’s more difficult to picture a situation where a student and his/her grades disappear. As difficult as that appears to be, that’s what appears to have happened at SCSU.
As disturbing as that is, it apparently isn’t an isolated incident:
We had discussions about late withdrawals and I provided some information about some late withdrawals that when you read them you almost laugh. It’s unfortunate that they are getting withdrawals and faculty don’t even see that, don’t even get to sign off and so somehow the process isn’t being followed…
The fact that this isn’t the first discussion about late withdrawals between the SCSU Faculty Association and the administration is troubling enough. The fact that it wasn’t solved the first time adds to the administration’s troubles. The administration’s response is questionable:
Admin: The sense that we haven’t shared information is not correct; we have shared information on this in the past. It is true that we’ve also agreed that we can share that information with you. I’ve directed folks that make the decision that once the decision is made and if there is any change in the transcript that should be conveyed to the dean of the school/college within which that course resides and to the instructor who was in charge of that course. So we will do that.
That’s difficult to believe considering this response from the Faculty Association:
We have agreed to processes at least twice that I can remember. The last time was when Mitch was in your office and to get yearly reporting of late withdrawals and late withdrawals without faculty input and we got that information. I think that’s one of the things that just ought to come out to us all the time, every year. The other piece of it is that it’s difficult to do some things like helping with student success, some things like doing accurate assessment if people disappear from our records and we don’t have that information in our records anymore or if we learn for example that, and this is kind of an odd example I suppose, you don’t know that a student has taken a course three times because there is no record of it and the student is in there for the fourth time and you’re trying to figure out a way to help that student be successful and yet you’re blindsided by this lack of information.
- The Faculty Association noticed students who had gotten late withdrawals from classes that the faculty hadn’t signed off on.
- The Faculty Association raised this issue with the administration at least once before.
- The Faculty Association and the administration agreed to a process to deal with this type of situation.
- Though they had reached an agreement on the process, the process wasn’t followed.
As bad as that is, it gets worse:
Admin: That goes to the question also of support structures for student success and I agree and we are at least taking some steps in that direction with MAPWORKs, with other areas where we keep track not only via transcript which I think is after the event but while the students are in the classes.
FA: So if there was a withdrawal that faculty were not aware of and if the person was literally taken out of a course afterwards would that show up in MAPWORKs?
Admin: That probably won’t show up in MAPWORKs.
It’s apparent that the administration tried presenting MAPWORKs as a solution. It’s equally apparent that the Faculty Association noticed that MAPWORKs isn’t a solution, which the administration quickly admitted. The question that remains is why the administration would talk about MAPWORKs as a solution to the problem.
This is how potentially explosive this situation is:
In that spirit I’m hoping that we have shared governance, the curriculum is the primary responsibility of the faculty and the grades we trust you to maintain the integrity of them and while there are legitimate reasons for altering the transcripts and such we really do think that it would be a good thing for you to bring us into this process and not assert the management right that we can do whatever we want because I guarantee you the ill that you don’t know is much, much, much worse the ill that you know. I know this is something the faculty will revolt over.
The thought that the faculty would revolt if the administration doesn’t involve them in this process is understandable. The faculty take their job of grading students seriously. The thought that the administration might keep the faculty in the dark about how students’ transcripts are getting altered without the professor signing off on the alteration is troubling.
SCSU better clean this situation up quickly. That said, I can’t say that there isn’t more to this than what we’ve learned thus far. If there’s more, that’s trouble for this administration.
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