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V.A. Traditional Instructional Programs and Curriculum

V.A. TRADITIONAL INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAMS AND CURRICULUM

V.A.1. Curriculum Design Policy

The Board shall finance, provide, and supervise educational programs consistent with the College’s policies. The Chancellor shall establish procedures for the development, approval, and revision of instructional courses and programs the College offers to ensure their quality, community responsiveness, and compliance with appropriate accrediting, articulation, and regulatory standards. The following guidelines are for our college credit bearing courses and programs.

(a)   Academic Calendar. The Board annually adopts the College’s official calendar, recommended by the Chancellor, while complying with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s (THECB) policies, regulations, and standards.

(b)  Annual Course List. The Board biannually submits a comprehensive core curriculum list and any proposed course or program inventory changes for each college to the THECB. The list includes a description of the content, scope, and prerequisites of all the College’s proposed courses for the forthcoming academic year. All changes in course and program offerings shall be submitted on dates designated by the THECB.

(c)   Minimum Course Length. The College’s Board of Trustees sets the minimum course length for the College’s courses under the following schedule:

1.      Traditionally-delivered three-semester-credit-hour courses should contain 15 weeks of instruction (45 contact hours) plus a week for final examinations so that such a course contains 45 to 48 contact hours depending on whether there is a final exam. Some traditional workforce courses contain 80 contact hours.

2.      Every college course is assumed to involve a significant amount of non-contact hour time for out-of-class student learning and reflection. To ensure the quality of student learning, institutions should not allow students to carry more courses in any term (that is, regular or shortened semester), which would allow them to earn more than one semester credit hour per week over the course of the term. For example, in a five-and-a half week summer term, students should not generally be allowed to enroll for more than six semester credit hours.

3.      Institutions should have a formal written policy for addressing any exceptions to number two above.

4.      Courses delivered in shortened semesters are expected to have the same number of contact hours and the same requirement for out-of-class learning as courses taught in a normal semester.

5.         Institutions may offer a course in a non-traditional way (for example, over the internet, or through a shortened, intensive format) that does not meet these contact hour requirements, if the course has been reviewed and approved through a formal, institutional faculty review process that evaluates the course and its learning outcomes and determines that the course does, in fact, have equivalent learning outcomes to an equivalent, traditionally delivered course.

(d)  Required Approval Before Curriculum Changes. Employees responsible for initiating, reviewing, approving, or allocating resources to make changes in any of the College’s programs or activities, whether credit or non-credit, are expected to remain knowledgeable of current rules and requirements.  Individuals involved in proposing and implementing substantive changes are required to coordinate their efforts with the Chancellor’s Cabinet and the SACS-COC Liaison.  Notification of substantive changes will be submitted to, and approved by, accrediting or approval agencies prior to implementation of the changes. 

V.A.2.Definitions

(a)   Component Area means subject areas comprising the core curriculum. The College’s component areas include: communications, mathematics, life and physical sciences, creative arts, language, philosophy and culture, history, government, and social or behavioral sciences.

(b)  Core Curriculum means the curriculum in liberal arts, humanities, sciences, and political, social and cultural history that all undergraduate students of an institution of higher education are required to complete before receiving an academic undergraduate degree. The College has a core curriculum of 42 semester credit hours—including specific courses comprising the curriculum. The core curriculum is consistent with the common course numbering system approved by the THECB and with the statements, recommendations, and rules the THECB issued.

(c)   Field of Study Curriculum means a set of courses that will satisfy the lower division requirements for a bachelor’s degree in a specific academic area at a general academic teaching institution.

V.A.3. General Core and Field-of-Study Curriculum Policy

The College reviews its core curriculum and applicable field of study curricula at intervals specified by the THECB and reports the results to the THECB. The evaluation criteria are specified by the THECB.  The College must submit a Core Curricula Evaluation Report according to the timelines and criteria established by the THECB.

V.A.4. Specific Curriculum Design Policies

(a)   State Funding. No funds appropriated to the College shall be expended for any program which has not been approved by the Commissioner or the Assistant Commissioner for Academic Affairs and Research, or, when applicable, by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

(b)  Military and Naval Training. The Board may request the United States Department of Defense to establish and maintain courses in military and naval training, qualifying graduates of the courses for Reserve Commission awards, as part of its curriculum. The Board may enter into mutually agreeable contracts for that purpose. The work of the students enrolling in the courses may be credited toward degree requirements under regulations prescribed by the Board.

(c)   Health Occupation, Counseling, and Social Work Courses. The curricula of medical, dental, nursing, allied health, counseling, and social work degree or certificate programs shall:

1.         include information about methods of transmission and methods of prevention of HIV infection, and information about federal and state laws, rules and regulations concerning HIV infection and AIDS.

2.         give special attention to the physical, emotional, and psychological stress associated with the care of patients with terminal illnesses.

(d)   Adult Education and Literacy Special Program Requirements. The College will provide adult basic education programs in accordance with state statute and regulations and standards formulated by the State Board of Education.

(e)   Continuing Education Special Program Requirements. The Chancellor shall ensure that the College offers a comprehensive program of continuing education opportunities for the College’s community. The Chancellor shall further ensure that the programs are appropriate to the College’s mission, accessible to its community members, and comply with THECB requirements.

(f)    Contract training. The chancellor shall ensure that the college offers a mechanism for the College to offer customized courses to incumbent workers where the company pays the cost of customization.

(g)   Disadvantaged Students. The College may develop programs to serve persons from backgrounds of economic or educational deprivation, by submitting to the THECB a plan based on the following criteria:

1.      An instructional program that accommodates the different learning rates of students, and compensates for prior economic and educational deprivation.

2.      An unrestricted admissions policy, allowing the enrollment of any person eighteen years of age or older, with a high school diploma or its equivalent, who can be reasonably expected to benefit from instruction.

3.      The assurance that all students, regardless of their differing programs of study, shall be considered, known and recognized as full members of the student body, provided that the administrative officers of a community college may deny admission to a prospective student, or attendance to an enrolled student if, in their judgment, the student would not be competent to benefit from the College’s programs, or would, by his or her presence or conduct, create a disruptive atmosphere within the College not consistent with the statutory purposes of the College.

4.      The submission of a plan for a financial aid program, which removes to the maximum extent possible, the financial barriers to the educational aspirations of the citizens of the state. At times this may include Texas state grant funded scholarships to students.

5.      An annual evaluation report based on scientific methods, and utilizing control groups, wherever possible, to be submitted to the THECB at the end of each school year, covering each remedial compensatory course or program offered by the College. Any other criteria consistent with the provisions specified by the THECB.

V.A.5. Degrees & Certificate and Degree & Certificate Plans

Requirements for all degree and certificate programs the College offers shall be reflected in the College’s annual course catalog, and shall comply with all THECB requirements and regulations and other required accrediting agencies.

(a)   General Degree Requirements. Within five years of initial enrollment in credit courses at the College’s member colleges, a student may graduate according to the catalog in effect at the time of first enrollment, or any subsequent catalog, provided that the requisite courses are still being offered. If a student fails to complete within five years all requirements of the catalog in effect at the time of initial enrollment, the student shall be required to graduate under a catalog not older than five years. Exception to this requirement may be approved by extenuating circumstances.

(b)  Developmental Courses. Courses designated as developmental in the Academic Course Guide Manual may not be used to satisfy degree requirements. Such courses may be used as co-requisites or prerequisites for degree courses as determined by the College.

V.A.6. Dual Credit

The College offers students in high schools within its service area the opportunity to take dual credit courses. Dual credit courses are courses for which students receive college credit and high school credit while still enrolled in high school or homeschooling. Students may enroll in academic education, workforce education, or both. The curriculum content and rigor of dual credit courses are equivalent to the college course standards and requirements. The faculty must meet the same SACSCOC qualifications as non-dual credit courses and programs. See the College’s annual course catalog for current tuition and fee information.  Students and parents should also consider that although these courses are taught to high school students, the College will treat these dual-credit students as college students when enrolled in college courses—regardless of the individual student’s age.

V.A.7. Early College, High School, and Middle School

THECB Rule 4.154 requires that “any public college or university that participates in the creation of an ECHS/MC shall notify the [THECB] in accordance with provisions and schedules determined by the Commissioner.”

V.A.8. Instructional Arrangements

State funding shall be provided for lower-division level general academic courses provided by the College if such courses are (1) listed in the Academic Course Catalog or (2) have been reviewed by the THECB staff and have been approved in accordance with the unique need provision and are consistent with the Texas Common Course Numbering System.

(a)   Instructional Departments. The Chancellor shall, upon recommendation by the President, establish the organizational structure of each college.

(b)  Class Size. The College shall establish class size guidelines under Chancellor’s Procedures.

(c)   Course Load and Schedules. Each college within the College shall comply with the uniform final dates, counted from the first day of an academic semester or term, for adding or dropping a course, established by the THECB. Course drops are limited. Please check with any System College for specific requirements. A student may not enroll in a course after a uniform final date for adding a course.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      LSCS Policy Manual Section adopted by the Board of Trustees on February 2, 2017