Results of LACCD Strategic Planning Focus Groups

Strengths

Weaknesses

Opportunities

Threats

LACCD Strengths

What are our internal strengths?

Sample Comment

Group(s) Making Comment

Enhance the community by providing a bridge to success Important link between public school system (K-12) and getting students into 4-year universities.We help bring up the quality of life in the communities we serve.We train students for jobs in which they can earn a decent living.

Classified staff, admin, and faculty have a firm commitment to the community.

Staff, Faculty
Accommodating to students Faculty automatically help students when they’re lost.Teachers encourage students to visit them in their office hours.Despite tough times and being short-staffed, there are many people who are kind and do everything they can to help students.

Faculty accept more students than they need to because they know students can’t get classes, even though it makes more work for them.

Faculty, Students, Staff
Exceptional faculty that go above and beyond (just need to be recognized) We have committed, dedicated faculty who really make a difference with students. The district does not have a mechanism for recognizing their work well enough.Have some star faculty – want to see them get recognized as excellent teachers campus-wide.We have some really exceptional people doing really exceptional things. Faculty, Students, Admin
Ability to serve students with limited resources District-wide, we train and educate more students than we are funded for.We maintain a high level of student services in the face of less resources.We have learned to do more with less. Admin, Staff
Ability to develop grants Individual campuses need assistance to seek and write for external grants.(Trade) is good at getting grants through Workforce Development.(ELAC) is exceptional at getting grant funding.

(Valley) implements grants well.

Faculty, Admin, Staff
Students can take courses at multiple colleges Standardized course database so students can consistently register throughout the District – centralized attendance accounting.Easier use of class credits because we are a district. District Office Admin, Staff
Large Size Have fairly strong health benefits package for employees because we have the clout of a nine-campus district.Our nine colleges can speak as one at the state level.Across our campuses, we offer a broad range of programs to students. Faculty, Admin, Staff
Innovative, short-term programs LACCD offers certificate and CTE programs that can get students out quickly with marketable skills. Faculty, Students
Focus on student success (e.g., FTLA, SSIC, ATD) SSIC allows us to share best practices with colleagues. Workshops focusing on strategies for teaching basic skills are useful.Positive leadership from District in terms of faculty training (FTLA).Achieving the Dream is a good mechanism for generating dialogue on how we can help Basic Skills students complete college in a timely manner. Faculty, Admin
Diversity of our student population Very diverse student population on each campus as well as across campuses. Students
Shared governance The shared governance process needs to be carefully tended. (this is the only comment I could find on this topic in my notes) Faculty

LATTC  Weaknesses

Weaknesses:  What are our internal weaknesses?

Sample Comment

Group(s) Making Comment

Communication (departmental, campus and district; better dissemination of information to students) Policy changes, board rules, procedural changes frequently not communicated down through the ranks.

Internal communication at the campus level is problematic. Office staff lacking info needed to help students.

There needs to be a more uniform way of operating and communicating between the District and the campuses – every campus seems to have its own system, and this can be confusing.

Need better communication to students about policies (e.g., unit limits for financial aid, academic rules and consequences, etc.).

Students use the internet to get information, but they also want to see maps, flyers, posters, electronic signs, and kiosks on campus with relevant information.

ALL
Lack of sufficient course offerings Cutting too many classes that students need to graduate.

Lack of night classes for students who work.

Students are fighting over classes.

The campuses are overwhelmed by students not having enough classes.

ALL
Scheduling and sequencing of certain classes Courses across schools don’t follow the same sequence for the degree.

Need to schedule classes at times that are convenient for students – many students work in the mornings and evenings, so schedule with this in mind.

Staff, Students
Classified Hiring Procedures / Personnel Commission Need to streamline hiring process. Job descriptions & testing process do not match skill sets needed for actual jobs.

Employees are working out of class and it is very difficult to get them reclassified.

The Personnel Commission hinders a person’s ability to do things that they are capable of, so we can’t take advantage of the strengths of our employees.

The Personnel Commission is an obstacle when someone is needed right away to get the job done.

Faculty, Staff, Admin
Staff training and career advancement opportunities Many feel there are limited opportunities for staff to advance to faculty positions, or management. No real training for managers/supervisors.

New a “new hire” orientation.

Need consistent training on new systems and new policies and procedures.

Staff, Admin
Inequities in the budget allocation model Funding model needs to be changed to take into account more factors than FTES. Consider costs of programs offered, actual campus operating expenses, etc. Admin, Faculty, Staff
Inadequate staffing We need to replace those who retire so there are no vacant positions.

When people go on leave, nothing is done to accommodate that change.

Vacancies need to be filled immediately.

Cross-training is needed to cover duties when there are absences/vacant positions.

Staff
Outdated equipment (e.g. telephones, computers, printers) Staff and students expressed concern that equipment and software programs are out of date. For-profit campuses can use sophisticated methods to recruit and serve students that LACCD doesn’t have.

When the computer systems go down, student services have to turn students away because they can’t provide the services that students need.

The computers in campus computer labs often don’t work or aren’t hooked up, so there are not enough computers available for students.

ALL
Cost of books Need a book loan program.

It’s so expensive to get new editions of books all the time.

Need to explore open-source textbooks and e-books.

ALL
Lack of a structured road map for students Need a flow chart that maps steps to graduation. Also need major sheets which delineate course sequencing, etc.

Need to bridge the gap from enrollment all the way through the end – guide the students from one process to the next.

Students want step-by-step checklists with very specific instructions.

ALL
Reductions in student support services (e.g. tutoring, counseling, assessments, etc.) Student support and direction are sorely missing – students are floundering on their own and are taking extra classes and are here longer – in some cases, they are spending money to take classes they don’t need.

There needs to be extended hours for student services at night and on weekends for students who work.

Faculty, Students
Campus and district websites not kept up-to-date and user friendly Too hard to find info. Directories not accurate, web pages hard to navigate.

Need on online District directory (on the INTERnet) that explains people’s titles and the departments they work for.

The District needs to build a unified web presence for the District and campuses — websites that all look similar and have the same functionality.

ALL
Need better budget accountability because some colleges are always in deficit There are no ramifications if colleges go over their budget allocations – there needs to be accountability if you go over what you are given.

Students want more transparency in how budget decisions are made on campus.

Admin, Faculty, Students
Need to do a better job of instructor evaluations (i.e. are they current in their field?) Need to visit classrooms and evaluate teaching regularly. Especially tenured profs as they are not always on calendar. Find ways to ensure that they stay current and curriculum is relevant.

Students want an outlet for pointing out professors who are not doing a good job.

Students, Admin, Staff
Insufficient budgets While it is understood that we have limited budgets, campuses complain that they do not have the basics to do their jobs- ability to buy simple supplies, print docs, etc.

There is a recommendation from the State Student Success Committee to have students consider going full-time, but we don’t have the room for that – we need more funding.

ALL
Cumbersome procurement and contracting policies and procedures Too many layers to get approvals for supplies, etc. Can we simplify? Also, no follow up from DO if there is a problem w/ processing. Docs allowed to sit unprocessed.

Many vendors will not do business with us because it takes too long to get paid.

The contracts processes are constantly changing, but there are no manuals or guides about this.

Staff, Admin

LACCD Opportunities

Opportunities: What opportunities might move the LACCD forward?

Sample Comment

Group(s) Making Comment

Connect the curriculum with career opportunities Curriculum outdated, not reflective of skills needed for current job market.Need more partnerships with businesses for workforce training.We need to respond more quickly to emerging trends in the workforce environment, but the curriculum process holds us back. Staff, Students, Admin
Distance education courses We need to stay ahead of the curve in distance education.Students are taking more classes online and these are the first to fill – we need more funds to create online courses. Admin, Staff
Mandatory assessment, orientation, and educational plans Help student retention by requiring assessment, orientation, and ed plans. Make orientations more effective.Give students improved orientation to ease transition from high school since students may not be getting support from home.Also need to have consistent follow-up with students. ALL
Capitalize on purchase power/economies of scale Negotiate common contracts for items used district-wide.Use our size to obtain discounted pricing – we could do a lot more with a lot less. Faculty, Admin
Centralized purchasing for common items The purchasing process would be a lot easier if we all bought at the same time and would speed up the procurement of critical items. Staff
Alumni tracking and fundraising We need to build an alumni association – has anyone famous graduated from here?Need to work closer with alumni to identify job opportunities. Staff
Sharing of best practices across colleges Our collective knowledge is phenomenal, but we just don’t use it. Admin
Bridge programs and First Year Experience programs to keep student connected Expand FYE and Bridge programs throughout the district to help students prepare and succeed. ALL
Keeping up with technology (e.g. social media, mobile applications, e-books, Wi-Fi, websites, online resources, global awareness) We need to capitalize on the emerging growth of social media – how students communicate NOW – how they learn, communicate, and get their information.Need mobile versions of campus websites.Global education via technology for students.

Need to consider open-source textbooks, which would be no cost to students.

We need to provide students with more innovative ways of engagement.

With limited resources, we need to automate student services (e.g., counseling, orientation, educational plans).

Have a way for students to enroll in classes using their smart phones.

Have a way for faculty to report when they are going to be absent over a web-based system and have it automatically notify students that class is cancelled.

Need to use teleconferencing more for committee meetings.

ALL
Paperless systems The District is making more of an effort to go electronic (e.g., SAP). Staff
The new SIS We have an opportunity to re-invent ourselves with the new SIS – we need to operate as more of a District and less individualized. Admin

LACCD Threats

What threats might hold the organization back?

Sample Comment

Group(s) Making Comment

Our image (need to work to rebrand ourselves and market ourselves better) Need to conduct better PR promoting our campuses and programs.  We should establish our “Brand” in our primary service areas.It’s embarrassing at state meetings to have the LACCD referred to in a negative light – we really need to work on our image.

Students are going to SMC or PCC because of their better reputations.

The reputation of community colleges in general has gone down – this doesn’t help us to be viable.

ALL
Competition with for-profit institutions These other institutions allow students to complete much faster. Students
The digital divide (we need to close it) We still need to have things on paper – not all students have Facebook and email at their fingertips.We need to be aware of the digital divide – a lot of our students don’t have computers and can’t even do online registration – they have to go to the library, but library hours are getting cut.  We shouldn’t offer information/services that are only available online. Staff, Faculty
The underreporting of degrees and certificates due to flawed data in DEC Breakdowns and flaws in reporting mechanisms cause underreporting of degress and certs. Dirty data will be migrated into new SIS if not cleaned up.The state only recognizes campuses, so have to do data cleanup locally and in District databases – job has to be done over and over again because of uncorrelated systems. Admin, Faculty
Lack of awareness regarding what our competitors are doing  
Inability to maintain new facilities Staffing has not kept pace with number of buildings going up.There is a lack of planning for personnel – we have all of these new buildings, how are we going to staff them?

Maintenance is short-staffed, leading to dirty bathrooms and classrooms.

Admin, Staff
Some provisions of union contracts Work is hampered by the number of limitations in faculty, staff contracts. Management can’t manage.Deadwood allowed to remain in place. Staff, Students, Admin
Not keeping up with the pace of change in education (e.g., acceleration, contextualized learning, compressed classes) Need professional development for contextualized learning strategies so that it can be done well – it’s very small scale at this point and needs more resources to make it more available.District has a lot of weight, but takes a long time for change to take effect.

We need to keep up with the pace of technology for instructional use and make faculty aware of the various learning modalities used in the classroom.

Faculty, Admin
Leadership cultivation and administrative turnover We need to systematically look at talent we have district-wide based on criteria – we need to identify potential leaders and have a professional development for it. Admin
Course sequencing and content inconsistent district-wide Courses with same number have different course content campus to campus (Math 105, Eng. 28, etc.).There are discrepancies in the way certain courses are taught on different campuses – they are supposed to be the same course, but they aren’t. ALL
Inconsistent polices across campuses (e.g. test/re-test for placement) Students move around in the District and have to jump through a lot of hurdles because of different policies at the different campuses.Students should be able to go to one place to get counseling/information for ALL colleges in the District. Faculty, Admin

Focus Groups

Over the last three weeks 38 focus group sessions were conducted.

Each was lead by a professional facilitator.

There were focus groups for faculty, staff, students, and administrators at all colleges and for staff at the District Office and for faculty at the DAS Summit.

We conservatively estimate that the total number of individuals participating was between 325-400.

The facilitator recorded the responses to the sessions on a flip chart. District staff attended the focus groups and took notes to clarify the flip chart comments. The flip chart notes were entered into a database and were analyzed. This process involved identifying comments that could be associated with a particular theme. (Themes or comments that appeared to be college specific were not included).

The comments were then organized into a SWOT grid for presentation to the District Strategic Planning Committee.

There may already be plans or solutions associated with some themes. In this case education may be required to inform group about them.

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