January 29, 2002
REPORT URGES STEPS TO STRENGTHEN ROLE OF PART-TIME FACULTY
SPRINGFIELD A report recommending that colleges and universities enhance the role, satisfaction, and job security of nontenure-track faculty will be presented to the Illinois Board of Higher Education February 5 in Chicago.
Board members also will be asked to act on recommendations to make teacher certification tests a more effective gateway into K-12 classrooms, and will review an analysis of a national study on college affordability which shows Illinois fares well in making higher education accessible to low-income students. The Board meets at 9 a.m. at the Lincoln Park campus of DePaul University.
The faculty study resulted from a legislative resolution directing an examination of part-time and nontenured faculty at Illinois colleges and universities. The study found a high degree of job satisfaction among faculty who are not on the tenure-track and a general sentiment among them that they are compensated fairly. The study found few so-called freeway flyers faculty who race from one teaching assignment to another as they try to cobble together full-time employment from a collection of part-time classes.
However, the study also found that there are gaps in policies and practices for using nontenure-track faculty that inhibit their effectiveness and undermine fair treatment and compensation. For example, the study concludes while most part-time and nontenured faculty consider their pay fair, the salaries of some nontenure-track faculty are very low. Most disadvantaged are those part-time faculty whose assignments add up to nearly a full-time class load. The report notes that at public universities, tenured faculty make about double the compensation of nontenure-track faculty on a full-time-equivalent basis, and nearly two-and-a-half times what part-time faculty earn. At community colleges, the median salary of full-time faculty is 3.5 times what part-timers make, on a full-time-equivalent basis.
Moreover, the study suggests that the diffused nature of administering a college campus faculty decisions made within academic departments or programs can result in inequitable treatment, such as two nontenured faculty teaching similar loads in different departments being treated differently in pay and other amenities. The report recommends that institutions establish processes and standards to govern workload, working conditions, and compensation to address possible inequitable treatment of nontenure-track faculty. Also, the report found little evidence that colleges and universities systematically make an effort to develop the talents of nontenure-track faculty or integrate them into the academic flow of the campus. It recommends that institutions develop plans and programs to 1) identify criteria used in pay decisions, 2) recognize and reward teaching merit, 3) use multi-year contracts for nontenure-track faculty to offer greater job stability and academic continuity, 4) involve such faculty in departmental and campus decision-making bodies, 5) include them in faculty development opportunities, 6) provide appropriate access to instructional resources and means to interact with students, and 7) evaluate teaching performance annually in writing.
The Board of Higher Education will act on the reports recommendations at its April meeting at Illinois State University. Also at its February 5 meeting, Board members will review a report on certification testing of prospective teachers. The report is an outgrowth of a series of articles published by the Chicago Sun-Times last fall, which examined the record of teachers who failed the basic skills or subject matter certification tests multiple times.
The staff study found that more than 90 percent of all teacher candidates passed the exams on their first try. But it also found that some candidates recommended for certification by their teacher-prep program had trouble passing their certification tests. The report recommends that passing the basic skills test, which was toughened by the State Board of Education last fall, be a condition of admission into a teacher-prep program and that passing the content test for the subject matter the person will teach be a prerequisite for student teaching. The Board also will consider recommendations relating to policies to help ensure that all teachers are able to teach to the Illinois Learning Standards.
Board members also will receive an analysis of a recent national study on college affordability Unequal Opportunity: Disparities in College Access Among the 50 States, undertaken by the Lumina Foundation for Education. According to the study, 98 percent of Illinois public colleges and universities are accessible for low-income dependent students, placing the state 5 th in the nation. In addition, 98 percent of public institutions are accessible for median-income dependent students, ranking the state 15 th overall. And 73 percent of public institutions are accessible for low-income independent students, a ranking of 19 th.
Also, 63 percent of all Illinois institutions (public and private) are accessible for low-income dependent students (rank, 22 nd ) and 87 percent for median-income dependent students (7 th ).