Certificates finally awarded to non-credit students

More work is needed however to repair damages to the program

Ray Kopf, Staff Writer

The Contra Costa Community College District has finally resolved the software issue that was impacting non-credit students and preventing them from receiving the certificates they had earned. The changes were implemented at the end of the fall semester and are being felt across campus, especially in the English as a Second Language department.

The issue originally stemmed from a software error at the district level involving the system the district uses for student information. The only software allowing certificates and degrees to be awarded to programs that were worth credit. According to Riki Hall, the director of Admissions and Records, the district thought the system would also support non-credit programs. 

“Unfortunately, this was not the case, and the system would not process noncredit programs with a completed status, thereby making it impossible for us to award the certificates,” said Hall. 

The issue specifically had to do with the different academic levels of the two programs and the system was not prepared to handle that difference. 

“At the time, there were not many California Community Colleges offering noncredit programs that we could reach out to for assistance with our programming,” said Hall. 

It would take direct work with the software company to fix this issue, and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic would significantly delay this process. Still, the issue returned and was fixed in the fall of 2022. 

Positively impacting the ESL program, as now they were able to give out their certificates to the students that needed them. The ESL department chair, Dr. Paula Gunder agrees that the fix in the software is a massive step in the right direction. 

“This is really awesome news for those students, our program and the college, in my opinion,” said Gunder

But she believes there is still more work to be done. There are still issues caused by the software malfunction that directly affected the ESL program and its reputation. 

“There is a very large number of students who have earned one or more of these certificates, who did not apply because we have to tell them to stop applying because the college couldn’t award them, and their applications would just sit there,” said Gunder. 

Gunder believes the college has more work to do involving this issue and shouldn’t stop at just fixing the software.

“I contend that the college should reach out to every student who had earned a certificate during the time period of SP19-SU22, let them know that they are eligible for a certificate, teach/show them how to apply for their certificate(s), and make it a priority that these certificates go out this semester,” said Gunder, adding that, “I also think the college should apologize for not having been able to award the certificates and offer their sincere congratulations on what the student has accomplished and recognize them for being among the first students to earn these new-to-LMC noncredit certificates.” 

Despite the present issues, this is good news for those who put in an application for a non-credit certificate. Those students, such as Javier Murillo, have had their applications approved recently. 

“I have received emails informing me that the certificates are in process and that they will be sent and/or delivered,” said Murillo. 

This is happening across the entire non-credit program and the process to distribute these certificates is happening in mass. 

“LMC awarded 101 noncredit certificates to 47 unique students as of Fall 2022,” said Hall.

According to Gunder, all but three of the applications were for students in the ESL program, the main LMC program impacted by this software problem.

“We now are also going to move on to items/issues related to transcribing non-credit classes (and these certificates), the non-credit application, and the representing and tracking of these certificates by the research and institutional effectiveness office(s) in the same manner that all degrees and certificates are captured so that our program has this data and research can be done to help us understand how our students are progressing through and out of ESL and into their chose college and career pathway,” said Gunder.