California Community Colleges Curriculum

Credit Course Repetition Discussion Board

We welcome your comments and questions on this topic.  Please note that your question will not appear on the board until it has been approved by a moderator.

125 thoughts on “Credit Course Repetition Discussion Board

  1. LDLee

    At the risk of appearing a bit “clueless”, I have a request. As I’ve scrutinized the dialogue to date, as well as the documentation I’ve received from other sources on the state repeatability changes, I have yet to find an official document defining the concept of “families”. I can find nothing that would suggest that this is a requirement directly attached to the state repeatability changes; instead, it appears to be a recommended tool being used by schools in addressing these complex issues.

    Please clarify, preferably with a direct link to original documents.

    In both cases on this discussion board when a respondent asked specifically for such information, Julie provided the link to the proposed regulations on repeatability that was approved by the Board of Governors. While important, that document doesn’t answer the question; nowhere in said document could I find anything relating directly to this term (“families”) as it relates to curriculum or its recommended application.

    As we rapidly move forward with this dialogue, I ask that we try to refrain from using “shorthand” (terms, abbreviations, concept phrases, etc.) amongst ourselves without also providing access to definitions and original materials. Each school is wading through these issues in different ways and at different paces, and often information becomes distorted as it is passed from person to person.

    Thank you for your efforts in providing this discussion board.

    1. jbruno

      Although the word “families” in not used in the proposed Title 5 regulations on repeatability, it is commonly used to refer to a set of courses defined in Section 55000 (l): “Courses that are related in content” are those courses with similar primary educational activities in which skill levels or variation are separated into distinct courses with different student learning outcomes for each level or variation”. The following is a link to a document entitled “Principles of Developing Families of Courses” that discusses the implication of the proposed regulations to “courses that are related in content”:

  2. Pam Gilmore

    Re: The term “permit” a student to repeat. Does this mean the repeat is not allowed but could be granted for special circumstances? Specifically, I am looking at section 56029 and students with disabilities. Courses that serve this population are no longer repeatable, correct? But repeats could be granted on a case-by-case basis?

    1. jbruno

      Yes, a college must set up policies and procedures to verify that a student has the specific need that meets the requirement (such as a student with disabilities) to repeat a course pursuant to Section 55040 of the proposed regulations.

  3. Ann Lowe

    CWEE – Apparently I missed out on an important piece of information related to CWEE. At the regional meeting in the South, we discussed the fact that CWEE is not considered “repeatable” even though students are still allowed up to 16 units. The description needs to specify the number of allowable units. My question relates to managing the process of registering more than once for the course. Does it work like a variable unit course?
    Ann Lowe
    College of the Canyons

    1. jbruno

      Courses for work experience are repeatable by students but the repetition is based on student repetition and not curriculum repetition. A college must have a process or procedure (petition or other mechanism) to permit students to repeat the course up to the maximum credit hours outlined in Section 55253.

      Furthermore, only the occupational work experience programs can be repeated (not general work experience education, which is a type of cooperative work experience education), and then only if the college offers only “one course in occupational work experience in a given field and that course is not offered as a variable unit open-entry/open-exit course.” (55253 (b))

      According to Section 55253, the total limit on cooperative work experience per student is 16 semester credit hours, a maximum of six of the 16 can be general work experience. Occupational experience is limited to a maximum of eight credit hours can during one enrollment period.

      So, if a student takes six hours of general, then the student can take up to ten of occupational work experience, with a maximum of 8 hours in one enrollment period. The student can repeat the occupational work experience (if the conditions in of 55253(b) are met, see above) but only up to the ten hours.

      These limitations were in the previous version of the regulations and have not changed.

  4. Diana E. Hurlbut, Ph.D.

    Hi Julie and David! Thanks for answering questions on this forum.
    Here’s my question:
    Imagine a dance course at a community college is worth 2 units. Imagine the same lower division course at a cal state is 3 units.
    1. can the community college students repeat the community college course twice?
    2. IF there were a family of courses that this community college course was a part of AND IF the student took the course twice then have they used up two of their four options within a family? thank you in advance for considering my question. Diana

    1. dmorse

      1. How you handle this is a local decision, but yes, a college could base the repeatability on the need for a given number of units required rather than on the number of courses taken. So in the situation you describe, if the course in question was a requirement to get into the CSU major and the CSU would only accept the student if the student had the three units rather than two, the course could be deemed repeatable depending on the decision of your curriculum committee. Of course, you could also decide to rewrite your course to match the unit value of the university course, in which case it would not be repeatable. That is, again, a local decision. But the bottom line is that you can justify repeatability based on unit values instead of number of experiences if you can find university requirements to justify it.

      2. This one is more definite and is not a local decision. Repeating the class would make it appear on the transcript twice, so yes, it would count as two experiences within a family. If you place repeatable courses within a family, the repeats definitely count toward the four experiences. This is certainly relevant to answer number one, as this answer might encourage you to adjust your course to match the university course in order to open up

  5. Kerry Ybarra

    For our Developmental Services courses that had repeats removed, the counselors in this area wanted to add the following statement to the catalog descriptions for all of their courses: “Students with disabilities please refer to Title 5 Section 56029.”

    They would be happy with: “Students with disabilities may petition to repeat the course.”

    The Office of Instruction is advising that we not go with the second option, since they are concerned about language of repeatability being attached to a catalog description in which the course itself is not repeatable (repeatability generated by student need, not the course itself).

    Our Curriculum Committee is reluctant to refer students to Title 5, since students will have no idea what that is.

    Is it best to leave off the catalog statement altogether? The DSPS counselors are extremely reluctant to do that.

    1. jbruno

      The first step is to decide locally how you will verify that a student meets the criteria to repeat the course. Will it be by petition, authorization by DSPS or some other process? Once that is decided, the college will need to get the message out to students in some way. Finding the middle ground among the perspectives may prove tricky but in defining the process, you may find a suitable message for students. If all else fails, you could post your question on the Yahoogroups Curriculum Listserv to see how other colleges have handled this issue.

  6. Michelle Stewart

    I would like to apologize to Mira Costa if I implied that this was a decision that had been already decided. Like all of us, they are still working through these complicated issues.

  7. Jeremiah B.

    Hello Again,

    Are independent studies courses still repeatable? I asked this question cacurricuchairs and they suggested that independent studies would fall into the same category as special topics courses. Does that sound right?

    At our college independent studies in philosophy would be “Philosophy 29”. This is clearly not in the golden 3(major prep, competition or athletics). But the content is different each time as determined by an individual student contract. Can a student still take it more than one time per Title 5?

    If not, are are their legitimate ways to level or diversify independent studies courses, or should we think of it as more correct to say any student can take only 1 independent studies course in philosophy.


    1. jbruno

      Independent studies courses are no longer repeatable under the proposed regulations. Therefore, a student may only take your Philosophy 29 course once as long as he or she successfully passes the course. How you decide to handle this situation is a local decision. There is nothing to preclude a college from offering diversified independent studies course as long as their CORs are distinct from each other in some way. Then again, your college may determine that one independent studies course in a program is sufficient to address student need. Discipline faculty and curriculum committees will need to decide the purpose of independent study courses in addressing students’ educational goals and the value of the course within the curriculum.

  8. Jeremiah B.

    What is a “recency prerequisite” and how is that related to “significant lapse of time”

    Hello Curriculum Friends,

    I am reading the Title 5 language about “recency prerequisites” right now, but I still can’t figure out what it means. Does it mean that a Community College can require me to take, for example, “Lab Safety” before I take “Toxic Waste Lab 1” but that that a college must make that a corequisite or else make it a recency prerequisite of “within 36 months” or longer?

    If I remember correctly, if it is a corequisite, that I can already enroll in it again, even if I took it in the past, and it has been less than 36 months. If, lets say, “Lab Safety” is a corequisite of “Toxic Waste Lab1” but also of “Toxic Waste Lab 2,” then I can enroll in “Lab Safety” both times for apportionment?

    1. jbruno

      A recency prerequisite means that a student can only be considered to have fulfilled a prerequisite if the student has taken the prerequisite course within a specific time frame. If the prerequisite is required to have been taken within two years, and the student took the class three years go, then the prerequisite would not have been fulfilled and the student would need to take the course again.

      However, a recency prerequisite is not a justification in and of itself for allowing a student to repeat a course. You would have to go through the new language of Title 5 section 55040 on course repetition to find a reason to allow the student to retake the course. If the student had taken the class more than 36 months previously, then you could use significant lapse of time as a reason for the repeat. If the student is legally mandated to take the class or must do so to keep a job, then you could use those exceptions. But the recency pre-requisite itself is not a justification for a repeat.

      1. Jeremiah B.

        Hello Again,

        I am so thankful for the feedback in deciphering the meaning of the new Title 5 language. The responses are well researched and insightful. In the case of the recency prerequisites I don’t think that the last answer I got can be right, even though I know it came via the Chancellor’s office. Maybe it is because the new language on recency prerequisites just doesn’t make sense, but we need an interpretation because a lot rides on what it is supposed to mean. Some elements of the original reply to my post are below, along with my continuing reasons for confusion. Thanks so much to Julie and the others!

        From J Bruno: However, a recency prerequisite is not a justification in and of itself for allowing a student to repeat a course. You would have to go through the new language of Title 5 section 55040 on course repetition to find a reason to allow the student to retake the course. -End, J Bruno

        But this suggests that there just are no more recency prerequisites. Rather than saying, you must take Lab Safety 1A within 2 years of Lab 1B it would just be saying that an individual student can retake Lab Safety 1A if the individual student finds some other part of Title 5 that allows it and uses that other section to petition for a retake. If this is true, why is there anything about “recency prerequisites” in the new language?

        I’m also not sure what that way of understanding recency prerequisite has to do with prerequisites? Or does it mean that because Title 5 says I can retake a course to keep a job, and EMT’s have to take this course every 2 years to keep their Job, that I can set my enrollment system to allow retakes of this course every 2 years for all students? But this also has nothing to do with prerequisites. This recency prerequisite would also not be allowed, because it would be less than 36 months.

        From J. Bruno: If the student had taken the class more than 36 months previously, then you could use significant lapse of time as a reason for the repeat. If the student is legally mandated to take the class or must do so to keep a job, then you could use those exceptions. But the recency pre-requisite itself is not a justification for a repeat. – End J. Bruno

        I like this reading, and I want to go with it. But Title 5 doesn’t seem to say this. The language says there must have been at least 36 months of elapsed time AND there must be a recency prerequisite for the course or program at your college or a transfer institution. So the 36 months is only a justification if there is ALSO a recency prerequisite. So somehow a recency prerequisite must be passed in addition to exceeding the 36 month minimum.

        This also means that the new Title 5 language only allows for a significant lapse of time where there is a recency prerequisite. If we take “prerequisite” to mean what it usually means (and what it is defined in Title 5 to mean) then that means there is nothing in the new Title 5 language to allow for a retake due to a significant lapse of time for any reason other than because this course is a prerequisite to another course, and this course must be taken within a certain amount of time before that other course. …Unless “recency prerequisite” just means that as a prerequisite to taking the course a second time there is a prerequisite of at least 3 years having elapsed since the last time I took that same course the last time. But that does not seem to be what is meant here, or what section 55003 of Title 5 means when it defines a prerequisite.

        Many thanks for any clarity that can be offered!


        § 55043. Course Repetition Due to Significant Lapse of Time.

        (a) In addition to permitting course repetition in the circumstances described in other provisions of this article, a district may also permit or require repetition of a course where the student received a satisfactory grade the last time he or she took the course but the district determines that there has been a significant lapse of time of no less than 36 months since that grade was obtained and:

        (1) the district has properly established a recency prerequisite for a course or program pursuant to section 55003; or

        (2) another institution of higher education to which the student seeks to transfer has established a recency requirement which the student will not be able to satisfy without repeating the course in question. Pursuant to petition, a district may allow repetition where less than 36 months have elapsed pursuant to this subdivision if the student documents the repetition is necessary for the student’s transfer to the institution of higher education.
        70901 and 70902, Education Code.

        1. dmorse

          We did contact the Chancellor’s Office to try to get more clarity on this, but your post contained a number of questions, several of them hypothetical, so we are having some trouble untangling the exact issue. However, I’ll see what I can do to give you some response here.

          In response to Julie’s comments, you say that “this suggests that there just are no more recency prerequisites.” Again, prerequisites and repeatability are not the same issue. A recency prerequisite means that the student must have fulfilled the prerequisite in a certain amount of time before taking the target class. That has nothing to do with the course being repeatable. Yes, if the student has taken the course at your college longer ago than the recency prerequisite allows, then the question of allowing the student to repeat comes up. But the two are not inherently linked; the student may have taken the prerequisite at another college, or may not have taken it yet at all, so no repeatability would be necessary. The prerequisite exists in any case.

          However, if the student did take the prerequisite at your college outside the time frame for the prerequisite, then you would think about how to allow the student to repeat. In that case, if the student took the class more than 36 months previously, the significant lapse of time policy developed by your district might apply. If the recency prerequisite says that the student needs to have taken the prerequisite within 18 months of taking the target class, and the student took the class 24 months previously, then you would need to look for another justification (legally mandated training, etc.), because significant lapse of time only works after 36 months.

          In whatever case, the need for the repeat has to be determined for the specific student. You ask, “Or does it mean that because Title 5 says I can retake a course to keep a job, and EMT’s have to take this course every 2 years to keep their Job, that I can set my enrollment system to allow retakes of this course every 2 years for all students?” Again, while we think addressing real situations rather than hypotheticals would allow for greater clarity, the answer here would definitely be no. Setting the system so that all students could retake the class would make it a repeatable class, and the course you have described clearly does not qualify for course-based repeatability. You still need a district policy that establishes a process for verifying that the individual student needs to retake the class. Again, this determination is based on the student’s specific situation, not on opening the class for repeatability for all students.

          I hope this helps to clarify a bit.

          1. Jeremiah B.

            Thank you so much for the addiional clarification! Things are starting to come clear for me. One last clarificaton: the proposed regulations on repeatability from the Chancellor’s office web site has a strikethrough in 55043 where it used to say, “or has otherwise defined significant lapse of time.” Is that not going away like I thought it was? Or is that option preserved in a different part of title 5? My assumption that it was going away was my main reason for saying recency prerequisites would be all that was left of “significant lapse of time.” Thanks again to for both sets of thoughtful and informative feedback!

          2. dmorse

            Actually, I discussed this issue with Vice-Chancellor Russell today, and you are correct. Significant lapse of time now has to be tied to one of the two conditions listed in the regulations (basically, either a recency prerequisite on our part or a recency prerequisite on the part of the transfer institution), Your interpretation on this point is correct. I apologize for any confusion.

  9. Michelle Stewart

    Our MUSIC faculty are trying to find language to justify repeats for the Ensemble classes. Would either of these qualify?

    1. UCLA Music BA (from ASSIST):
    Preparation for the major: A one year comprehensive music theory course sequence, covering musicianship and theory, as well as keyboard skills if needed; two years of applied private instruction on a primary instrument or in voice; two years of participation in a large performance group such as orchestra, choir, or wind ensemble; one year of music history and analysis. Additionally, four music education majors, one course in cultural or world music.

    Exemptions from lower division requirements will be determined by the department after admission.

    2. The following language is from CSU Northridge. My faculty member tells me this is the language that Mira Costa intends to use, but to me it sounds like the credits are permitted but the classes are not required, so I don’t think it applies. However, I told him I would check:
    “All options require an entrance audition on the major performing instrument. Credit will be granted for lessons taken previously up to the skill level demonstrated. Maximum of 4 units of ensemble and 4 units of individual lessons will be accepted on transfer for the BA, subject to placement testing.”

    This same instructor is also working to define his families, and this is what he proposes. I am not sure if he is trying to create too many families, given the comments I have heard, so I would appreciate any feedback you could give.

    Guitar family (Guitar 1,2,3,4)
    Piano family (Piano 1,2,3,4)
    Voice family (Voice 1,2,3,4)
    Improvisation family (Jazz Improv. 1 and 2)
    Applied Instrumental family (Applied Inst. 1,2,3,4)
    Applied Voice family (Applied Voice 1,2,3,4)
    Ensembles (if language is not accepted)
    Jazz Ensemble family (Jazz 1,2,3,4)
    Choir family (Choir 1,2,3,4)
    Guitar ensemble family (Guitar 1,2,3,4)
    Instrumental Chamber family (Inst. Chamber 1,2,3,4)

    Michelle Stewart, Curriculum Chair
    Mt. San Jacinto College

    1. jbruno

      The determination of whether CSU/UC language is acceptable in justifying repetition for a class is a matter for the local curriculum committee. At its broadest level, the CSU/UC language should be specific enough to require multiple iterations of a class. It might be useful for the curriculum committee to discuss and codify in policy what evidence it would need to verify that the repetition is necessary to meet the major requirements for CSU or UC. That being said, the language in the first example seems to support repeatability more so than the second example, but again, that is a local decision.

      Determination of families is also a local curricular decision. Again, we do caution folks to be conservative in their determinations. Each course in a family must stand on it’s own with separate CORs that show different objectives, outcomes and content.

    2. Ann Lowe

      Those look like just a way of keeping everything as it was. We have not finalized our families yet, but we are being much more restrictive based on what would be expected if a student were starting at a 4 year school. Many of those families represent ensembles. The TMC for music and usual transfer patterns indicate that a student needs 4 experiences in an ensemble. Those families would allow for many more ensemble experiences. It looks like you have both group lessons in guitar, voice and piano as separate families.. We are considering making group lessons of all types one family and individual lessons of all types a family. This allows students to try out an area in group lessons, and gives them the required 4 individual lessons for transfer. This may be ultra conservative for some schools, but it is the direction we are considering.

      Ann Lowe
      College of the Canyons

  10. Kim Bretz

    3 Questions:

    1) I understand that Students can only TAKE 4 semesters of related courses/ Families… but can we create more than 4 courses in a family to give students choices? For instance, Having Beg,Int,Int-Adv, Adv, Swimming as well as “Lap Swimming”, “Swimming for the Triathlete”, “Swimming Cross Training”…. so a beginning level swimmer could move through 4 semesters of “learning to swim” while a student that comes in starting at a higher swim ability could start/ use their 4 semesters in the “fitness swimming” types of courses.

    2) Can an Athletic Topcode Class be ran concurrently with a PE topcode class of the same topic?? For instance, our Waterpolo, Swimming and Volleyball teams only have 7-15 students, and Administration looks at class numbers and wants to “shut the class down”… so we usually have to add regular students into classes to be “viable” as a class. But running “concurrent courses” would solve this problem.

    3) I’ve heard a lot of the concerns that instructors have about students not being able to ‘move’ from one skill level to the next in only one attempt… so if a student “fails” or gets a “D” or a “no pass” grade… can they re-take the same level again? I realize it will use up one of their “4 semesters” with each attempt. Or are they forced to either stop or try the next level up class?

    1. dmorse

      1.) You are exactly correct here. Any one student can only have four transcripted experiences within a family, but there is no actual limit on the size of a family. So yes, you can have seven levels of swimming or different swimming classes in the family. Any one student can only enroll in that family four times, but you are correct that the student would not have to start at the beginning. This is not only allowed but was actually a part of our intent when we discussed the language on families.

      2. Title 5 and Ed Code say nothing about running courses concurrently in this way. Remember that all standards and outcomes for each of the courses offered together must be upheld. But as long as you see the combination as pedagogically legitimate, nothing at the state level prohibits this.

      3. Yes. A “D” is considered a substandard grade, so a student could retake the course up to three enrollments (including the original try) to try to pass it. Once the student earns a “C” or better, then the student has to move on. And yes, a substandard grade does indeed count as one of the four takes within a family.

  11. dmorse

    Hello all. Erik Shearer from Napa Valley College recently posted an excellent comment regarding the repeatability situation on the unofficial curriculum listserv. I got Erik’s permission to repost that comment here, since Julie Bruno, Vice-Chancellor Russell, and I all congratulated Erik for his post being right on the money. If you have not yet seen it, I think everyone would be well served by reading this post and perhaps even by circulating it to your curriculum committees. The post is included below in its entirety.


    I would like to throw something else out into the discussion: a lot of what we discussed yesterday seemed to be answering questions from worried local faculty looking for ways to maintain repeatability in the face of changes to the system and pressure to eliminate repeatability. While I understand the local faculty are concerned about the changes, I feel like the discussion of minutiae and minor exceptions may preclude discussion of the broader principles that might make for more productive discussions and decisions locally.

    Local faculty in the arts should be encouraged to ask: What do students need to earn a degree or transfer in the my discipline? What courses best prepare art, music, dance, or theater students at my school for work or for transfer into a baccalaureate program? How do my program and college mission address this?

    When viewed from this perspective, the issue is less about protecting what already exists and more about crafting a curriculum that is responsive to student needs. Most students, in most cases, just don’t need to repeat courses to meet transfer-oriented educational goals. And in those instances where they do, the evidence and need for that repetition is fairly obvious and a broadly accepted part of the degree track in the major, rather than something that requires a lot of digging around. I’m certain that if I worked at it enough, modified my local curriculum in odd ways in the coming year, reduced units, etc. that I could get some art program at a CSU or UC to say that they needed my students to repeat a class to meet the lower division requirements. But I just don’t think that is serving my students’ needs. That’s about protecting what I want to teach in my program (pet classes), about my teaching load, and who I want to be able to enroll in my classes, divorced from a clear assessment of my program’s place within the college and system mission.

    Likewise, I may be able to find a single CSU that requires repetition of a single course from a single community college and use that to declare my local course repeatable. But why would I? How does that help my students? How many students from my college transfer to that school, in that major? Locally, we used CPEC transfer data and our own experience with student transfer patterns to identify ten likely transfer institutions for our students, including CSUs, UC, and several prominent private schools. We’ve tried to base our decisions on curriculum development in the past five years on transfer patterns to these schools and are likewise using them as a guideline in developing families and researching repeatability requirements. So, even though we may find instances in articulation agreements where a particular receiving institution has required repetition for unit parity, I don’t think that is, in and of itself, a compelling reason for my college to then declare our similar course repeatable. I have data and experiences that tell me what programs my students are likely to attend after Napa Valley College. My curriculum should ensure a smooth transition to those institutions.

    That said, I know that these concerns and pressures from faculty about changing their curriculums or realigning their programs are real and are difficult. In addition to my life as a faculty member in the Art department at my college, I am also the chair for the division of Arts and Humanities, which includes Theater, Music, Photography and Studio Art. I’m working closely with my faculty right now in all of these disciplines to craft a response to the changes, both in researching transfer requirements and in developing reasonable families. We started with two very simple assumptions in our discussions:

    * Nothing is repeatable
    * Everything is in a family

    We are now working outward from those core assumptions, fine tuning our response to exclude those courses that genuinely don’t need to be in families according to the criteria in T5 and researching where and in what circumstances our students might need to take the same course more than once. And even then, we are looking at ways other of handling those instances that don’t require us to declare a course repeatable. I feel like we’ve come up with a reasonable way to determine when a course should be repeatable, when the students would be better served by a sequence of courses or other co-curricular experiences, and how to construct sensible, functional course families. It’s not perfect, but I think it will balance compliance with student needs. Along with these changes we are exploring realignment of curriculum, changes to scheduling, developing better relationships with our primary transfer schools, outreach to the community, and the possible development of new community education classes in the arts, among other things.

    I’m not going to pretend here that all of the faculty at my school are sanguine about the changes. Many are worried that what they feel are core elements of their programs may be in jeopardy come Fall 2013. And they may be right. But, I would contend that it goes back to that core that should drive our decisions about curriculum: student need as defined by program, college, and system missions. The mission of the departments in my division will have to change this year. It’s the reality of what’s happening locally and at the state level. I think we can do it in a way that will maintain the integrity of our programs, but they may look different than they did five years ago.

    I strongly urge everyone to go back to your faculty and encourage them to start this process by taking a hard look at their program mission and it’s place within the college, district, and system missions. Encourage them to get that aligned, first. It might be that a lot of the curriculum currently offered isn’t really serving a core function and may be the result of a slow accretion of individual faculty interests or residue from times when these programs were encouraged to grow. As much as they cleave to specific classes or parts of their program, some of them may not be relevant any more. It’s a harder discussion, to be sure, but I think it’s better to start with that then to scramble to protect every last course currently in the curriculum.

  12. Bill Simpson

    Is the four-time repeatability within a family retroactive? Or, does it apply only to courses taken after a family is established?

    For example, imagine a college has a swimming course that was originally repeatable 4 times. They decide to delete it and replace it with a family of new tiered courses (swimming I, II, III, and IV). If a student has already taken the old swimming course 4 times, will they be allowed to take the new courses? Or, would the old course have to be placed in the family with the new courses to prevent additional repeats?

    My concern is that we will have to put old deleted courses into some of the families we are setting up, even though students can’t take them any more.

    1. jbruno

      No, you don’t have to put the old courses in the families and it would make sense not to do so. Using your example: If you have one course – Swimming – and under the old regulations it was designated repeatable 4 times. Now you have created a family with Swimming I, II, III, and IV. These four courses should have discrete objectives, outcomes and content so that a student can take the series and progress in the skills needed to master swimming. Since these are now four new courses a student who took the old swimming course a couple of years ago, or last semester, would still be able to enroll in the swimming family of course and have 4 experiences.

  13. Craig Rutan

    At my college, we have a few courses for students to be able to access our writing center, math center, etc. These courses are currently 0.2 unit laboratory courses that are open entry/open exit and each of the courses is currently repeatable (we have courses for below transfer level, transfer level, and students needing assistance that are not taking math or English currently). Do you have any suggestions on how to change these courses to be complaint with the new regulations.

    Thank you,


    1. jbruno

      Yes, the repeatability for these types of classes will go away with the new regulations. Of course we always want to ensure that we address the needs of students so just eliminating these classes may not be an option. One suggestion would be to explore the possibility of making these courses non-credit. Another suggestion would be to create a series of courses (like modules) with discrete objectives and content for students to complete as they build their skills. Finally, if these are generally open courses that students from a variety of classes in other disciplines enroll in, you might set up different courses that are tied to other, specific courses in order to differentiate them from each other rather than just having one general open course that all of the students enroll in.

  14. Kris Leppien-Christensen

    I have a colleague that wants to create a family of dance production classes as the students pursuing an AA in dance perform during each semester that they’re attending the college. However, looking at the samples provided with regards to families, they seem to indicate the development of a specific skills set (e.g., Introductory Ballet, Immediate Ballet, etc.). Would a “dance production” class warrant this type of leveling.

    The faculty member makes a good argument regarding the needs of the students and the production skills that develop from participating in the course multiple times; however, it doesn’t seem to fit the “spirit” of the changes.

    1. jbruno

      Unfortunately I do not have enough knowledge of dance production to specifically answer your question, Kris. The determination of courses within a family is a local decision. We do not want to make the families so restrictive that we can’t serve our students, but we are urging folks to be conservative in their decisions. So this is really a call for your curriculum committee, and we hope that curriculum committees will look at such things carefully rather than just rubber stamping them. Just remember that further skill development is not the justification for either levels or repeatability at this point. If students are legitimately learning new things at each level, and those new things are reflected in the course outcomes on the COR, then you may have a case. If it is just a matter of more time on task or more practice in order to further develop what has already been learned, then you may want to see if there is a curricular alternative that would be more appropriate.

  15. Sarah McLemore

    I have several repeatability questions

    1) This is specifically for Erik Shearer–I’m curious to know the outcome of your curriculum committee’s discussion regarding CTE Fine Arts Top Code exceptions to repeatability which you mentioned several weeks ago. That seemed like an interesting and thoughtful approach. How was it received at your college?

    More specific repeatability questions:

    2) For intercollegiate academic or vocational competition courses, are colleges establishing specific processes to validate that the course is part of a district sanctioned competition activity? My assumption would be that the initial approval of the COR or a revision to a COR by the department, the curriculum committee, and any other bodies like the district governing board would serve as the process by which the activity is ‘sanctioned’. But is anyone doing anything else like an additional district sanctioning process? I’m just curious. Also, my notes from the Curriculum Institute say that the district sanctioned activity must be in state. What about situations in which students within a course regularly present in a country-wide competition? Any ideas?

    3) As we all know, students are limited to four experiences within a course family and, moreover, courses within these families will not be designated as repeatable. The following came up as a question this week on campus: If we have a swimming family consisting of Swimming I, II, III, and IV, let’s imagine that a student destined to be the next Michael Phelps initially places into Swimming IV. While the swimming courses would not be designated as repeatable, it seems like it’d make sense to me that we’d use our internal petitioning process to allow the student to repeat Swimming IV so they could have up to four experiences within the family. But I’d like to know what other people are doing in this situation. What do you think?

    4) My assumption is that if a student completes his/her four experiences within a family, that’s it, they’re done. However, let’s imagine that a family is created and within that family there may be some courses which an employer may ask a student to repeat due to a substantive change in industry standards. If a student had already had his/her four experiences within the family, my understanding would be that s/he would not be able to repeat a course regardless of the employer’s requirements because said student had obtained his/her four experiences within the family. This also came up as a question in a meeting this week.
    5) And last…for the few courses we will have on campus outside of intercollegiate athletics which will continue to be repeatable (like our one choir festival competition course) do we continue to follow the guidance in the PCAH on page 51 regarding the number of times which a course may be repeatable? It reads that “activity courses in visual or performing arts areas that are part of a sequence of transfer curses may be repeated three times per semester…” I’m just wanting to confirm that this would be the guidance in terms of the number of repeats we would allow for the course.

    Thanks for your help!

    1. jbruno

      1) Here is Erik’s response:

      NVC used TOP code designation to help our Art program make finer distinctions about when a course legitimately falls under the new regulations a a “Visual Art” course and when it does not. This came up for us, specifically, with our Photography, Digital Art, and Graphic Design courses, all of which are housed in our Art Department. Applying the process outlined in the attached document, we ended up organizing our two primary photography course sequences that serve both prongs of the department mission (major transfer prep or Professional Photo AS) into two families, one for wet lab photography (Beginning – Advanced) and one for Digital Photography (Beginning – Advanced).

      Graphic Design and Digital Art: before constructing families we reviewed the program mission, recent degree awards, transfer requirements at primary area schools, and our strategic plan for this part of our department and actually made the decision to archive a slew of courses and the higher-unit AS degree in Graphic Design. Then, we decided to retain transfer-related courses and our more general Graphic Design AA, but are breaking it up into varying areas of emphasis consistent with lower division transfer prep at area transfer programs. This will make the program largely transfer-oriented beginning Fall 2013. With this in mind, we did end up organizing some of the curriculum into families even though they are coded to the 06 TOP, because these courses overlap substantially with lower division requirements for traditional visual arts. A lot of our students would be taking these courses as part of their lower division “Arts” education, not as preparation for work. We felt it appropriate to classify them as “Visual Arts.” Organizing these courses into families did not appear to conflict with student needs, kept these courses consistent with the rest of the department, and felt like an appropriately rigorous application of the new regulations. So, some digital arts and graphic design courses are in families, primarily first year and introductory courses, while the higher level courses covering more specific aspects of digital art and design are not.

      In short, we didn’t apply CTE status as a blanket exception to the families requirement; we applied it as one sorting criteria in making these determination but weighed it against other considerations and data. I think we came up with a workable group of families. As a result, the bulk of photography courses are not organized into families as they are designed for vocational instruction; by contrast, most of the digital art and design courses are.

      2) Yes, local processes should be developed to approve courses that are designed to develop the knowledge and skills students need to participate in intercollegiate academic or vocational competition. Some multi college districts may include a mechanism to approve these types of courses at the district level in addition to approval at the college level. (This would be a good question to post to the curriculum listserv.) In regards to national competitions, the proposed regulations define an intercollegiate academic or vocational competition course as “a course that is designed specifically for participation in non-athletic competitive event between students from different colleges that are sanctioned by a formal collegiate or industry governing body”. Notice that the competition therefore has to be more than a district sanctioned activity: it has to be sanctioned by an outside governing body and has to involve other districts or colleges. Also, although many of the competitions that our students participate in are within the state, there is nothing to preclude a course designed to address regional or national competitions as long as the other criteria for the course are met.

      3) A student would be allowed to repeat a course only as long as the student met the criteria for repetition as established in Section 55040, and your internal petition process should reflect that criteria. Simply allowing the student to repeat in order to gain more experience would not fit that criteria. If you truly have the next Michael Phelps at your college, I would assume he was on the college swim team. In that case, he would be enrolled in intercollegiate athletic courses and then the regulations governing those courses would apply. If your college does not have a swim team, I would definitely send the next Michael Phelps to one that does. 🙂

      4) Going back to Section 55040(b)(9), district policy may “permit a student to petition the district to repeat a course as a result of a significant change in industry or licensure standards such that repetition of the course is necessary for employment or licensure. Such courses may be repeated for credit any number of times”. Although a student may have had four experiences in a family, if there is a significant change in industry standards a student could petition to repeat the course through your local petition policies. However, note that the four takes within a family limit only applies to active participatory classes within physical education or visual and performing arts. One would think that students would be unlikely to repeat such classes for legally or employer mandated reasons. The types of courses likely to be legally or employer mandated for repeats would likely fall outside of the four takes in a family rule anyway. Also, note that significant lapse of time cannot be used to grant students an additional enrollment within those courses that do fall within the four takes in a family rule.

      5) The PCAH has not yet been updated to reflect the proposed regulations. Once the regulations become final, the PCAH will be changed.

  16. Kris Leppien-Christensen

    We are in the process of making changes to repeatability; however, some faculty are pushing back stating that they want to see where these changes are in writing. What is the best resource to point them to pending the Department of Finance approval?

  17. Amy Obegi

    I have a question regarding an ECE class (101) that was deliberately made broad and repeatable to respond quickly to community needs. It is a 1 unit class that could be adapted for professional development topic that needed addressing by a community partner or current subject. For examples we have done an environmental rating scale class to meet the needs of a local grant, or taught a baby signs class at the county office of education. Is it no longer possible to have these type of responsive/repeatable courses?

    Thank you for your guidance.

    1. jbruno

      The class you are describing seems to function as a special topics course, which are no longer repeatable. You may still have these courses in your curriculum, but students may only take the course once. Happily, the situation you describe provides a perfect opportunity for your college to discuss which courses should be credit and which may be appropriate for noncredit or community education.

      1. Matthew Jordan

        Julie, I have a question about Experimental Topics courses. Are these courses no longer repeatable (even if the topics change so that the course is totally different)?

        1. dmorse

          I’ll jump in for Julie on this one. Special or experimental topics classes can not be listed as repeatable. You can still have such classes and run them as you always have, but a student cannot take the class again if you change the topic. Any given student can only have one successful attempt at the course transcripted, whether the topic changes or not.

  18. Matthew Jordan

    When will the new repeatability changes go into effect? I understand that they will go into effect Fall of 2013. Is this correct? Will there be a window for colleges to implement the changes? Or should we be implementing them now? I ask because I am from a large community college that has over 900 courses with repeatability. Thank you.

    1. dmorse

      The changes are indeed expected to go into effect in Fall 2013. The changes are currently under review by the Department of Finance. Unless the DOF rejects them for fiscal reasons–and we do not expect that to happen, since they are expected to save the state money–Fall 2013 will be the active date.

      Therefore, yes, you should be working on implementing the changes now. We understand that for some colleges, this will involve a large number of courses. We suggest that you start from the assumption that nothing will be repeatable. Some curriculum committees have chosen to do a single motion that removes repeatability from all classes except for athletics. Then you can start working to rewrite or rearrange things in your curriculum and on restoring repeatability to those courses for which it will be allowed–which will, we expect, be very few.

      As you revise courses that were formerly repeatable, we urge you to think not of how you can preserve everything in your curriculum as it was, but rather of what students really need to complete their goals. This may mean deleting, at least for now, some classes or options from your curriculum. While none of us want to do this, it is the reality we are faced with. If you try to preserve everything as it was in your curriculum, you are really going against the spirit of the changes and are likely to create problems and frustration for yourself and others. But on the positive side, sticking to the things you really need may also lighten the load on your curriculum committee.

  19. Kim Bretz

    Couple Questions from our PE department:
    1) If we as a department feel that certain courses fit into a “family” – how do we flesh out if this is going to be acceptable PRIOR to modifying old courses/ creating new curriculum??? (Usually curriculum has to be created and put through curriculum committee before we get any feedback). We don’t want to spin our wheels for nothing. Obviously we want to MAXIMIZE our use of families without violating the rules… but we are unsure what’s acceptable… which freezes our ability to plan course layouts/ progressions. This seems especially vague when it comes to aerobic classes (step/ kick boxing/ spinning/ bootcamp/ and fitness center classes) What types of classes can be different families for fitness type classes? How are schools handling Fitness Center type classes?

    2)For Aquatics – the State Chancellors example had Swimming Skills 1, 2, 3, 4 OR lap swim, Masters Swim, Triathlon Training… as the example…implying they are in the same family… but in my mind swim skills classes (for technique) are very different then fitness swimming types of classes… can we seperate them? What about Shallow water fitness (non swim) classes?… different family?

    3)Athletics top code courses — I have heard they are only repeatable 2x (currently), then I’ve heard that Athletic top codes are repeatable up to 4 times…which one is correct? Also, is this regardless of the grade received? So, a Freshman can take “Football Conditioning” 4 semesters – even if they get an “A” each time – as long as they are not exceeding 175 hours in season and 175 hours out of season?
    The 175 in and 175 out of season includes ALL Athletic top code classes an athlete enters correct? So, if I was a coach and I wanted to ‘develop’ a curriculum for my sport, I would figure out which classes I wanted my athletes to take in and out of season to comply with the 350 hours, and IF I wanted them to take any additional hours/ types of courses, could I develop PE top coded courses that could be a “Family” that would get them through the 4 semesters that coorelated with their 2 years of eligibility… ie: “Football Basics 1″ , Football Basics 2”, “3”, “4”. Is this correct??
    How are ‘red shirt’ athletes figured in?
    If a regular student (non-athlete) took a Athletic Top code class – what rules regulate them? can they repeat it too?
    Is it up to the coach to track the 350 hour rules or is there some entity that does that on each campus?

    1. jbruno

      How you construct your “families” is very much a local decision made by discipline faculty with approval by the Curriculum Committee. You will probably want to meet with your curriculum chair to discuss the issues you raised in your comment. Faculty and committee members should be conservative when determining what constitutes a family. For example, given the situation you describe, if you set up a system where students can take ten or twelve different swimming classes, then you can probably expect that new regulations will be developed defining the families for you, and then every PE department in the state will be unhappy. We would strongly suggest that you organize families according to what students really need in order to achieve their educational goals and not as an attempt to allow students to take as many classes as possible. More information on families can be found in the document “Principles for Developing Families of Courses”, which was distributed by the Chancellor’s Office to all Chief Instructional Officers recently.

      Intercollegiate athletes may enroll in intercollegiate courses a maximum of 4 times, including Ws and substandard grades. Intercollegiate athletes are limited to 350 hours of attendance, 175 hours dedicated to the sport and 175 hours in skill development or conditioning for the sport.

      Yes, athletes could take other “families” of active participatory courses in PE but those PE classes are open to other students as well. Again, arranging courses into families is determined by local curriculum processes. The question your faculty would need to consider is do students need 4 classes in Football? The discussion at our colleges should not be about how to make all the current classes fit with the proposed regulations nor should it be looking for ways to keep doing all of the things we as faculty like doing. Rather, we should be asking what is really necessary for our students. The answers will likely be different at different colleges, and that is certainly appropriate but our focus should be on what courses, or series of courses, do students need to successfully reach their educational and career goals.

      Since the limitation on repeats for athletics classes is four, redshirt athletes should be covered. They should certainly not need more than four experiences.

      A repeatable class is repeatable for all students who enroll. If a regular student can qualify for an athletics class, then yes, the student could repeat it. But why would he or she be in the class in the first place? Do you normally have non-team members in your athletics classes? Again, we would urge you not to stretch the rules on this, or they will be changed to something that constrains us even more.

      The 350 hour limit is for purposes of apportionment. It is therefore tracked by your college or district for purposes of collecting apportionment funding.

  20. Beth Megill

    Is there a way to sign up to receive the posts to this discussion forum automatically? Or, must we continually check back with the site?

    Also, is there a way to thread the discussion for different areas?

    Perhaps I am asking too much, but I figured better to ask than not. . .

    Beth Megill (Dance- Moorpark College)

    1. dmorse

      Beth, the option to subscribe that now appears near the bottom of this page should take care of your first question. As to threading, I don’t think it is set up to do anything more sophisticated than the way we have it now. Sorry.

  21. Patricia Ewins

    I am concerned about “forcing” a dancer to move from A-D level of ballet in order to take it 4 times. A student starting at A level (beginning) will never be ready for D level (en pointe)in 4 semesters. Students enter and progress at different levels. Student may need to spend 3 semesters at level C before moving to level D. And you cannot have all levels (A–D) in the same class as the needs are very different. Thoughts?

    1. jbruno

      I can see that your concern comes from a desire to ensure that your students obtain the necessary skills for their future education and/or career. In light of the proposed changes to repeatability, it would be best to approach your concerns from a curriculum design perspective. How might you revise or develop your dancing curriculum to ensure that students can enter at an appropriate level and progress to attain the skills they need to succeed and persist? Each course in a “family” must have discrete objectives and content. How those courses in a sequence are designed are a local decision made by discipline faculty with approval of the Curriculum Committee. If a student is unable to meet the objectives and outcomes in course C , then that student should not receive a passing grade in that class and thus must take level C again (a situation which the proposed regulations takes into account in Section 55040(b)(2): substandard grades).

      As for taking the same class for three semesters and then moving on, remember that the student is limited to four enrollments in the family, including substandard grades and Ws. We are simply being told that students are not intended to remain in our programs and continue trying to pass for three or four years. We know this seems harsh, but it is the reality in which we are now designing or redesigning our programs.

      1. aueda

        In this case, if D level is required for transfer, you are saying that the students who cannot get to that level within 4 semesters must give up transfering in this discipline. Is that right?

        Please publish where we can read about this family regulations. All I’m reading here is what you are saying we must do. We’d like to be able to refer exactly how the regulations about family is worded and passed.

        1. jbruno

          Students are limited to 4 enrollments within a family. If a student began the family sequence at level A and progressed with through the levels A, B, C and D but failed in level D, that student would have “used up” his or her 4 enrollments, which includes substandard grades and Ws. Whether the student could transfer into the program at the university level would depend on the requirements for the program. If what you describe is the situation with the university program and the student who failed course D was not able to transfer, what other options might exist for the student? Hopefully this is an isolated incident. If that is the case, the discipline faculty may want to figure out if there is another way for the student to gain the knowledge and skills needed for the university program. Remember that the limit of four enrollments within a family refers to apportionment funding. There is nothing to preclude a college from utilizing a petition process and allowing a student who has reached the limit of enrollments within a family to take the course again, but the college would not receive apportionment for the student. This is a local decision that should be made with the interests of the students in mind. If students frequently fail the level D course, the faculty will want to adjust their curriculum to better serve the skill levels of their students.

          The proposed regulations may be found through the following link:

          You will need to scroll down to item #2.3 for the regulations.

  22. Rebecca Montes

    Our Athletics department has asked me if their Theory and Analysis courses are repeatable. These are lecture courses that intercollegiate athletes must take while they are enrolled in their sport. If they are repeatable – will they count towards the total 350 hours?

    1. dmorse

      Well, if such classes were coded as athletics, then yes, they would be included in the 350 hour limit. That much is definite. But really, these types of classes are not intended as athletics. The intent behind the 350 hour change was to allow for the sport class and the offseason conditioning. A lecture class really should be coded as kinesiology (which is the reason we created the new kinesiology TOP code) and thus would not be repeatable. If you code this as athletics, you would be cutting down on the time available for offseason training, but you would also really be going against the spirit the changes.

      I would urge you to think very carefully before doing this. Right now, you might get it through. But if we start stretching the limits or misapplying the new regulations, we are likely to get more regulation changes that are a lot more strict about what we can do. Everyone in the system would suffer from that. I would very much urge you to think about the appropriateness and potential long-term consequences of coding a lecture class as athletics and repeatable.

  23. Rich Cameron

    Our Art Department hit me with a question the other day I was unable to answer. It has a 2-D drawing class that serves as the introductory course –but not pre-requisite– for several family pathways. Can/should a course be placed in multiple families and what would be the implications? Could this course be excluded from families, even though one of the pathways would be drawing?

    1. jbruno

      This is really a local decision for your discipline faculty and Curriculum Committee to make. There is nothing that precludes the inclusion of a course such as the one you are describing in a more than one family. Of course, the courses in families must be “related in content” and the provision that a student can enroll a maximum of 4 times still applies.