ASPA’s National Council has approved a policy paper on strategic federal pay. Moving Towards a More Strategic Federal Pay Comparability Policy proposes two recommendations to increase efficiency and effectiveness in compensation systems.
The first recommendation suggests that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) propose to the Administration and Congress that the current practice of allowing for one pay adjustment to the General Schedule system be amended to allow for multiple pay adjustments by grade level. This revision would be theoretically in-line with existing locality pay adjustments and specialty pay rate plans for GS employees. The second recommendation suggests that OPM propose adjustments to the current GS system to increase the salary range within grade levels. Increasing the salary range within the existing system would have the benefit of easing pay compression for highly skilled positions and addressing pay comparability at higher grade levels, while avoiding many of the shortcomings traditionally associated with pay-banding.
Given the role of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) as the federal government’s lead human resources management agency, the policy paper is intended to serve as a resource for OPM by critically assessing existing mechanisms for setting General Schedule (GS) pay rates and providing specific policy recommendations on how these mechanisms can be restructured in light of growing calls for more efficient and effective compensation systems. To review the paper in its entirety, please click here.
A high percentage of community college students entering secondary education require remediation in the critical areas of math, reading and writing. Reports such as one in Florida’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Governmental Accountability (Report No. 07-31 2007) put the figure at over 50%. Other sources are more moderate, such as the National Center for Education Statistics with its estimate of 28%. Although I will refrain here from commenting on how this reflects upon our educational system (these students graduated high school), as an instructor in higher education I will proudly say these are many of my students. Students who want to learn, who are eager to increase their knowledge and skills.
Some believe that students should first get through all of their required developmental classes. That seems a rational requirement. However, for some students that means four or more courses that don’t reflect the course of study they are excited to pursue! Imagine: You have your heart set on a business degree, but you have to endure two (or more!) semesters without setting foot in a business course. I’ve seen many of my new advisees, first semester students, completely despondent and discouraged because of this predicament. Within a few minutes in my office, a transformation takes place as I guide them to register for at least one class in their major: They start to smile, their energy picks up. They become excited once again at having made the decision to continue their education.
The challenge, of course, is to aid them in this quest while not compromising on the quality of education they–or their colleagues–receive. One of the courses I teach has no prerequisite, so a mix of students is common in my classes. I take my responsibilities as an educator seriously, so I do not compromise high standards. Each student is expected to work hard and to achieve specific learning outcomes. However, I balance lecture with conversation, reading with practice, theory with practical information, and tests that are comprehensive yet diverse enough in format to give all students an opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve learned. I give feedback regarding things like grammar and punctuation when I can, but I do not penalize students for mistakes if it is clear they have given it their very best effort. I teach them studying and note taking strategies, foster critical thinking, and support them as they develop a style that works for them.
On an institutional level, great strides are being made in developing systems to support developmental students. Learning communities seem to be effective, as is skillful academic advising. Institutionally we have recognized the need to better serve this large segment of our student population. For instructors however, make no mistake: It is not easy to organize a college level course in which there are high performers and students in the midst of remedial work. But it is worth it.
Robyn-Jay Bage, M.P.A.
Ms. Bage is a nonprofit CEO and Assistant Community College Professor