Recent Blog Posts

Reverse Transfer Convening: Expanding Conversations and Surfacing Impacts

On June 8-9, the 16 Credit When It’s Due (CWID) grantees convened in Indianapolis, Indiana to reflect on key issues facing states with the implementation of reverse transfer degrees and to discuss sustainability for these efforts. Twenty-three additional states and representatives from several national organizations joined the convening to engage in this discussion and mine the lessons learned.

This blog highlights a few take-aways from the CWID convening and shares links to key resources and materials from the convening. The convening offered an opportunity for the CWID states to share lessons learned among the other grantees and the non-CWID states.

1. The CWID grant has impacts beyond reverse transfer. It was evident during the convening and through OCCRL’s research that reverse transfer implementation efforts brought to the surface many existing inefficiencies in the transfer process that reach beyond reverse transfer. For example, the technology infrastructure to exchange student transcript data and audit degrees is often inadequate and outdated. Similarly, course articulation tables and equivalencies are sometimes nonexistent or not maintained in many institutions. Reverse transfer has prompted discussions about and investments in updated technologies and enhanced course equivalency and articulation tables.

2. Reverse transfer needs to be integrated into existing systems and student pathways. Several attendees observed that reverse transfer is a promising strategy that needs to be integrated into existing systems and existing student pathways. This prompts questions about the optimal time for students to transfer (before or after receiving the associate’s degree) and how states and institutions can ensure reverse transfer is not simply an afterthought but an intentional and integrated marker of students’ educational pathways.

3. Reverse transfer policies are elevating questions about the value of the associate’s degree. Which students should receive an associate’s degree? Traditionally, students enrolled at a university are pursuing a bachelor’s degree, not an associate’s degree. Reverse transfer policies challenge this dominant tradition, particularly for the 40% of transfer students who do not earn a bachelor’s degree within four years of transfer. It was clear through the convening and through OCCRL research that not all stakeholders understand the value of the associate’s degree. Reverse transfer policies and programs have led to new discussions about the value of the associate’s degree among the general public, students, policymakers, and university and community college leaders and staff.

4. As of June 2015, more than 7000 reverse transfer credentials were conferred by eleven CWID states.  The number of reverse transfer credentials conferred among the CWID states grew from 3000 in March 2014 to over 7000 in eleven states by June 2015. Several states are still developing and investing in technology that will enable automation and scaling, so this number continues to grow as many states are not yet implementing reverse transfer at scale.

5. Interest in reverse transfer is growing. Reverse transfer programs and policies are in their infancy, and the national interest in reverse transfer was shown by the 38 states that attended the event. Among the 23 non-CWID states in attendance, approximately half indicated they were piloting or implementing reverse transfer, and the other half indicated they were exploring or planning reverse transfer.

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The states that were funded by CWID to develop and implement reverse transfer have generated a wealth of research and practical information. OCCRL collected and aggregated convening resources on the CWID website. At this website, you can find links to the convening agenda, CWID state profiles that provide details about reverse transfer policies, OCCRL’s research presentation, presentations by the National Student Clearinghouse and the Missouri Reverse Transfer, OCCRL research papers and briefs, and much more.

Jason L. Taylor is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah. He received his PhD in higher education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a research specialization in evaluation methods and concentration in public policy. His broad research interests are at the intersection of community college and higher education policy and educational and social inequality. Dr. Taylor has conducted and led several quantitative and mixed methods studies related to college readiness, developmental education, adult pathways to college, dual credit/enrollment and early college experiences, transfer policy and reverse transfer, LGBTQ students and educational access and equity. He is currently the Co-PI with Dr. Debra Bragg and co-leading the research agenda for the Credit When It’s Due initiative, a 15-state effort to develop and implement reverse transfer programs and policies.

OCCRL Joins as a Co-Sponsor of the National Credentialing Dialogue

Recently the Office of Community College Research and Leadership signed on to be a co-sponsor of The Lumina Foundation’s dialogue on ways to transform the credentialing system into a student-centered and learning-based national model. We applaud Lumina’s efforts to steer this countrywide conversation, as reform of the nation’s credentialing system would bolster educational access and academic quality, and promote postsecondary educational mobility and attainment. Along with their partners at the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW) and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), the Lumina Foundation will host a series of discussions throughout the remainder of this year. The dialogue promises to engage educators, policymakers, and various stakeholder groups in outlining the challenges with current credentialing and identifying opportunities for improvement that will foster attainment of requisite skills needed to compete and succeed in today’s global workforce.

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How will you spark conversations about credentialing in the U.S.? What should national reform and promotion of a reimagined credentials framework entail? As an R&D organization with deep experience evaluating pathways and programs of study that utilize competency-based education and stackable credentials, OCCRL welcomes the opportunity to contribute our expertise to this important national dialogue on credentials. Lumina is listening and invites all of us to delve into the dialogue on how best to connect credentials and competencies. For more information, framing questions, and to join the dialogue visit A National Dialogue on Building Learning-Based Credentialing Systems.

EboniEboni Zamani-Gallaher is a professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership in the College of Education at Illinois and the Director of OCCRL. Her research centers on access and collegiate experiences of marginalized students at two- and four-year institutions of higher education.

Does the Associate’s Degree Matter? Evidence from Hawaii and Ohio

We know the associate’s degree matters for students’ employment outcomes, but what, if any, impact does the associate’s degree have on transfer students’ bachelor’s degree outcomes? In the third Data Note in the CWID Data Note series, I examined this question using data from the CWID Baseline Study in two states.

Confirming prior research in this area, I found that the associate’s degree matters, but so does the type of associate’s degree. Descriptively, Figure 1 shows that in both Hawaii and Ohio, the bachelor’s degree attainment rate was higher by at least 10% for students who completed an associate’s degree prior to transfer. However, these results did not control for other factors that might influence transfer students’ bachelor’s degree attainment.


Figure 1. Bachelor’s Degree Attainment within Four Years of Transfer

Controlling for other pre-transfer factors such as demographics, transfer GPA, and credits earned prior to transfer, Figure 2 shows that transfer students who completed transfer associate’s degrees such as the Associate of Arts (HI & OH) and the Associate of Science (OH) were significantly more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree compared to students who transferred with applied associate’s degrees such as the Associate of Science (HI) and the Associate of Applied Science (OH).

The results from this study have implications for transfer at large and illustrate perennial questions related to transfer policies, including how the transferability (or lack of transferability) of credit impacts students. Many students who receive applied associate’s degrees have bachelor’s degree aspirations and transfer to a four-year institution, but the lack of credit transferability may be negatively impacting their bachelor’s degree attainment. These results suggest that transfer associate’s degrees aligned with traditional transfer pathways are more likely to lead to successful transfer than applied associate’s degrees.


Figure 2. Average Marginal Effects

Jason L. Taylor is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah. He received his PhD in higher education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a research specialization in evaluation methods and concentration in public policy. His broad research interests are at the intersection of community college and higher education policy and educational and social inequality. Dr. Taylor has conducted and led several quantitative and mixed methods studies related to college readiness, developmental education, adult pathways to college, dual credit/enrollment and early college experiences, transfer policy and reverse transfer, LGBTQ students and educational access and equity. He is currently the Co-PI with Dr. Debra Bragg and co-leading the research agenda for the Credit When It’s Due initiative, a 15-state effort to develop and implement reverse transfer programs and policies.

 

Dual Credit Funding in Illinois: Affording Student Access and Participation

On January 9, 2015, President Obama unveiled plans for broadening participation in postsecondary education and forwarding the administration’s college completion agenda. America’s College Promise is President Obama’s proposal to make community colleges free for all students who “make steady progress toward completing their program of study” and maintain a 2.5 GPA. According to the White House, federal funding will cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college attendance while states are expected to cover the remaining costs. Making community college education as universal as K-12 would increase access while addressing issues of affordability that concern many families. Given the escalating costs of a college education, opportunities to extend postsecondary study are timely in a competitive knowledge-based global economy.

Across the U.S., partnerships that increase access and accelerate pathways to college are occurring between secondary schools and community colleges. One such initiative is dual credit programming. While dual enrollment and dual credit are referred to interchangeably in the literature, there are nuances in concurrent programs. In the state of Illinois, dual credit is based on the Illinois Community College Board definition of dual credit as, “An instructional arrangement where an academically qualified student currently enrolled in high school enrolls in a college level course and, upon successful course completion, concurrently earns both college credit and high school credit.” Hence, this includes students enrolled in college courses that are delivered at their respective high schools with their high school teachers; it could also include students taking the courses on campus with a community college faculty and in some instances an online course. As such, the costs of dual credit and who pays varies based on the community college and partnering high schools given the number of secondary teachers that hold a masters degree or have a minimum of 18 hours in the discipline to deliver college credit courses. Notwithstanding the structure of dual credit funding models in Illinois varies widely. Community colleges are often criticized for charging dual credit tuition and fees; however, comparing and contrasting different program models when evaluating dual credit costs shows strata in affordability and access.

OCCRL researchers evaluated dual credit funding models in the state of Illinois releasing a  report on dual credit funding (Taylor, Fisher, & Bragg, 2014). Of the 36 institutions responding to the survey, 13 community colleges charge tuition ranging up to $410 per 3-credit hour course and 20 charge fees ranging up to $91 per 3-credit hour course. However, such aggregate information regarding dual credit costs does not tell us which funding designs most effectively promote low-income and underrepresented racial minority student access and participation. In revisiting the survey conducted by Taylor, Fisher, and Bragg (2014), the preponderance of dual credit offering by responding community colleges in Illinois aligns with affording access to accelerated pathways to college. The following infographic demonstrates over one-third of the responding institutions provide free community college tuition and no fees.

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Prior studies have shown that there is differential access to dual credit opportunities by income and race/ethnicity (recently noted by OCCRL faculty affiliate Jason Taylor as cited by Marcus, 2015). Although a fair amount of free tuition and no fee based dual credit is available, a considerable number of dual credit opportunities involve tuition and/or fee charges (e.g., courses on campus with college instructors, students are charged full tuition with few exceptions; when courses are offered at the high school by college faculty, students are charged partial to full tuition).

At present, OCCRL researchers are completing a dual credit funding follow-up that explores the effectiveness of dual credit funding, colleges’ efforts to broaden participation, and dual enhancement efforts. This is an exciting time for the study of dual credit as not only a question of tuition and fee policies, but also in terms of program designs and their impact on special populations access and participation. OCCRL is pleased to continue exploring these questions and themes. Please check back for the dual credit funding follow up study research brief in July 2015.

Marcus, J. (2015, May/June). Getting a jump on college: Dual enrollment gives high
schoolers academic momentum. Harvard Education Letter, 31(3), 4-6.

Taylor, J., Fisher, D., & Bragg, D. (2014). Dual credit funding models in Illinois community colleges. Champaign, IL: Office of Community College Research and Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

JaniceJanice L. North is a graduate research assistant for Dual Credit Funding Models project OCCRL. Janice is passionate about studying the availability and quality of academic programs and student services that impact students’ college access, persistence, and graduation.

 

Ariana ConnerAriana Conner served as an undergraduate assistant for OCCRL. She recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in news-editorial journalism with a public relations certificate.

New Release: Single Parents in the Community College

Single Parents ImageOCCRL is pleased to announce the release of Volume 11 of its Insights on Equity and Outcomes series. A Portrait of Single Student Parents: Financial and Academic Barriers to a Postsecondary Degree, funded by the Illinois Community College Board and written by Carmen Gioiosa and Heather McCambly, provides an overview of research into single student parents’ presence and experiences on community college campuses, along with key recommendations for supporting their success.

Obtaining a postsecondary credential can provide economic security and social mobility for single parent families while unleashing a potential wealth of human capital to meet the nation’s workforce needs (White House, 2011). Raising children while working and pursuing a postsecondary degree presents challenges for any family; however, single student parents often encounter additional obstacles as they strive to complete their degrees in a timely manner. Single student parents find themselves having to fit into the mold of a traditional college student, typically a student without dependents, because financial, academic, and social supports are designed for traditional students (Cerven, 2013; Graham & Bassett, 2011; Santiago, 2013). If higher education institutions better understood the challenges faced by single student parents, they could develop policies and programs to help this population achieve more equitable outcomes in terms of persistence and completion (Fenster, 2004; Goldrick-Rab, 2009; Mason, 2002; Yakaboski, 2010).

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Heather McCambly is the Project Coordinator for the Pathways to Results Initiative at the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL). Prior to moving to Illinois, Heather was a Program Associate in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success at the Association of American Colleges and Universities.