Updated December 2016

Academic Progress Tracking (APT)

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The process by which Interstate Passport® student performance is monitored. Passport Network institutions upload data to the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) at the end of each term on the students awarded a Passport and on the academic progress of relevant transfer and native students. NSC calculates aggregate academic progress data for each of the three populations reported by receiving institutions, sorts it by Network member sending institutions, and produces and delivers reports to the sending institutions about the performance of their former students, and aggregated information to the Passport Review Board.

Academic Year

The period of time generally extending from September to June; usually equated to two semesters or trimesters, three quarters, or the period covered by a 4-1-4 calendar system.

Articulation agreement

A formal agreement (or some might call a partnership) between two or more colleges and universities documenting the transfer policies for a specific academic program or degree in general. In many cases such an agreement will allow a student to apply credits earned in specific programs at one institution toward advanced standing, entry or transfer into a specific program at the other institution. The Interstate Passport is a type of articulation agreement.


Process or instrument for determining the level of proficiency acquired by a student upon completion of a unit of study. The most common types of assessments are objective exams (e.g., multiple choice, true/false, matching and short answer exams), essay exams, written assignments such as papers, reports, review of subject matter), oral exams or recitations and portfolios.

Associate degree

A degree containing no remedial or adult education courses that is awarded primarily by junior colleges, community colleges, and technical institutes, and is designed to be completed in two years of full-time study or the part-time equivalent.

Associate transfer degree

An associate degree comprised only of college-level courses that contains no remedial or adult education courses and is wholly or principally creditable toward a baccalaureate degree.

Block credit transfer

Allows credits earned to transfer en masse. Also known as block transfer, it is typically applicable to general education or prerequisite courses.

Community college

A college that primarily offers academic and/or technical education programs designed to be completed in two years or less of full time study, with the associate degree the highest degree awarded in most or all programs.


The part of the general education curriculum that is required of all students. Course: A credit-bearing unit of instruction offered by an academic institution.


A credit-bearing unit of instruction offered by an academic institution.


The unit used to gauge the amount of academic study that the student has completed. A student earns one academic credit for (or for the equivalent of) one hour of classroom instruction and two hours of out of class preparation each week. A semester credit translates to 1.5 quarter credits. For example, 30 semester credits (one full-time year) is the equivalent of 45 quarter credits (also one full- time year).

Credit hour

A course credit (often credit hour, or just credit or “unit”) is a unit that gives weighting to the value, level or time requirements of an academic course taken at an educational institution.

Crosscutting Skill Areas

Part of the Interstate Passport framework; two Passport skill areas – critical thinking and teamwork and value systems – that can be found across multiple lower-division general education disciplines/content areas.

Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP)

Developed by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the DQP is a template of proficiencies required for the award of college degrees at the associate, bachelor and master’s levels. It describes the knowledge, skills and applications that prepare graduates to succeed in the economy, civil society and their own lives.


An electronic portfolio. (See “portfolio”.)


Equal in value, measure, force, effect, significance. For example, two different courses covering the same subject matter.

Foundational Skills

Part of the Interstate Passport framework; three Passport skill areas – oral communication, written communication, and quantitative literacy – of lower-division general education considered foundational in nature.

Four-Year School

Institution that awards the majority of credentials as baccalaureate degrees or higher.

General Education

Learning experiences that expose students to the humanities, social sciences and sciences, and also provide them with communication, critical thinking and quantitative skills necessary to succeed in their continuing academic endeavors and as effective contributors to their community following completion of their postsecondary education.


A count or total of the number of students enrolled, used for full-time equivalent (FTE) and other calculations. For example, the number of FTE students is calculated by IPEDS based on fall student full-time and part-time headcounts as reported by the institution. The full-time equivalent of an institution’s part-time enrollment is estimated by calculations based on specific factors (such as undergraduate enrollment, public or private institution, two- or four-year institution). These are then added to the full-time enrollment headcounts to obtain an FTE for all students enrolled in the fall. (IPEDS glossary.)

High Impact Practices (HIPs)

HIPs include first year seminars and experiences, common intellectual experiences, learning communities, writing intensive courses, collaborative assignments and projects, undergraduate research, diversity/global learning, service learning/community-based learning and internships and capstone courses and projects. Participation in HIPs is correlated with student success in and completion of their academic programs. More about LEAP

Institution Liaison

The individual appointed by an institution to coordinate the activities of its staff (faculty, registrars, institutional researchers, academic advisors, campus marketing representatives) as the institution applies for membership and/or participates in the Interstate Passport Network.

Interstate Passport

A program that facilitates block transfer of lower-division general education based on a set of learning outcomes rather than on specific courses and credits.

Interstate Passport Framework

The structure of the Interstate Passport comprised of the nine lower-division general education knowledge of concepts and skill areas, with three different components for each area: (1) the Passport Learning Outcome Feature, which describes the category of the outcome (for example, fundamentals, basic information); (2) Passport Learning Outcomes, or what a student is expected to know or be able to do; and (3) Passport Proficiency Criteria, examples of faculty-generated assignments or activities by which students provide evidence that the learning outcomes have been achieved.

Interstate Passport Network

A consortium of accredited, public and private, two-year and four-year, non-profit institutions authorized to award a Passport (for short, “Network”).

Knowledge of Concept Areas

Part of the Interstate Passport framework; four Passport content areas of lower-division general education: natural sciences, human cultures, creative expression, and human society and the individual (social sciences).

LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes

The Essential Learning Outcomes (ELOs) developed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities as part of its Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) campaign are a set of “Principles of Excellence providing a new framework to guide students’ cumulative progress through college. For more information, see https://www.aacu.org/leap/essential- learning-outcomes.

Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes are clear, concise, and assessable statements of the knowledge and skills that a student will acquire, understand and be able to use in unfamiliar situations upon completion of a course or other unit of study.

Loss of Credits

Credits that a student earns that are not applied toward completion of the degree or program that the student elects to complete.

Lower-Division Course

A lower-division course is a non-remedial postsecondary course that earns college credit and is intended to be completed while the student is engaged in the first half of the academic requirements for a Bachelor’s degree. Such courses usually bear a 1XX or 2XX course number.

Lower-Division General Education (LDGE)

General education requirements at colleges and universities are designed to give undergraduates a broad background in many major academic disciplines — natural sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, humanities and fine arts. The lowest or entry-level courses that students take in their first two years are considered lower division. General education (GE) requirements must be satisfied or waived to receive a degree. Often students can satisfy some GE requirements before entry to the institution through high school coursework, dual credit, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate curricula or assessments.

Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC)

One of four statutorily created interstate compacts, founded in 1991 that serves 12 member states in the Midwestern region of the country. Its purpose is to provide greater higher education opportunities and services in the Midwestern region, with the aim of furthering regional access to, research in and choice of higher education. Member states are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Native student

A student who enrolls in an institution as a freshman, and not as a transfer student, sometimes termed a freshman-entry student.

New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE)

One of four statutorily created interstate compacts, founded in 1955 that serves six member states in New England: Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. NEBHE works to promote programs and best practices; assist the states in implementing important regional higher education policies; promote regional cooperation and programs that encourage the efficient use and sharing of educational resources; and provide leadership to strengthen the relationship between higher education and the economic well- being of New England.


A milestone of lower-division general education completion earned by a student who achieves the Passport Learning Outcomes (PLOs) at the transfer level of proficiency at an Interstate Passport Network member institution, and which is documented on the student record by the institution. Learning achieved via the Passport transfers as a block to another participating Network member institution; students with a Passport do not have to repeat or take additional coursework to meet the lower-division general education requirements. (The term “Passport” should not be used as an adjective.)

  • Currently, only one type of Passport is available—Passport Lower-Division General Education (Passport-LDGE)—which includes PLOs in nine knowledge and skill areas (oral communication, written communication, quantitative literacy, natural sciences, human cultures, creative expression, human society and the individual, creative thinking, and teamwork and value systems).
  • Passport-Phase I or Passport-Foundational, awarded between 2013 and 2015 by 12 institutions, during the proof of concept project, consisted of the PLOs in three foundational skill areas. Those students who earned a Passport-Foundational may be eligible to earn a Passport-LDGE by achieving the PLOs in the remaining six areas. Otherwise, the Passport-Foundational was retired on September 1, 2016.

Passport Block

The list of lower-division general education courses and/or learning experiences by which the Passport Learning Outcomes are achieved. The faculty at each Passport institution is responsible for constructing the institution’s Passport Block and updating it as appropriate. Passport Blocks of Network member institutions are posted on the Interstate Passport’s website..Passport earner—A student who has earned a Passport at a member institution of the Interstate Passport Network.

Passport Feature

Topics that help to index or categorize the Passport Learning Outcomes in each knowledge and skill area (for example, fundamentals, basic information).

Passport Learning Outcomes (PLO)

Learning outcomes are statements – what a student should know or be able to do – developed by faculty members of Network member institutions in the nine knowledge and skill areas in the Passport framework.

Passport Mapping Specialists (PMS)

Individual at each of the participating institutions in the Mapping pilot who served as the primary contact and coordinator of the faculty’s work in the project on his/her campus. The PMS participated in ongoing planning sessions with project staff, NCHEMS, and Taskstream to plan and support project activities, participated in a train-the-trainer mapping workshop, and led faculty through the steps of selecting and scoring a sample of critical assignments and the responding student artifacts from courses in its institution’s Passport Block.

Passport Review Board (PRB)

The policy-making body of the Interstate Passport Network. Members include the Passport State Facilitators who represent their constituents on the Board and serve unlimited terms. Other individuals, selected to serve at large for a two-year term, have special expertise relevant to Interstate Passport issues and operations.


Service provided by the National Student Clearinghouse – similar to the Degree Verify service currently offered to all NSC participating institutions – that allows Interstate Passport Network institutions to query the Clearinghouse to find out if an incoming transfer student has earned the Passport and if so, where and when.

Passport-Seeking Student

A student who is working toward earning a Passport at a member institution of the Interstate Passport Network.

Passport State Facilitator

The individual who serves as the state’s expert on the Interstate Passport and assists institutions, through their institution liaisons, to become members of the Interstate Passport Network; the PSF also represents his/her state’s member institutions on the Passport Review Board.

Passport Student

A student who has earned a Passport at an institution participating in the Interstate Passport Network.


A portfolio is a structured collection of student work, assembled by the student following guidelines, which is used both for guided reflection upon, and demonstration of, the extent to which the student has mastered a set of learning objectives. Primary Transfer Institution: Institution from which the reporting institution accepted the largest number (not percent) of credits toward degree completion; in case of a tie, institution that the student attended most recently.

Proficiency Criteria (PC)

Part of the Interstate Passport framework, proficiency criteria are examples, not requirements, of student assignments or activities that demonstrate proficiency of the learning outcome appropriate at the transfer level. Faculty members at Passport institutions developed a number of proficiency criteria for each Passport Learning Outcome across the nine knowledge and skill areas, drawing from current practice. Faculty at Network member institutions develop their own ways to determine a student proficiency with the learning outcomes.

Receiving Institution

In the Interstate Passport program, the institution to which a student transfers – the institution receiving the transfer student.

Regional Compacts

Regional organizations, three of which were established by the U.S. Congress in the 1950s, to facilitate the sharing of information and resources among stakeholders in the higher education community. The four regional compacts are: Midwestern Higher Education Compact, New England Board of Higher Education, Southern Regional Education Board, and Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. The states of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania do not belong to any of the regional compacts.

Reverse Transfer

A process where academic credits for course work completed at a four-year university are transferred back to a community college or two-year institution to satisfy associate degree requirements. The term also applies to several other approaches, including the granting of associate degrees by four-year institutions for credits previously earned elsewhere, or as part of “pathways” where transfer students finish their associate degree at a four-year college. Also, some students go back to earn an associate degree after getting a bachelor’s degree in another field.


Stated criterion that is used to evaluate an activity or a product. In the Interstate Passport Mapping Pilot, there are two sets of rubrics: one for scoring critical assignments addressing the PLOs and one for scoring proficiency in student artifacts responding to the assignments.

Sending Institution

In the Interstate Passport program, the institution from which a student transfers – the institution “sending” the transfer student to another institution.

Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)

One of four regional compacts created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislators, SREB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of 16 member states headquartered in Atlanta. The Board includes the governor and four gubernatorial appointees from each member state, including at least one state legislator and one educator. The Legislative Advisory Council of legislators from each state advises the Board. The organization maintains its focus on critical issues that hold the promise of improving quality of life by advancing public education. Member states are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

Student FTE

FTE stands for full-time equivalent. A student enrolled for 12 or more semester credits, or 12 or more quarter credits, or 24 or more contact hours a week each term may be deemed a full-time student. From the IPEDS Glossary: the full-time equivalent FTE of students is a single value providing a meaningful combination of full-time and part-time students. Calculations of FTE students may use fall student headcounts or 12-month instructional activity. The number of FTE students is calculated based on the credit and/or contact hours reported by an institution.


An official report supplied by a school on the record of an individual student, listing subjects studied, grades received, etc.


To withdraw from one institution and enter another.

Transfer credit

Credit that is earned at one institution that satisfies some of the degree requirements of a second institution.

Transfer student

A student who already has college credits and withdraws from one institution to enroll in another and transfers those credits to the second institution.


A process of faculty collaboration, within an academic discipline, that identifies student learning outcomes and competencies expected through each degree level – associate, bachelor, and masters’ degrees. In tuning, faculty determine not only the learning outcomes and competencies at each successive level of depth, but the methods that students may use to demonstrate attainment of competencies. These methods include high-impact practices such as e-portfolios, group projects and written research papers. The process is transparent and clearly communicates to students, parents, employers and policy makers what students are expected to know, understand, and do at each degree level. (The Tuning USA project is funded by Lumina Foundation.)

Two-year institution

Institution that awards the majority of credentials as certificates or associate degrees, not baccalaureate degrees.

Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)

Regional organization created by the Western Regional Education Compact and adopted in the 1950s by Western states; operations began in 1953. WICHE was created to facilitate resource sharing among the higher education systems of the West. It is governed by three gubernatorially appointed commissioners from each member, which includes 15 Western states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Member states are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.