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Research and Reports

Program Reports

2016-2017 Passport Annual Report
Why General Education

"The Interstate Passport® is built around the general education core because that is the part of a degree that most colleges and universities have in common.

That commonality is no coincidence. Lengthy discussion over time among educators, employers, and others have led to agreement that today's 'general education' plays a critical role in preparation for students' major programs of study, as well as for life as employees or entrepreneurs and as citizens of our communities and our country. How does general education do that? And is it the same everywhere?"

2015-2016 Passport Annual Report

Program Handbooks

Faculty Handbook: Constructing Your Institution's Passport Block (March 2017 Edition)

This handbook is designed for faculty members at new and prospective Network member institutions. It describes the process for constructing an institution’s Passport Block. The handbook offers the steps to follow and includes examples of current Passport Blocks and a sample worksheet. The appendices include a Glossary of Terms, and the matrices of all nine Passport knowledge and skill areas with Features, Passport Learning Outcomes, and Proficiency Criteria.

Faculty Handbook: Creating the Passport Learning Outcomes and Transfer-Level Proficiency Criteria

Faculty from the Passport institutions, through an interstate negotiation process, developed the Passport Learning Outcomes and Proficiency Criteria in nine knowledge and skill areas. This handbook serves as a comprehensive guide to the process and to the overall project. It describes the specific role and tasks of faculty, and includes descriptions of the nine Passport knowledge and skill areas. The handbook also provides information about the academic progress tracking process, application porcess, and the Passport Review Board.

Handbook for Registrars and Institutional Researchers (November 2016)

This handbook is a valuable tool for registrars and IR staff. It provides background information on the project as well as detailed descriptions of the specific tasks and responsibilities of registrars and institutional researchers, guiding principles, and the data elements for data collection. The Handbook will be updated as necessary as the program continues to evolve and expand.

Handbook for Academic Advisors and Marketing Communications Staff

Program Reports

The Role of the Faculty

Only faculty have the experience and expertise to determine what learning outcomes should result from general education. By gathering faculty together for conversations about student learning, we find much common ground about objectives and outcomes across disciplines and between institutions. Faculty engagement and expertise were crucial to the development of an Interstate Passport program.

Passport Process Model

Internal Research

Successful Student Transfer: A Key Building Block of the Completion Agenda (November 2014)

This paper provides a high-level overview of today’s transfer marketplace, including its general characteristics and impact on degree completion. It looks at how the Interstate Passport’s new block transfer framework can streamline the transfer process for lower-division general education, providing benefits to both students and institutions. And it highlights how the results of the Interstate Passport and other state and national initiatives addressing academic quality may help transfer students have coherent learning experiences that ensure their academic progress.

Interstate Passport Initiative: A Policy Brief on Phase I (January 2014)

The Interstate Passport Initiative, launched in October 2011, initially as a regional project of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), addresses the problems of interstate student transfer. In the two-year pilot project (Phase I), working with 23 institutions in five Western states – California, Hawaii, North Dakota, Oregon and Utah – the initiative produced a new transfer framework that is based on learning outcomes.

Student Transfer Patterns in the WICHE States: A Look at the Fall 2006 Cohort (January 2013)

This report presents context and background of the Interstate Passport Initiative by examining the student transfer picture of the fall 2006 cohort in the 15 WICHE states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming).

Overview of State Policies on Lower-­division General Education Core in the WICHE States (2012)

This document provides an overview of the current policies around the lower-division general education core in the WICHE states and presents the general education credits required in each state. By examining the existing policies and conducting our pilot project, we hoped to highlight particular policies or practices that may be effective models for exploration and replication by other states, identify where some strategies might need to change in order to support the new transfer framework, and pinpoint likely places where the Interstate Passport Initiative may be expanded.

General Education Policies in the WICHE States (2012)

External Research

The Transfer Maze: The High Cost to Students and the State of California

By: The Campaign for College Opportunity, September 2017

Highlights the critical role transfer plays in producing college graduates and providing economic opportunity.

View the article here.
The Great Out-of-State Migration: Where Students Go

By: Nick Strayer. New York Times, August 26, 2017

A recent article in the New York Times reports that the number of out-of-state freshmen attending public colleges and universities has nearly doubled since 1986. The Great Out-of-State Migration: Where Students Go (August 26, 2017) presents 2014 data from the U.S. Department of Education that shows the flow of students for each state: the number who leave for college elsewhere, and the number of students coming in from other states.

View the article here.
Higher Education: Students Need More Information to Help Reduce Challenges in Transferring College Credits

By: Government Accounting Office, August 2017

This report provides baseline data both about the number of students who change colleges and about the cost to those students and to taxpayers when those students lose credits.

View the article here.
State of American Higher Education Outcomes

By: Michael Itzkowitz, The Third Way, July 2017

A new report from Third Way, a public policy and advocacy organization, makes urgent the need for an effective and affordable higher education system – stating that higher education “is now a necessity, not a luxury.” State of American Higher Education Outcomes by Michael Itzkowitz (July 2017) illustrates that achieving better postsecondary outcomes must be a priority for policymakers.

View the article here.
Signature 13 Tracking Transfer: Measures of Effectiveness in Helping Community College Students to Complete Bachelor’s Degrees

By: Douglas Shapiro, Afet Dundar, F. Huie, P.K. Wakhungu, X. Yuan, A. Nathan & Y, Hwang. National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, September 2017

"This report is an update of the January 2016 Transfer Tracking report, which was a collaboration among the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College, Columbia, and Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. The first in an annual series from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, this report investigates postsecondary student transfer outcomes in order to provide institutions and states with metrics for benchmarking and measuring community college student completion progress. Findings reveal that out of 852,439 students who first enrolled at a community college in fall 2010, 31.5 percent (268,749) transferred to a four-year institution within six years. Forty-two percent of those who transferred earned a bachelor’s degree within six years of starting in the community college (just 13 percent of the original starting cohort). "

Is It Really Cheaper to Start at a Community College? The Consequences of Inefficient Transfer for Community College Students Seeking Bachelor's Degrees

By: Clive R. Belfield, John Fink, and Davis Jenkins, Community College Research Center, May 2017

"For many students who intend to complete a bachelor’s degree, the savings from starting their undergraduate education at a community college is a major factor in their college choice. Yet, given inefficiencies in pathways through college and in the credit transfer process, initially attending a two-year college may be a false economy. In this paper we investigate whether it is more efficient for students to start at a two-year or four-year college if their intent is to complete a bachelor’s degree."

Improving the Odds: An Empirical Look at the Factors that Influence Upward Transfer

American Council on Education: Center for Policy Research and Strategy; Hobsons

​"This brief is the first in a series of three, exploring outcomes for recent high school graduates who begin their postsecondary education in one of our nation’s more than 1,100 community colleges. For years, practitioners, researchers, and policymakers have been concerned by the fact that too few students successfully navigate the complex process of transferring from a two- to four-year institution. As such, we explored student- and institutional-level factors that influence the likelihood of upward transfer for students who enroll in community college directly after high school. Drawing from the results of a multilevel regression model and supporting literature, we conclude by recommending five strategies for high school educators, faculty and staff at colleges and universities, and policymakers to consider to increase upward transfer rates."

Tracking Transfer: New Measures of Institutional and State Effectiveness in Helping Community College Students Attain Bachelor’s Degrees

Davis Jenkins and John FInk, Community College Research Center 2016

Advanced Placement (AP) Policy: Impacts on Academic Outcomes at Four-Year Universities - An Update with New Data

By: Shoumi Mustafa and Paula Compton, Ohio Public Institutions of Higher Education, August 2016

​How does the AP policy influence academic outcomes of policy beneficiaries? This report is an update of a previous study with new data on additional cohorts of freshman students.

Demystifying Higher Education Transfer: Identifying common barriers facing transfer students in Oregon

By Ellie Austin, Amy Henson, and Craig Wiroll, Department of Planning, Public Policy, and Management, University of Oregon, June 2016

​Requested by the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, this report provides quantitative and qualitative data on the barriers affecting students in their transfer of credits from two- to four-year higher education institutions in Oregon. Through focus groups of students and administrators and online surveys, the research team identified four major barriers facing transfer students: (1) no or inadequate advising; (2) perceived lack of support services after transfer; (3) misunderstanding of financial aid; and (4) lack of coordinated, meaningful, and accurate information about transfer requirements. The report provides research findings, analysis and recommendations for improving the transfer process. A must-read for campus advisors and transfer specialists.

How Cuts to Public Universities Have Driven Students Out of State

By: Nick Strayer, The New York Times, August 26, 2016

​"Declines in state support for public universities have helped reshape the geography of public college admissions, leading many students to attend universities far from home, where they pay higher, out-of-state tuition. An analysis of migration patterns among college freshmen shows the states students leave each year and where they go."

Extending the Credential

Published By: Inside Higher Ed, April 14, 2015

​"College degrees have, for years, been defined by credits earned in courses - with certain combinations of credits necessary (in the major, general education and so forth) to earn a degree. Increasingly though, credentials are being viewed in new and different ways. Some experts say that existing models don't say enough about the capabilities graduates possess. Some favor enhancing the credential and others would like to eliminate it. Competency-based education is central to this debate, but so are such topics as badging, internships, experiential education, testing and more. The articles in this booklet examine some of these trends, with opinion pieces providing additional perspective."

National Student Clearinghouse Research Center Snapshot Report on Interstate Mobility

By: The National Student Clearinghouse, Spring 2015

​"Nationally 14.6 percent of all 2013-14 college graduates attended college in at least one other state or territory in the 10 years prior to receiving a credential. The comparable figure for 2010-11 graduates was 13.9 percent. As shown in the map, for each state and territory, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has calculated the percentage of undergraduate credential completers in the 2013-14 academic year who had prior enrollments in at least one other state or territory. The median per state/territory was 17.5 percent."

Educational Vision for Utah Student: Higher Education Initiatives and their Potential to Produce an Education of Quality and Value

By: Phyllis "Teddi" Safman, Working Draft, November, 2014

The Utah System of Higher Education is currently, and has been, engaged in one regional and four national initiatives: The Western Interstate Passport Initiative, Tuning USA, the Quality Collaborative, the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes and Assessment, and the Liberal Education for America’s Promise initiative. The purpose of this paper is to explain how the initiatives converge with one another on issues such as the culture of higher education, particularly teaching, learning, and assessment.

Credit Hour as a Proxy for Student Learning

By: Phyllis "Teddi" Safman, Working Draft, May 8, 2013

Neither the credit hour nor the assignment of a letter grade upon completion of a course can tell us much about what students have learned. The credit hour, a proxy for learning and still the coin of the higher education realm, cannot tell us exactly what students know and are able to demonstrate as a function of learning. Letter grades tell us nothing about integrated and complex learning, nor the rigor expected in a course or program; instead, letter grades provide only a comparison that represents some assumed level of mastery.

Promising Practices in Statewide Articulation and Transfer Systems

By: Hezel Associates and WICHE, June, 2010

A joint publication by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and Hezel Associates, Promising Practices in Statewide Articulation and Transfer Systems highlights state efforts in statewide articulation and transfer. The publication offers promising practices and policy recommendations, which are the result of a research study that includes a literature review, scan of publicly available information, surveys, and interviews with key education officials.

Improving Transfer Access to STEM Bachelor's Degrees at Hispanic Serving Institutions through the America COMPETES Act

By: Alicia C. Dowd, Lindsey E. Malcom, and Elsa E. Macias, March, 2010

"This report is intended to inform the capacity-building effort by highlighting the role of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) in producing Latino STEM baccalaureates." Although the report does not directly concern the Passport, it underscores the need to fix the transfer system.