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Executive Summary
The Importance of 2/4 Transfer
The Different Dimensions of Transfer
The Accountability Problem and Transfer “Rates”
Research on State Policy and Transfer
Six-State Focus
    New Mexico
    New York
    North Carolina
Lessons Learned about State Transfer Policy
Conclusions and Recommendations
State Resources
About the Author
The Institute for Higher Education Policy
The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education

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This paper examines the relationship of state postsecondary policy and the effectiveness of the community college–baccalaureate transfer function. The structures of state policy that affect two-year to four-year (2/4) transfer performance include: mission statements; statewide plans; the design of governance structures, legislation, and regulation; funding, tuition, and financial aid; and data collection and accountability.

Community or two-year colleges have many functions in addition to transfer preparation, such as adult, vocational, continuing, community, and remedial education. It is not always easy to distinguish between these programs at the college level, as some vocational courses are offered for credit toward academic degrees, and many students move back and forth between the types of programs. My focus on state policy for 2/4 transfer is not intended to devalue other dimensions of community college performance. Nor is it intended to suggest that state policy is more important than institutional or program influences on 2/4 transfer effectiveness. Indeed, earlier studies of campus and program effects on transfer show that the latter are almost as important in predicting transfer performance as individual student factors. Much less is known about the relationship of state policy to transfer performance, however. Thus I begin with a discussion of 2/4 transfer and its growing importance to statewide performance in higher education. I then present a synthesis of the research on transfer, transfer rates, influences on transfer performance, and state policy designs for transfer. My survey of current approaches examines the policies of six states (Arkansas, Florida, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, and Texas). In the final section, I discuss my findings, present an analytical framework for characterizing the dimensions of state policy on 2/4 transfer, and offer state policy recommendations to improve performance and accountability for transfer.


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© 2002 The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education
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