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Executive Summary
 
Acknowledgments
 
Introduction
 
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
 
    Arkansas
 
    Florida
 
    New Mexico
 
    New York
 
    North Carolina
 
    Texas
 
Lessons Learned about State Transfer Policy
 
Conclusions and Recommendations
 
References
 
State Resources
 
About the Author
 
The Institute for Higher Education Policy
 
The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education
 

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Page 7 of 21

RESEARCH ON STATE POLICY AND TRANSFER


There has been relatively little research on the relationship between state policy and the effectiveness of the 2/4 transfer function. Three relevant studies are briefly described below.

The Road to Equality

Hungar and Lieberman (2001) were particularly interested in the effectiveness of state baccalaureate transfer policy as a tool for educational equity. They looked at state policy structures affecting transfer in seven states: California, Florida, Michigan, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. They found some common patterns, but little evidence that policies were linked to the obstacles that students face in persisting through the baccalaureate degree. They argued that student aid should be used to help remove obstacles that hinder students from completing their degrees.

ECS Survey of State Policy Structures

The Education Commission of the States (ECS) surveyed all 50 states in order to identify the different ways that states define policies for 2/4 transfer (Education Commission of the States, 2001). The ECS report lists seven categories of policies:

  1. Legislation: state law articulates the 2/4 transfer mission (30 states).
  2. Cooperative agreements: statewide frameworks or networks support voluntary cooperation between institutions (40 states).
  3. Transfer data reporting: the state collects some type of data on 2/4 transfer patterns (33 states).
  4. Students are given incentives and rewards for transfer, such as financial aid or guaranteed admission (18 states).
  5. Statewide articulation guides describe the requirements for course and institutional articulation between two-year and four-year institutions (26 states).
  6. Statewide common core curricula (23 states).
  7. Common course numbering systems (8 states).
Citing large policy gaps in many states, the report called for states to attend to the design of comprehensive statewide policies to support transfer.

State Structures and Degree Production

Gary Orfield and Faith Paul (1992), in a study commissioned by The Ford Foundation, examined the relation between state structures for higher education and college completion. Drawing from national data and data from five states (California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin), Orfield and Paul examined the relationship between the rate of baccalaureate attainment and a state’s reliance on community colleges as a primary point of access to the baccalaureate. They found that those states that rely the least on community colleges had higher rates of bachelor’s degree attainment; states that rely the most on community colleges had lower rates of degree attainment. This pattern held for all students, and it was particularly pronounced for minority students in urban community colleges. To increase bachelor’s degree attainment, Orfield and Paul concluded, it would be necessary to increase the proportion of students who begin at four-year colleges or universities.

This study has been quite controversial, because it challenges ideas about the effectiveness of the dual mission of the community colleges and the structural capacity of these colleges to invest the resources to provide not just access but equity in achievement. Orfield and Paul’s method for calculating transfer rates produced low rates, because their measure juxtaposed total two-year college enrollments with baccalaureate degree recipients. Despite the study’s vulnerability to methodological critique, the basic findings about minority student retention and graduation from community colleges match both McCormick’s and Adelman’s findings.

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