To examine the impact of state policy structure on 2/4 transfer, I selected six states that
rely heavily on transfer as a point of access to the baccalaureate degree for low-income
students. The criteria for selection included the states’ grades on completion in
Measuring Up 2000 (National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, 2000),
combined with the proportion of total postsecondary enrollments in community colleges
and the percentage of school-age children in poverty.* Three of these states—Florida,
New York, and North Carolina—were among the better-performing states on the
completion measure used in Measuring Up 2000; three others—Arkansas, New Mexico,
and Texas—were among the poorest-performing states (see table 3). Arizona and
California were not selected, despite sizable community college sectors, because they
both obtained midrange completion scores in Measuring Up.
As one measure of 2/4 transfer effectiveness, this six-state survey compared Integrated
Postsecondary Education System (IPEDS) data for first-time freshmen enrollments in
degree-producing institutions in fall 1991 with baccalaureate degree recipients in 1996–
97 (see table 4). While these cohorts are not identical, the comparisons show how the
states differ in the relative diversity of enrollments and in degree attainment by racial and
ethnic groups, with much higher populations of Hispanic students in Florida, New
Mexico, New York, and Texas than in Arkansas and North Carolina. More importantly,
there are disturbing and consistent patterns indicating that white students persist to the
baccalaureate degree at higher rates than either African-American or Hispanic students.
* Grades on the completion measure reflect the two persistence measures and two completion measures shown in table 3. These measures are not considered proxies for transfer effectiveness, but they do capture some aspects of transfer performance, since all entering community college students are included in the base of one persistence measure, and all degree completers who started in a community college are captured in the completion measures. The other factors-the proportion of students in public community colleges and the percentage of school-age children in poverty-narrow the focus to states that use public community colleges as a point of low-cost access to postsecondary education.