CPE gets national grant to improve student transfer process

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Release Date: Dec. 14, 2022

Contact: Sue Patrick

Phone: 502-892-3051


CPE gets national grant to improve student transfer process

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) --The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education will get some extra help to improve the student transfer process, thanks to a national education group that is recognizing best practices for student success.

The National Association of System Heads (NASH) announced last week that CPE was in the first round of awardees for its newly established Catalyst Fund. According to NASH, the awards are aimed at recognizing hotspots of best practices that demonstrate interventions that are already underway and proving to be successful with the potential to have a catalytic impact in meeting NASH’s goals.

“Kentucky is committed to identifying and addressing process barriers that hinder in-state student transfer,” said Dr. Melissa Bell, vice president for academic affairs and student success. “Many under-resourced and historically underserved students begin their educational journeys at community and technical colleges, with the intention of obtaining a bachelor’s degree. We want to do all we can to smooth the transition from a community and technical college to a university so that students can earn a bachelor’s degree as efficiently as possible.”

CPE’s proposal builds on work with Western Kentucky University (WKU) and Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKYCTC) that grew out of an earlier NASH project. This effort helped campuses identify unnecessary obstacles to transfer and implement a rapid improvement process, which identified relatively low-cost strategies to simplify the transfer process in just a few months.

One strategy implemented by WKU and SKYCTC was to use professional advising staff as onboarding specialists to connect with transfer students sooner and get them registered for classes during faculty non-contract time. The professional advisors were able to reach out more quickly and more transfer students were able to successfully enroll and register at the university. Other focus areas included connecting third and fourth semester Associate of Science transfer students with WKU advisors and convening advisors from both campuses for information sharing on WKU’s program and class requirements, and to have questions answered.

CPE plans to use the new grant to implement the rapid improvement process with an additional set of partners, which would include one regional university and at least one feeder community college. The team will identify transfer process barriers, address those barriers in a short timeframe, and then start conversations about instituting fundamental change.

Bell said transfer has always been a major element of the work of CPE. It’s one of the objectives in the statewide postsecondary education strategic agenda, as well as a primary statutory duty. For the past decade, through legislation and policy, CPE has simplified the transfer process in important ways:

• Created a statewide general education core of 30 credit hours that is accepted for transfer at any public institution. Kentucky departs from the typical course-to-course comparisons as a basis for transfer and instead focuses on the acquisition of identified learning outcomes, thus increasing flexibility in course transfer.
• Developed guidelines for awarding credit earned outside of a college classroom. State law requires college credit for students who score 3 or higher on AP exams and have worked with institutions to identify course equivalencies for CLEP, International Baccalaureate, Cambridge International, and DSST exams as well.
• Produced guiding principles for awarding military credit and encouraging the transferability of credit earned through military experience from one institution to another.
• Created checks and balances in the system. State policy requires institutions to notify CPE of any changes in programs or learning outcomes that could potentially affect transferability.

Additionally, community and technical colleges work with universities on degree pathways that outline the appropriate courses at the community college level that will transfer toward credits needed to fulfill requirements for a bachelor's degree at a state university.

“As an incubator of best practices, NASH is proud to have launched our innovative Catalyst Fund,” said Dr. Nancy Zimpher, director of the Power of Systems at NASH. “Its impact will be far reaching but the concept is simple: through pooled philanthropic support, NASH is recognizing and incentivizing the development of systems’ big ideas that, once proven to work, have the potential to be scaled not only within systems but at peer systems across the country.”