WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the release of a new report from the American Council on Education (ACE) entitled “Reimagining Transfer for Student Success: The National Task Force on the Transfer and Award of Credit,” which offers recommendations for institutions of higher education to assist students in efficiently transferring academic credits earned at other institutions, the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC) has issued the following statement of support:
The Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC) applauds and endorses the work of the ACE Task Force report. C-RAC also encourages our accredited institutions to examine their transfer policies and find ways to make it easier for students who move in and out and through multiple colleges and universities to earn their degrees. The mobility of today’s students, coupled with the continuing challenges with the pandemic, has made it necessary for students to change their academic paths, and institutions must be nimble in order to remove barriers to students’ success.
The ACE report was developed by a Task Force on Transfer of Credit that was established to explore opportunities to modify existing transfer and award of credit practices to best support student success. In the report, the Task Force offers six recommendations designed to “enable higher education leaders to carry out more seamless and efficient transfer and award of credit on their campuses.”
The recommendations in the ACE report include:
1. Prioritize the award of transfer credit and credit for prior learning, and its application to degree requirements, as an essential component of student success. Embed this priority throughout the culture of your institution.
2. Adjust your institution’s end-to-end policies and practices to improve the ability of students to receive credit for learning already acquired, including removing unnecessary obstacles that prevent students from accessing their transcripts to continue their education at another institution.
3. Leverage innovative technologies to facilitate the review of credit, to provide greater consistency across credit award determinations, and to increase the efficiency and timeliness of the process.
4. Improve transparency by making clear upfront what credits will be awarded and how they will be applied to a student’s degree pathway.
5. Dedicate the resources necessary to ensure quality advising that provides students with early, knowledgeable, and personalized information and guidance at key points throughout the course of their learning pathway. Implement a cross-institutional advising approach with key transfer partners to the maximum extent possible.
6. Partner with your most frequent sending or receiving transfer institutions to implement articulation agreements and structured pathways to increase the transfer and award of credit toward degree requirements.
Common sense transfer of credit policies are important to promoting improved student outcomes and completion. While institutions have autonomy over individual credit transfer decisions, each C-RAC member has adopted policies to encourage transfer of credit.
Here are excerpts of the credit transfer policies from each regional accrediting commission:
Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges: Institutions shall establish policies on the transfer of credit that are clearly stated and that function in a manner that is fair and equitable to students. At the same time, institutions shall be responsible for careful evaluation of credits that students wish to transfer… Institutions should be flexible and open in considering alternative or innovative forms of educational delivery that may characterize the institution where the student received the credits proposed for transfer
Higher Learning Commission: Each institution shall determine its own policies and procedures for accepting transfer credits, including credits from accredited and non-accredited institutions, from foreign institutions, and from institutions which grant credit for experiential learning and for non-traditional adult learner programs* in conformity with any expectations in the Commission’s Assumed Practices.
Middle States Commission on Higher Education: An accredited institution possesses and demonstrates policies and procedures regarding evaluation and acceptance of transfer credits, and credits awarded through experiential learning, prior non-academic learning, competency-based assessment, and other alternative learning approaches (Standard IV). Although the extent to which transfer, articulation, and experiential learning issues apply to each institution will vary, the Commission’s policy on Transfer Credit, Prior Learning, and Articulation provides requirements and general principles that characterize effective policies for transfer and experiential learning and their implementation.
New England Commission of Higher Education: In accepting undergraduate transfer credit from other institutions, the institution applies policies and procedures that ensure the credit accepted reflects appropriate levels of academic quality and is applicable to the student’s program. The institution’s policies for considering the transfer of credit are publicly available to students and prospective students on its website and in other communications… the institution exercises the responsibility to ensure that students have met its stated learning outcomes of programs at all degree levels. The institution does not erect barriers to the acceptance of transfer credit that are unnecessary to protect its academic quality and integrity. The acceptance of transfer credit does not substantially diminish the proportion of intermediate and advanced coursework in a student’s academic program.
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities: Underlying this Policy is the principle that each institution is responsible for determining its own policies and practices with regard to the transfer and award of credit for courses taken at another institution. It is the receiving institution’s responsibility to provide reasonable and definitive policies and procedures for determining a student’s knowledge in required subject areas.
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges: The institution [must publish] policies for evaluating, awarding, and accepting credit not originating from the institution. The institution ensures (a) the academic quality of any credit or coursework recorded on its transcript, (b) an approval process with oversight by persons academically qualified to make the necessary judgments, and (c) the credit awarded is comparable to a designated credit experience and is consistent with the institution’s mission… The accreditation standards of SACSCOC require member institutions to analyze credit accepted for transfer in terms of level, content, quality, comparability, and degree program relevance. The accreditation standards do not mandate that institutions accept transfer credit only from regionally accredited institutions.
WASC Senior College and University Commission: The Commission recognizes that each institution is responsible for determining its own policies and practices with regard to the transfer and award of credit. Institutions are encouraged to review their policies and practices periodically to ensure that they accomplish the institution’s objectives and that they function in a manner that is fair and equitable to students… Institutions are encouraged to be flexible and open in considering alternative approaches to managing transfer when these approaches will benefit students…. Decisions regarding the acceptance of transfer credit should not be made solely on the accreditation status of an institution. This is just one of multiple factors to be considered in evaluating transfer credit.
To learn more about C-RAC, visit www.c-rac.org.
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