The Scope and Reach of WICHE’s Interstate Passport Expands
By Cathy Walker, Passport Project Manager, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)
The Interstate Passport — a newly designed framework of learning outcomes and proficiency criteria — represents a significant reform of procedures affecting postsecondary students who transfer from one institution to another across state lines. It is aimed at improving graduation rates, shortening time to degree, and saving students’ money. In recent months, the initiative has made steady progress on several fronts:
Completion of Passport Framework
Passport Learning Outcomes and transfer-level proficiency criteria have now been established for all nine knowledge and skill areas. Faculty teams at 17 Passport institutions are currently constructing their Passport Blocks — the list of courses and other learning experiences that impart the Passport Learning Outcomes — and several institutions are expected to begin awarding the full Passport in fall 2016.
Recognition by the U.S. Department of Education
Out of 42 First in the World (FITW) projects awarded funding thus far in two rounds of competition, the U.S. Department of Education staff selected 12 projects — including the Passport initiative — to showcase during a recent FITW project directors meeting in Washington, D.C. Passport Principal Investigator Patricia Shea gave a presentation on the Passport at the White House to Education Department officials and other guests.
Academic advisors and campus marketing/communications representatives from the Passport states of Hawaii, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming convened in Boulder in May for a two-day workshop. The National Student Clearinghouse’s Executive Research Director Doug Shapiro kicked-off the workshop with a presentation on the “Evolution of Student Transfer” drawing on the latest trends identified by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Participants created and shared ideas, materials, and templates for use with multiple audiences back home — faculty, administrators, incoming and outgoing transfer students, and parents.
The Clearinghouse is also establishing the infrastructure for the APT service, which will collect disaggregated data from Passport institutions at the end of each term and provide reports annually to the sending institutions on the performance of their students after transfer.
Orientation Workshop for Faculty Leaders
A recent workshop in Boulder brought together more than 80 faculty members and administrators from two- and four-year institutions in states that have been engaged in Passport work for several years, and states that are more recent participants. Representatives from the six “new” states — Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Virginia — received a crash course in mapping the Passport Learning Outcomes to institution and state learning outcomes and how to construct Passport Blocks. Representatives from the veteran states shared their experiences in implementing the Passport and navigating obstacles.
Verification and Tracking
Work is progressing at the National Student Clearinghouse to develop the PassportVerify and Academic Progress Tracking (APT) services for Passport institutions. Through PassportVerify, institutions will be able to query the Clearinghouse to verify if incoming transfer students have earned a Passport. The second round of data collection for the pilot phase is underway. The Clearinghouse is also establishing the infrastructure for the APT service, which will collect disaggregated data from Passport institutions at the end of each term and provide reports annually to the sending institutions on the performance of their students after transfer. This quality-assurance component of the project is focused on keeping the Passport Review Board informed on how Passport student performance compares to non-Passport transfers and to native students.
To learn more and attend one of the WICHE webinars in July 27, August 24, and September 29, visit the Interstate Passport website.