Millersville University, Faculty Senate

State System of Higher Education
Academic Passport Effectiveness Analysis

Executive Summary
Fall 1998 Semester

In January 1998, the Board of Governors adopted a resolution creating an Academic Passport for transfer students to the State System of Higher Education. As part of that resolution the Board mandated that beginning with the 1998 fall semester, the effectiveness of the Passport and its application to community college transfer students be examined. This report summarizes that assessment.


During the fall 1998 semester, approximately 1,800 students transferred to State System universities from Pennsylvania community colleges. For the purposes of evaluating the Passport, every student who transferTed with an Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.) degree earned in 1997-98 was included in the study. There were 248 community college transfer degree holders or approximately 14% of the total transfers. Recognizing that the majority of students transfer without the two-year college degree, a random sample of students who transferred without the degree was also taken. Approximately 50 such students were selected at each university for a total of 524 students (not every university had 50 transfers). This random sample represented 29.3% of all transfers, with a margin of error of 4%. In total, 43.20k of the entering transfer cohort was examined in this study.

A reporting template was developed requiring universities to review and examine the transcript of each incoming transfer student included in the study and to provide an accurate and direct report of all credits presented for transfer, as well as the ultimate disposition of those credits. Transcript analysis and reporting occurred in October 1998.


Academic Passport Students

A total of 248 students with A.A. and A.S. degrees earned in 1997-98 transferred in fall 1998. Of these, 203 qualified for the Academic Passport. To qualify for the Passport, a student must have held an A.A. degree with at least 45 credits of liberal arts or an A.S. degree with 30 credits of liberal arts.

Passport students presented 13,712 credits for transfer to State System universities. Of that total, 89.9% were accepted and 10. 1% were rejected (table 1). Credits were not accepted because of low grades (D or F), remedial or developmental courses, course credit differentials (e.g., community college awarded four credits, System university awarded three), and courses not accepted by the department or major. Of the total number of credits accepted, 60% were applied to general education requirements, 19% satisfied requirements in the major, and 17.4% were applied to electives. Only 3.5% of transfer credits were accepted but not counted towards graduation.

Table 2 presents the same data for passport students by sending institution. Acceptance rates varied from 86% to 95%. A larger number of students with the passport transferred from Butler County Community College than any other Pennsylvania community college.

Non-Degree Transfer Students

The 524 students in the non-degree transfer sample presented a total of 21,449 credits for transfer. Of this total, 81.8% were accepted and 18.2% were rejected (table 3). Reasons cited for rejection of transfer credit were poor grades, developmental and remedial courses, course credit differentials, and courses not accepted by the department or major. Of those credits accepted, 62.5% were applied to general education requirements, 17% to the major, and 18% to electives. Only 2.6% of transfer credits were accepted but not counted towards graduation.

Table 4 presents the same data for non-degree transfers by sending institution. Four students were excluded from the sample because the sending institution could not be identified. Acceptance rates varied from 72% to 91 %. A larger number of students transferred from Allegheny County Community College than any other Pennsylvania community college.

Concluding Comments

For students holding the Academic Passport, it appears that completion of the degree assists in the transfer process, as 89.9% of credits presented by this group transferred compared to 81.8% of credits presented for transfer by non-degree students. Passport students also had substantially fewer credits rejected - 10. 1 % compared to 18.2% for non-degree transfers.

Overall, the vast majority of credits presented by Pennsylvania community college students were accepted by State System universities. Adoption of the Board of Governors policy on the Academic Passport for Student Transfer will further facilitate the goal of creating a seamless articulation system for Pennsylvania community college students who transfer to State System universities.

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