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Minority educators vow to scale up transfer network for all.

The Alliance for Equity in Higher Education has assumed leadership of the National Articulation and Transfer Network, with the goal of making college transfers effectively seamless for minority and majority students nationwide.

"NATN has built the vehicles for making articulation and transfer possible, and now we can really take the idea to scale," said Jamie Merisotis, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy in Washington, D.C. IHEP will administer NATN for the Alliance, which is a coalition of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and the National Association for

Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, which represents historically Black colleges and universities.

"NAFEO is excited about the new relationship between NATN and the Alliance members, NAFEO, AIHEC, and HACU," wrote NAFEO President Lezli Baskerville in an e-mail message. She explained that NAFEO has passed a resolution to work on students who complete two-year programs and who are transitioning into and through four-year HBCUs and predominantly Black institutions. "Some of the primary reasons students cite for attending a two-year institution--location, cost, flexibility of hours--are reasons many of those same students might opt to complete their higher education at an HBCU or PBI," Baskerville pointed out. As NATN scales up, it will help more students to succeed in four-year institutions.

Minority Barriers

Transfer and articulation barriers loom especially large for minority students because more of them start out at two-year institutions. For example, according to research by Richard Fry at the Pew Hispanic Center, 40 percent of traditional-age Latino college students are enrolled in two-year institutions.

IHEP's Jane Wellman studied community college-baccalaureate transfer and concluded that for students of color, "The biggest single reason for the difference in baccalaureate degree completion is that the majority of students of color who attend postsecondary education initially enroll in public community colleges and do not transfer to complete the baccalaureate degree. Even if the roots of this disparity lie in K-12, the largest barriers to progress are internal to postsecondary education."

In fall 2001, Dr. Philip Day, chancellor of City College of San Francisco, launched NATN, with the aim of simplifying the transfer process and increasing participation of minority-serving institutions. With the enthusiastic endorsement of the American Council on Education, the American Association of Community Colleges and the Council of Great City Schools, NATN quickly enrolled more than 200 urban high schools, four-year institutions and leading two-year institutions.

Long-Term Gain

The reform of transfer and articulation policies and procedures takes effort because it often encounters internal resistance, but once the structural changes are in place, students and institutions benefit long term without any special programs or extra funding. That's why IHEP's Merisotis called NATN's process "a tremendous benefit to save time and resources" for institutions. He said that NATN has created and road-tested standard agreements for transfer and articulation at the course, program and institutional levels. The way it works is that if 50 institutions sign on to the level one agreement, then each is getting an agreement with 49 institutions, he said.

Merisotis added that well-designed transfer policies are an important student recruitment tool, because they enable students to achieve educational goals. Transfer and articulation agreements can also help institutions gain recognition for their students who go on to graduate from another institution.

Merisotis pointed out that many colleges are still considering each transfer decision one student and one course at a time--"a time-consuming and costly" process--even though attendance at more than one institution is now typical. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics show that 59 percent of all two- and four-year college students, both majority and minority, attend more than one institution on the way to the baccalaureate degree. These students take longer to finish college than the 40 percent who stay at one school, and NCES has blamed transfer and articulation barriers for part of the lost time.

NATN will devote the next several months to consultative meetings and outreach, including a Summer Academy in Puerto Rico in July. The network is not limited to minority-serving institutions. It is open to all accredited public and nonprofit institutions of higher education.

By Alison P. Martinez
COPYRIGHT 2006 Autumn Publishing
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Title Annotation:around the nation
Author:Martinez, Alison P.
Publication:Community College Week
Date:Mar 13, 2006
Words:693
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