After spending the time in between legislative sessions studying the issue of K-12 and postsecondary linkages, Educate Texas produced a series of recommendations around the portability of credits and credentials.
Texas taxpayers, students, and families spend nearly $120 million on excess credits each year. The lack of alignment between Texas institutions of higher education result in increased time-to-degree and lower completion rates. Educate Texas made recommendations to address this issue by encouraging students to select an educational pathway early and by incentivizing colleges and universities to work more collaboratively to improve credit mobility. Educate Texas recommended that the legislative body:
(1) Require community college students to select a pathway (major or meta major) by 15 hours.
(2) Should the legislature create performance funding for universities, the metrics should include a focus on supporting transfer and at-risk students.
(3) Increase community college student success points for students completing 15/30/60 hours on a designated pathway (ie. Major, meta-major, workforce program).
(4) Add a 10% bonus on the weight for upper division, undergraduate courses on only the undergraduate portion of the university instruction and operation formula (graduate and professional funding should not be impacted).
(5) Incorporate ‘productive transfer college knowledge’ into existing activities and courses aimed at building ‘college knowledge’ to inform students of the importance of getting on a pathway early, particularly if they intend to transfer, and the consequences of delaying this decision. Incorporate these efforts into high school counseling, college prep courses, community college orientations, student success courses, and other activities.
Educate Texas had some success on this initiative. HB 655, which requires community college students to file a degree plan within two semesters of completing 30 hours, was passed and signed into law. However, the other bills they supported (HB 1198, HB 1540, SB 543, HB 3768, SB 2086, SB 2122, SB 2131) did not pass. This session was a negative one for Texas, as it was dominated by partisan fighting and social battles at the legislature. Educate Texas found some support on content, but the good work could not prevail in the toxic legislative environment. Moving forward, Educate Texas will now engage in implementation efforts to build out the guided pathways model in partnership with the University of Texas.
Key Lessons Learned
Although structure is always important in Texas, the research showed that, no matter what structure you put forward, undecided students are not being assisted properly in their college track. The system treats what you need to know for starting a four year degree and a community college as the same. Educate Texas found it critical that students in community colleges get information about transferring from the onset.
For portability of credits, Educate Texas really needs to think within the formula to make change because that’s what the universities think about and care about.
Bill / Policy ReferenceHB 1198 - Requires community college students to file a degree plan within two semesters of completing 15 hour
HB1540 - Adds transfer college knowledge (importance of choosing a pathway early, particularly if a student intends to transfer) to the postsecondary education counseling that students receive in high school
SB 543 - Performance based tuition that includes metrics for progress toward and time to degree and degrees awarded to at-risk students
HB 3768 - Texas Guided Pathways Program: Creates recommended course sequences and related advising
SB 2086 - Regional transfer compacts
SB 2122 - Fields of study and earlier advising
SB 2131 - Dual credit and transfer advising in high school
ContactPriscilla Aquino Garza, Deputy Director
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