Interstate Passport Initiative

The Interstate Passport Initiative: Focusing on Learning Outcomes
to Streamline Transfer Pathways to Graduation

The Interstate Passport Initiative: Focusing on Learning Outcomes to Streamline Transfer Pathways to Graduation, launched in October 2011, is the first in a proposed series of regional projects in the West that will focus on the college transfer process. Working with institutions in five Western states—California, Hawaii, North Dakota, Oregon, and Utah—the initial project will attack the transfer problem at an interstate level toward the goal of improving graduation rates, shortening time to degree, and saving students money.

This first phase of the project includes three components: research, pilot project, and collection of impacts. The project is guided by a panel of experts and an evaluator.

The Interstate Passport Initiative will focus on forging general education core transfer agreements, based on Essential Learning Outcomes, between 28 institutions in the five partner states. Essential Learning Outcomes—a quartet of targets that a college curriculum should aim to foster in students in order to prepare them for work, life, and strong citizenship—were developed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Liberal Education and America’s Promise, known as LEAP, and are already being adopted at a variety of institutions and some higher education systems.

On a regional level, the initiative will introduce block transfer agreements for the general education core based on this outcomes work—a new transfer framework that could streamline pathways to graduation. The project will focus on the lower-division general education core, the common denominator among institutions—concentrating on it as a whole, not on individual courses—and will allow for a cross-border “match” of outcomes-integrated general education cores.

Participating institutions are expected to sign the Passport Agreement in summer 2013, after which new institutions will apply for Passport Status.

The Interstate Passport Initiative will allow the Western states to work together to better serve the needs of their students and may provide a model for other regions, and ultimately the nation, to adopt. This two-year pilot project is funded by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The project will build upon the recent work of the WICHE Policy Unit in this arena.