Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Minnesota Elementary Education Transfer Pathways: Promoting opportunities for success.

                  Under the Transfer Pathways to Baccalaureate Completion development plan Minnesota  two-year college and university faculty were given a charge to create transfer pathways. The process required effective communication and collaboration among faculty in the same discipline at different institutions to ensure that the transfer pathways aligned lower-division and upper-division curricula to enhance students’ ability to complete baccalaureate degrees. Developed pathways would offer prospective students the opportunity to streamline preparation for the bachelor’s degree by transferring a completed associate degree at a two-year college.
Transfer Pathways Teams Charge
A Transfer Pathway Team (TPT) is a discipline-specific group, working to create statewide transfer pathways to baccalaureate degrees. TPT members are charged with developing a statewide transfer pathway to baccalaureate degree that allows a student to transfer the full Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, or the Associate of Fine Arts degree in the TPTs respective field of study into a parallel baccalaureate degree program offered at a MnSCU university.
TPT members will work together to identify the discipline competencies required for entry into the field of study at the junior level. The resulting transfer pathway will also include the 24-40 credits of Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) courses as defined by the degree type. (MnSCU Board Procedure 3.36.1 , specifically Part 3, Subpart B, 3, 4, 5, and 7).
The goal of the statewide transfer pathways to baccalaureate degrees is not to create a common associate degree program or a bachelor degree program in the field of study. Rather, institutions will use the pathway to baccalaureate degree to ensure minimum competency requirements are met at the associate degree level and that students are academically prepared to transfer into the parallel baccalaureate degree program as juniors (MNSCU, 2016).
The TPTs will create the transfer pathways. It is recommended they will begin their work with a review of all of the current degree requirements (university and college) and articulation agreements in the related fields of study.
The TPTs will:
·         be self-governed to meet the designated deadlines agreed upon by the TPCT
·         have full autonomy to consider the full range of strategies/ideas to achieve the goals
·         review previous pathways for possible overlap or to become part of another pathway
·         identify the competencies required for entry into the field of study at the junior-level
·         identify possible courses where the competencies may be completed
·         seek program advisory committee input, where appropriate
·         seek input from other related disciplines that may be affected by their work
·         submit regular interim progress reports to develop a written statewide transfer pathway to baccalaureate degree that includes 24-40 credits of MnTC courses and allows students to transfer the full Associate of Arts-Pathway, Associate of Science-Pathway, or Associate of Fine Arts Pathway degree in the TPT’s respective field of study into a parallel baccalaureate program offered at any MnSCU university
·         list all university degrees into which the pathway will transfer
·         ensure the parallel bachelor’s degree can be completed in an additional 60 credits
·         develop a model degree map
·         submit the final transfer pathway to the TPCT for approval
Once the transfer pathways are approved, the faculty at the colleges and universities will determine how their current curriculum will fit into the new transfer pathways. If needed, campus curriculum review and approval processes will be followed to implement the new transfer pathways (MNSCU, 2016).
Each TPT member is expected to:
·         Participate in TPT discussions and work with fellow TPT members to develop the final transfer pathway to baccalaureate degree.
·         Meet all deadlines established by the TPT and the TPCT.
·         Vote on the transfer pathway before it is submitted to the TPCT for review.
·         Communicate with the TPCT liaison member frequently.
·         Assist with all other tasks as agreed upon by the TPT to make progress.
·         Work with all members to build consensus in team decisions and recommendations.
·         Identify and pursue opportunities for collaborating in program offerings (MNSCU, 2016).

The Minnesota Elementary Education Transfer Pathway exhibits a fundamental difference between majors that result in professional licensure/certification, etc… and those that do not.  Embracing this difference will help guide efforts.  The result will be the production of an Elementary Education Transfer Pathway that promotes sustained success for prospective teachers within 120 credits and eight traditional semesters. 
The Minnesota Elementary Education Transfer Pathway (EETP) was charged with identifying a pathway whereby graduates earn a four-year degree and achieve licensure.  Unlike other major Pathways, development of a Minnesota Elementary Education Transfer Pathway potentially leads to professional licensure upon successful criteria explicated by the university’s Teacher Education Program (TEP) and satisfaction of Board of Teaching regulations.  Therefore, the template for any Pathway resulting in professional licensure must be clear, concise, and correct. 
For instance, the EETP Workgroup spent considerable time on a single passage: “Because completion for an Elementary Bachelor degree, satisfaction of all Standards of Effective Practice (SEP: 7810.2000) and Content Standards (8710.3200), clinical/field work requirements, and passing scores on the MTLE assessments have historically met the licensure requirements for the Minnesota Department of Education, we must ensure all generals and requisite courses for acceptance into a four-year Teacher Education Program are met within the Transfer Pathway’s associate degree …”
The impact of “must ensure” compared to “encourage” is the difference between a Pathway that embraces defined autonomy (Marzano & Waters, 2009) based on high expectations compared to a Pathway that could inadvertently promote lower expectations.  Through the process it became more understood and consensus was reached that a student unable to satisfy the TEP’s admission requirements could graduate with the AS-P degree but he or she will then only be eligible to enter the 4-year institution as a non-licensure candidate in a parallel program.  Remediation was still an option, which also parallels typical processes for the 4-year program. 
One aspect of effective implementation.  As educators have learned from the past, great mandates are easily derailed by poor implementation.  Effective implementation requires systemic enculturation of  policies, practices, and processes into programs. Systemic enculturation takes time.  For instance, rather than pages of admission requirements for each institution, appendices were developed.   These appendices included links, which made comprehension of options more user-friendly and access to information efficient.  However, what would happen to the efficiency and effectiveness if consistent monitoring and safe-guarding of the links were not systemically enculturated?.
 Based on what was developed for the EETP, future Pathway developers are encouraged to clearly and correctly introduce the Pathway by noting, “Completion of the AS-P provides admission to the 4-year institution at a junior level but the individual institution’s Teacher Education Program (TEP) criteria must be met for acceptance into the Elementary Education licensure program.”  This provides the needed caveat to mitigate ambiguity, maintain high expectations, ensure accountability is with the sending rather than receiving institution alone. The safeguards the student seeking transfer and the accepting university’s TEP.
Ambiguity will create assumptions, which can lead to confusion at best and anarchy at worst. For any (Elementary) Education licensure program’s Transfer Pathway, it is crucial to slow the green light of Transfer Pathway acceptance afforded non-licensure majors into a 4-yr university by including an amber light that signals potential tracks for continuing toward professional licensure. This parallels existing programs.  Making the metaphor real means including the minimal requirements for achieving the designation of "Conditional Acceptance" into the university's Teacher Education Program (TEP). A clear designation of TEP admission status allows the TEP to subsequently ensure all criteria expected within the parallel program has been satisfied by the entering AS-P graduate. Thus, local autonomy is secured, all students are treated fairly, and the TEP's Board of Teaching accreditation data is less likely to be questioned. 

To cite:
Anderson, C.J. (November 30, 2016) The Minnesota Elementary Education Transfer Pathways: Promoting opportunities for success.  [Web log post] Retrieved from

Marzano, R. & Waters, T. (2009).  District Leadership That Works. Bloomington, In: Solution
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