The art of data-driven articulation agreements

June 10, 2019
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The largest community college in Maryland has totally revamped their process for creating articulation agreements, delivering remarkable benefits to their students.

Beginning in 2017, Montgomery College (MC) built new transfer pathways using their TRANSFERmation vision. TRANSFERmation grew out of the need to take a data-driven approach to articulation agreements. It better serves students by creating partnerships with colleges and universities that provide MC students with specific benefits, ranging from application fee waivers to transfer scholarships.

“With TRANSFERmation, we figured out a mission and vision for our transfer office,” said Dean Schleicher, Articulation & Transfer Specialist. “Before, we didn’t really have a good way of deciding whether to create an agreement with a four-year school. We might get a request from a random school in any state, we previously would have just moved forward -- even if we’d never seen a student go there, and they weren’t offering any real benefit to the student.

“Now we make a data-driven decision about whether the agreement has tangible benefit to our students,” he added.

Which partnerships are worthy?

To establish TRANSFERmation, the transfer office spoke with every relevant division at MC -- vice presidents and provosts, deans, faculty, and students -- to see what they wanted to get out of articulation agreements. An overarching theme emerged: benefits for students.

They then created two rubrics to determine whether to pursue a partnership. One is an institutional rubric that includes factors such as cost, diversity, graduation rate, loan debt, population served, and transfer student numbers and scholarship opportunities. The second is a degree rubric around the pathway requested, asking questions like: Is there enrollment in that program at MC? Does the school have specialized accreditation? Is it an upcoming career field?

“Once we plug all those numbers in, the rubric generates a pass/fail -- but it does not make the decision, and neither does the transfer office,” Schleicher said. “We use the rubric score as a recommendation to take to the dean and ask ‘would you like to pursue a partnership with this institution?’ and the dean takes it to the faculty and chair, who ultimately make the decision.”

Using this process, the goal is to develop either enrollment agreements or institutional articulated pathways that ensure the seamless transfer and academic success of MC students.

Moreover, MC’s impressive new transfer website displays all of these articulation agreements in a user-friendly way, so that students and counselors can find these pathways and take advantage of the benefits therein.

“We’re getting students to talk about transfer more and raising their awareness of earning degrees using one of the agreements we create,” Schleicher said.

TRANSFERmation nation

“I think community colleges and four-year schools everywhere can take a look at their own articulation agreement processes and figure out if there are ways to improve,” Schleicher said. 

He invites professionals to learn more about MC’s experience and how they formalized their articulation agreement process in his session “TRANSFERmation” at the 2019 AACRAO Technology and Transfer Conference.   Join Schleicher and other transfer professionals at the conference, July 14-16 in Las Vegas, to collaborate on supporting transfer student success across the nation.