Letter to the Florida Legislature on Higher Education Articulation Policy Changes

Letter to the Florida Legislature on Higher Education Articulation Policy Changes

I am writing as a constituent and former employee of two of the most rewarding positions on the planet: an administrator for one of our state universities and a teacher for one of our public high schools. I have seen firsthand how confusing it is to navigate the transition to, and world of, higher education. I have spent the last decade of my life working to create efficiencies in, and educate those pursuing, higher education, while working directly with the articulation policies involved in that pursuit.

I am not unaware of the challenges involved in my request, but it is my sincere hope that many of those to whom I’ve addressed this e-mail will consider the cost of ignoring it and begin a dialogue about an issue affecting thousands of students throughout Florida. I speak with hundreds of students every year who recognize the importance in today’s economy and market of obtaining a Bachelor’s degree. Some have taken a few classes or have considered registering for classes, but they are entirely unsure of the best pathway to reach their goal(s). Many choose or aspire to work in criminology, computer sciences, technology fields, health sciences, including nursing, and other fields like human and social services. Starting at a public university is cost prohibitive. They almost always view state college (Florida College System) as a necessary first step to finishing their Bachelor’s degree at a public or private university. But I have also been at the other end of a problem encountered by thousands of students after they completed their programs—and I’ve attended enough conferences in the field to know the problem isn’t unique to the state university at which I worked.

Many students are entering state college programs with and without information from advisors and counselors (at times unfamiliar with the consequences of their advice) and completing courses that do not articulate and, more importantly, AS degrees that do not articulate at state universities with credit guarantees. The articulation guidelines are designed to treat AAs differently than AS degrees.[1] In many fields and disciplines, students must take a number of additional courses and/or forego at least one to two semesters before working on their Bachelor’s at the state university. This is demoralizing for students and costs them thousands of dollars and years of financial debt, not to mention it may often take an additional year to complete their degree, preventing them from obtaining better employment for which they’re attempting to complete the degree.

Despite important academic research on retention and graduation rates, some of the most significant stories are anecdotal. Students took on debt to complete their AS degree with 60 credits only to find out at the time of transfer that the state universities aren’t guaranteeing their transfer or accepting many of their credits because articulation policies do not cover that degree. The student would have entered another program, but they didn’t know and an advisor didn’t inform them that despite pursuing their Bachelor’s in the same discipline their credits do not count. Many of those students depend on the false “guarantee” that any Associate’s ensures the transferability. Many students depend on the differing requirements for those entering with 60 college credits to avoid SAT/ACT scores and High School transcripts along with their graduation requirements and university admission policies related to the guidelines for transfer with under 60 credits. However, the Florida Statewide Articulation Agreements does not provide the same guarantees to students entering programs for which they fully intend to complete their Bachelor’s after state college. In some case, state colleges are incentivized to lead certain students into AS programs, despite the primary goal of these AS degrees moving students directly into technical and career fields.

Request:

(1) Study the cost of including AS degrees in common transfer fields to Bachelor’s degrees according to the same articulation agreement and policies related to AA degrees from state colleges.*

(2) Legislatively address FLA STAT. 1007.23 to include AS degree language where statutorily applicable to AA degree statutes.

(3) Legislatively address the FL BOG policy 6A–10.024(4) and 6A–10.024(5) to guarantee AS degrees in common fields, such as computer science fields, criminal justice, and other similar disciplines the same rights pertaining to AA degrees in order to ensure students graduate on pace with the transfer of AA students and are not economically burdened by more financial costs and debt.[2]

If any clarification of my request or the everyday impact of the AS articulation issue are needed, please do not hesitate to contact me or state university registrars and directors or admissions. I have copied what I believe amounts to some of the most influential people involved in higher education in Florida and it would bring me much joy to know that some of the brightest minds have considered the (unintended) affects of an otherwise incredible 2+2 program.

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Ryan Ross
rjrfau@gmail.com

 

[1] See http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/5421/urlt/statewide-postsecondary-articulation-manual.pdf, 14–15.

[2] See https://www.flbog.edu/documents_regulations/guidelines/ArticulationRegulation.pdf, 3–8.

* I understand that some programs like nursing have other articulation agreements at the state university, but many employees are unfamiliar with unique rules and student information systems and those who input the transcript data rarely identify these exception cases. Due to increasingly automated processes, acceptances/denials do not adequately account for the specific articulation rules for nursing, fire science, some computer sciences, etc.

CC: tony.lloyd@LASPBS.STATE.FL.US, sonja.powell-battles@LASPBS.STATE.FL.US, Heather.Bishop@myfloridahouse.gov, Missy.Jones@myfloridahouse.gov, Kirsten.Olsen@myfloridahouse.gov, elizabeth.porter@myfloridahouse.gov, larry.ahern@myfloridahouse.gov, Thad.Altman@myfloridahouse.gov, Richard.Stark@myfloridahouse.gov, michael.bileca@myfloridahouse.gov, Shevrin.Jones@myfloridahouse.gov, Jennifer.Sullivan@myfloridahouse.gov, Bob.Cortes@myfloridahouse.gov, mel.ponder@myfloridahouse.gov, Larry.Lee@myfloridahouse.gov, Commissioner@fldoe.org, jbuchanan@admin.fsu.edu, william.hudsonjr@famu.edu, emassey@irsc.edu, kborglum@valenciacollege.edu, articulation@fldoe.org

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