Coordinated curricula between community colleges and four-year institutions through articulation agreements with institutions in the area.
Articulation agreements are often the most prominent feature of the transfer mission. Although more and more states are becoming involved in articulation agreements, there is currently no single model (Rifkin, 1998). Ignash and Towsend (2000) describes some different approaches:
To ensure ease of transfer, defined by Kintzer and Wattenbarger (1985, p. iii) as “the mechanics of credit, course, and curriculum exchange,” most states have emphasized the “documents approach” (Bers, 1994, p. 249). This approach “emphasizes the development and ongoing maintenance of formal or official agreements related to course equivalencies, articulated 2 + 2 programs, legislative or state agency policies related to transfer, and perhaps statistical reports about student transfer, persistence, and academic performance” (Bers, 1994, p. 249). In a deregulated state system, individual institutions may have the responsibility for establishing articulation agreements concerning which courses, programs, and degrees will transfer from institution to institution. In a more regulated system the state may provide some general guidelines and incentives for institutions to develop these agreements; and in a highly regulated system the state may mandate that the associate of arts degree be accepted at all state institutions, as in Florida, for example.
In a 1999 study Ignash found that 34 states (out of 43 responding to an 11-question survey sent to executive directors of state higher education and community college agencies) had developed statewide articulation agreements. Thirty-three of these 34 agreements were two-year to four-year articulations, suggesting that this type of transfer has received the most attention. The majority of statewide agreements involved public-sector institutions only. Another study, Transfer and Articulation Policies, conducted by the Education Commission of the States, lists legislation, cooperative agreements, transfer data reporting, incentives and rewards, statewide articulation guides, common core curricula, and common course numbering for each state (ECS, 2001). Wellman (2002) examined state transfer policies in Arkansas, Florida, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, and Texas to determine how each state “uses state policy to affect transfer performance, looking at several dimensions of state policy: governance, enrollment planning, academic policies affecting transfer, and data collection and accountability.”
These studies raise three questions. First, what is the appropriate scope for an articulation agreement? Students whose geographic mobility is constrained by factors other than education may see little value in agreements that cover a large geographical area if they do not address specific local needs. Second, are some articulation agreements better than others,