Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

01/31/2019 09:00 AM EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
09:00:12 AM Start
09:00:22 AM SB31
09:50:49 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time Change --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
-- Teleconference <Invitation Only> --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         SB  31-UNIVERSITY CURRICULA; TRANSFER CREDITS                                                                      
9:00:22 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  announced consideration of SB  31. Senator Stevens                                                               
said his intent was to introduce  and hear testimony on SB 31 and                                                               
hold the bill in committee.                                                                                                     
9:00:41 AM                                                                                                                    
TIM   LAMKIN,  Staff,   Senator   Gary   Stevens,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau,  Alaska, said  that SB 31  was an  effort to                                                               
improve the transparency  of the transfer process  of credits for                                                               
students  transferring  between  schools  in  the  University  of                                                               
Alaska (UA)  system.  Historically,  across the  nation, students                                                               
have  lost nearly  half their  college credits  when transferring                                                               
from one school  to another. They burn up their  financial aid by                                                               
having to repeat courses. Often,  to save money, students tend to                                                               
go  to  a   lower-cost  community  college  before   going  to  a                                                               
university  to  complete  a bachelor's  degree.  They  are  often                                                               
frustrated to learn  that the base courses they  have taken don't                                                               
transfer and  must be  repeated. That means  more time  and money                                                               
before they can graduate.                                                                                                       
MR. LAMKIN said that data  for 2004-2009 from the U.S. Department                                                               
of Education  confirms this.  This bill is  an effort  to improve                                                               
that.  He did  want to  acknowledge the  efforts made  by the  UA                                                               
Board of  Regents. The  board has a  policy that  addresses this,                                                               
but there  is no statute. They  have made strides to  improve the                                                               
alignment of  curriculum across the campuses  and transferability                                                               
of credits, but  the question before the committee  is whether it                                                               
is enough.                                                                                                                      
MR. LAMKIN  said the question for  the UA system for  decades has                                                               
been,  "Are  we one  or  are  we  three."  The Board  of  Regents                                                               
wrangles  with  this question  and  the  transfer of  credit.  He                                                               
pointed out that  their packets contain a study  by the Education                                                               
Commission of  the States  (ECS) that  has a  breakdown state-by-                                                               
state regarding  four questions  regarding the  transferablity of                                                               
core, lower division courses. These  include do they have common,                                                               
statewide course  numbering, guaranteed transfer of  an associate                                                               
degree, and statewide reverse transfer.                                                                                         
MR. LAMKIN said he looked  specifically at the transferability of                                                               
the core,  lower division courses.  There is a board  policy that                                                               
indicates  that  a  student who  completes  a  general  education                                                               
requirement  (GER) at  one campus  can transfer  that to  another                                                               
MR. LAMKIN said that common  course numbering and transferability                                                               
of associate degrees are encouraged, but not guaranteed.                                                                        
9:05:16 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   COSTELLO    said   that   it   was    surprising   that                                                               
transferability  of  credit requires  a  bill.  She referenced  a                                                               
comprehensive  study looking  at  all  challenges the  university                                                               
faces.  She would  like  a  report on  the  status  of all  those                                                               
issues.  Transferability was  one of  the major  frustrations for                                                               
students and was highlighted in the [James] Fisher report.                                                                      
CHAIR  STEVENS noted  that  Mr.  Lamkin served  on  the Board  of                                                               
Regents while  a student  at the  University of  Alaska Fairbanks                                                               
MR.  LAMKIN said  he has  the official  report on  file. He  also                                                               
noted that he was the Vice  President of the Board of Regents and                                                               
the first student  regent elevated to the executive  level of the                                                               
9:06:34 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES said  in the EDC report  about the transferability                                                               
of  credits,  some  states  were  shown  as  yeses  to  all  four                                                               
questions. Alaska was shown as a yes  to one and no to three. The                                                               
yes question  was for board  policy regarding  transferability of                                                               
credit. She asked  if the legislation was needed  if the transfer                                                               
of GERs in the system already was board policy.                                                                                 
MR. LAMKIN  said the question is  if the policy that  is in place                                                               
is enough.   Half the states have statutes to  reinforce that and                                                               
half do not. The online versions  of each campus's GERs appear to                                                               
align,  but  part of  bill  is  to ensure  that  it  is easy  and                                                               
transparent for students to understand.                                                                                         
9:08:39 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BIRCH said  he is keenly interested in this.  He is aware                                                               
of  transferability  issues between  UAF  and  the University  of                                                               
Alaska   Anchorage  (UAA).   He  gave   an  example   of  someone                                                               
encountering differences between a  journalism program at UAA and                                                               
at UAF. He wants to hear  from the university about progress they                                                               
are  making  absent   legislation.  He  asked  if   the  loss  of                                                               
accreditation for  the UAA School  of Education would  affect the                                                               
transferability of those credits.                                                                                               
CHAIR STEVENS said  progress has been made. When he  was with the                                                               
university  20 years  ago, students  were upset  about having  to                                                               
repeat classes.  He understands that campuses  can have different                                                               
course requirements, but it is  appropriate to ask the university                                                               
about  this issue.  If the  legislation  is not  needed, that  is                                                               
fine. He  hoped they would  hear from students and  faculty about                                                               
whether there is any need to continue with this.                                                                                
9:11:11 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  LAMKIN presented  the sectional  for  SB 31,  version M.  He                                                               
noted that  the language was  drafted from an Oregon  law adopted                                                               
in 2017:                                                                                                                        
Sec. 1:  Adds a new  section to the  duties of the  University of                                                               
Alaska (UA) to include: AS 14.40.185                                                                                            
     (A) The Board of Regents (BOR) shall establish foundational                                                                
         curriculum for each major degree  program, identifying a                                                               
         list of required first-year, lower division courses that                                                               
         will be fully transferable between each campus of the UA                                                               
         system. In establishing the foundational curriculum, the                                                               
         BOR shall:                                                                                                             
               1. Consult with Directors from each campus of the                                                                
                   UA system;                                                                                                   
               2. Evaluate current lower division courses                                                                       
                   offered at each campus for transferability                                                                   
                   between campuses;                                                                                            
               3.  Identify  major   areas  of  study   based  on                                                               
                   workforce demand and academic need;                                                                          
               4.  Publicly  disclose   the   criteria  used   to                                                               
                   establish the foundational curricula and major                                                               
                   areas of study;                                                                                              
               5.  Distribute  the  foundational  curriculum  for                                                               
                   each major area of study to each campus of the                                                               
                   University of Alaska for replication;                                                                        
               6.  Determine and describe the courses, completion                                                               
                   standards, and the optimal  number of academic                                                               
                   credits for the foundational curriculum for an                                                               
                   academic degree program in each  major area of                                                               
               7.  Update the  foundational  curricula and  major                                                               
                   areas of study as necessary;                                                                                 
               8.  Provide information  and technical  assistance                                                               
                   to   each  campus   about   implementing   the                                                               
                   foundational curricula and the transferability                                                               
                   of credits; and                                                                                              
               9.  Evaluate  the   effect  of   the  foundational                                                               
                   curricula on transferability  of course credit                                                               
                   and report annually to the  legislature on the                                                               
                   implementation and success of the foundational                                                               
                   curricula and credit  transfer activity within                                                               
                   the UA system.                                                                                               
     (B) Specifies the BOR shall make foundational curricula                                                                    
         course credit fully transferable for UA students within                                                                
         the UA system.                                                                                                         
     (C) All students of UA shall be provided with information                                                                  
         about foundational curriculum and respective course                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS  pointed  out  that   the  bill  applies  only  to                                                               
foundational curriculum, not every class.                                                                                       
SENATOR  HUGHES recalled  her struggle  to transfer  credits more                                                               
than 30 years  ago when she transferred from  a community college                                                               
to the university. She has  been cognizant of requests year after                                                               
year since she has been in  the legislature for the university to                                                               
step up and improve this. She also wants to hear from students.                                                                 
SENATOR HUGHES asked about one year  instead of two since to earn                                                               
a bachelor's  degree, GERs  usually take  two years  to complete.                                                               
She  asked why  it would  be for  each academic  program as  that                                                               
implied  there was  different  foundational  curriculum for  each                                                               
area of study. She asked if there  could be two years of GERs for                                                               
any bachelor's  degree program so that  undeclared students would                                                               
not be wasting their time.                                                                                                      
MR.  LAMKIN replied  that  page  two, lines  30-31,  of the  bill                                                               
refers to  students who have not  yet identified a major  area of                                                               
study.  GERs are  one  and  two hundred  level  courses that  are                                                               
usually  for  every student.  He  will  let academicians  address                                                               
SENATOR HUGHES said  she was confused about why there  would be a                                                               
need for curriculum for each  academic program. She asked whether                                                               
it could be two years instead of one.                                                                                           
9:20:12 AM                                                                                                                    
PAUL  LAYER,  Ph.D.,  Vice  President,  Academics,  Students  and                                                               
Research,  University  of  Alaska, Fairbanks,  Alaska,  said  the                                                               
university  has  done  a  lot  regarding  the  transferablity  of                                                               
credits  for  foundational  courses   or  GERs.  As  required  by                                                               
regents' policy and  regulation, they have taken  steps to ensure                                                               
transferability  of credits  across  the system.  As  far as  the                                                               
question regarding one or three, they  are one. They have one set                                                               
of  general  ed requirements  that  totals  34 credits,  so  that                                                               
represents a multiyear experience.                                                                                              
DR.  LAYER said  the  system  has provisions  that  if a  student                                                               
completes  all or  part  of the  GERs at  any  campus, they  will                                                               
transfer across the system. The faculty  did a lot of work, based                                                               
upon the  results of the  Fisher report, to align  course numbers                                                               
across  the  system.  That  is  relatively  new  this  year.  For                                                               
example, Writing  111 is the same  at all campuses. They  do meet                                                               
those four  criteria. He thanked  the Senate for  the opportunity                                                               
to  highlight the  changes  and improvements  they  have made  in                                                               
transferability of credits.                                                                                                     
SENATOR HUGHES said  it seems that they  are already implementing                                                               
the policy  in the bill.  She asked  if they are  still receiving                                                               
complaints from students about credit transferability.                                                                          
DR. LAYER said  they always have students who  have difficulty in                                                               
transferring  credits. For  example,  a student  in an  associate                                                               
program at a community campus may  choose to take a geology class                                                               
that meets  the requirement  for an associate  degree, but  for a                                                               
later  major should  have taken  chemistry. That  is an  advising                                                               
issue. They  have removed some  of those barriers, but  they have                                                               
not eliminated all student concerns.                                                                                            
SENATOR  HUGHES said  that with  the science  course example  she                                                               
could see  that perhaps only one  year of courses could  apply to                                                               
all degrees.                                                                                                                    
DR. LAYER  said that  for undecided students,  there are  a basic                                                               
set  of  courses  to  meet requirements  for  almost  any  major:                                                               
writing, communications,  and quantitative skills.  An undeclared                                                               
student could have two years of curriculum in any university.                                                                   
SENATOR BIRCH  said in  the past printed  catalogs specific  to a                                                               
year  described  degree requirements.  He  asked  how that  works                                                               
across the university system today.                                                                                             
DR.  LAYER  answered  that  there are  no  printed  catalogs  any                                                               
longer, but  catalogs are  still tied to  the year.  Students can                                                               
graduate under the  catalog of the year they entered  or the year                                                               
they graduate  so that there  are no moving goal  posts. Catalogs                                                               
do have  details about GERs  and a  matrix of courses  across the                                                               
system that are available to meet those GERs.                                                                                   
9:29:17 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BIRCH  said his  district, and Alaska  in general,  has a                                                               
large  military   contingent.  Many  of  them   are  younger  and                                                               
interested in  advancing careers through continuous  education or                                                               
degree programs.  The transferablity  issue has surfaced  in some                                                               
of  those  discussions.  He  asked  Dr. Layer  to  speak  to  the                                                               
accreditation  issue  in  Anchorage   and  how  it  would  affect                                                               
students who want to transfer credits.                                                                                          
DR.  LAYER responded  that [University  of  Alaska President]  Dr                                                               
Johnsen will be  testifying before the committee  next week about                                                               
the School  of Education  accreditation issue.  All three  of the                                                               
universities  are  accredited  by  the  Northwest  Commission  on                                                               
Colleges  and Universities  (NWCCU). That  means the  courses are                                                               
accredited by  NWCCU. UAA just successfully  completed its review                                                               
with that group.  The Council for the  Accreditation of Education                                                               
Preparation  (CAEP) focused  on programmatic  issues rather  than                                                               
courses  or   curriculum  issues.  They  have   transferred  some                                                               
education students from  UAA to UAF or UAS  (University of Alaska                                                               
DR. Layer  said that most  difficulty with credit  transfer comes                                                               
at the upper division level.  Different majors may have different                                                               
emphases at different campuses.                                                                                                 
DR. LAYER said  that as far as the military  goes, they have many                                                               
transfer  arrangements  with  outside   universities  to  UA  and                                                               
mobility within  the university. So  many courses are  online now                                                               
that  their objective  is that  students can  take those  courses                                                               
across the  system and  have them count  for their  degrees. They                                                               
have gone  a long way  towards implementing that,  especially for                                                               
their foundational or core courses.                                                                                             
CHAIR STEVENS said it is good  to hear that students can transfer                                                               
a year of foundational courses within the UA system.                                                                            
9:33:50 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES  said that  in  other  states this  is  sometimes                                                               
handled simply  by agreements and  not statutorily  mandated. She                                                               
asked  has work  been  done so  that not  just  credits but  also                                                               
associate  degrees   between  campuses  will  be   accepted.  She                                                               
understands that although it is  the UA system, the accreditation                                                               
process is separate for the campuses.                                                                                           
DR. LAYER answered that an  associate degree and the foundational                                                               
GERs will  transfer between  campuses. That  is board  policy. He                                                               
said he  would like to work  with the committee to  show how they                                                               
have made improvements in these  areas. They are three separately                                                               
accredited universities, but through  policy and regulation, they                                                               
have established  one foundational  set of GERs.  Their community                                                               
campuses are not separate from  their universities. They are part                                                               
of UAA, UAF.  or UAS. A student  at Kenai is a  UAA student. This                                                               
is a bit  different from most states where  the community college                                                               
is separate system.  UA has a different  structure with community                                                               
SENATOR HUGHES asked about the  June 2018 Education Commission of                                                               
the  States report,  which shows  Alaska  as a  no for  statewide                                                               
guarantee of  transferability of associate degrees.  She asked if                                                               
that chart is incorrect.                                                                                                        
DR.  LAYER  answered that  he  would  need  to  look at  the  ECS                                                               
definition of "guarantee." Their  policies are explicit regarding                                                               
transferability. Alaska is also a  no for reverse transfer on the                                                               
ECS report  but pointed out  that it doesn't apply  because there                                                               
is  no  separate  community college  system  in  Alaska.  Reverse                                                               
transfer means  that if  someone completes  most of  an associate                                                               
degree  at a  community college  and then  finishes courses  at a                                                               
university,  that  community  college would  award  an  associate                                                               
DR. LAYER  added that the  faculty completed the work  on general                                                               
education courses and  curriculum alignment in May  of last year,                                                               
after the ECS report was compiled.                                                                                              
CHAIR STEVENS  opened public testimony.  He noted that  Dr. Keith                                                               
Hamilton is a  member of the Alaska State Board  of Education and                                                               
Early Development and president of Alaska Christian College.                                                                    
9:41:00 AM                                                                                                                    
KEITH HAMILTON, Ph.D., representing  self, Soldotna, Alaska, said                                                               
he is  grateful to see the  bill, adding perhaps that  SB 31 does                                                               
not go  far enough. He  said that since  the transfer of  100 and                                                               
200 level  courses and  associate degrees in  the UA  system have                                                               
had hiccups,  he was  glad to  hear the  prior testimony.  In the                                                               
past two years,  ACPE and the State Board have  sent two separate                                                               
resolutions calling  for a streamlining  of credit  transfer from                                                               
colleges that  are not part of  the UA system. Dr.  Hamilton said                                                               
he is aware of no changes following those resolutions.                                                                          
DR. HAMILTON  said as  a college  president, he  is aware  of the                                                               
difficulty of  transferring credits into  the UA system  when not                                                               
part of  the system. He has  spoken with the president  of Alaska                                                               
Pacific   University  about   APU's   difficulties  with   credit                                                               
transfer. A leader at AVTEC spoke  with him about two great AVTEC                                                               
programs that  UAF will accept  for full transfer, but  UAA would                                                               
not rearticulate an  agreement when it expired. For  years he has                                                               
attempted to  get articulated agreements or  a streamlined credit                                                               
transfer process  with UA. It would  be a triple win  for Alaska,                                                               
for  students,  and  the  university   to  have  seamless  credit                                                               
transfer  articulation among  all accredited  colleges throughout                                                               
the state.                                                                                                                      
CHAIR STEVENS said that is an issue beyond SB 31 to think about.                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES  said that  Idaho does what  he is  talking about:                                                               
any  credits from  a regionally  accredited  institution must  be                                                               
accepted by the public university system.                                                                                       
CHAIR  STEVENS   responded  that  is  something   that  could  be                                                               
SENATOR HUGHES  said it seems  that the university would  want to                                                               
help students  with two-year degrees  from outside the  UA system                                                               
obtain bachelor's degrees.                                                                                                      
9:46:36 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKE COONS,  representing self, Palmer,  Alaska, said  he opposed                                                               
SB 31 because  it does not go  far enough. As someone  with an AA                                                               
in emergency  medicine, he found  many courses  to be a  waste of                                                               
time  because the  GERS did  not relate  to his  profession. This                                                               
bill would  only transfer, perhaps,  the first year. It  does not                                                               
address  credits outside  of UA.  What happens  to a  person with                                                               
more than a year of credit  stationed at Eielson [Air Force Base]                                                               
who gets  transferred to JBER [Joint  Base Elmendorf-Richardson].                                                               
He asked  if the average  student knows how  to check on  what is                                                               
transferable prior to  taking courses. He asked  whether UAA will                                                               
assure  that counselors  will be  knowledgeable about  this. This                                                               
issue has  been a blight  on UAA, and this  bill does not  go far                                                               
CHAIR STEVENS said  in his hometown, they have  about 2,500 Coast                                                               
Guard men and women, some of  whom work on degrees while they get                                                               
stationed at various places. That is an important issue.                                                                        
9:49:58 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS closed  public  testimony and  noted  there is  an                                                               
indeterminate fiscal note. He held SB 31 in committee.                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB031_UnivAKCreditTransfer_BillText_VersionM.pdf SEDC 1/31/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 31
SB031_UnivAKCreditTransfer_SponsorStatement.pdf SEDC 1/31/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 31
SB031_UnivAKCreditTransfer_Sectional_VersionM.pdf SEDC 1/31/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 31
SB031_UnivAKCreditTransfers_FiscalNote01_UnivAK_28Jan2019.pdf SEDC 1/31/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 31
SB031_UnivAKCreditTransfer_Research_ECS_June2018.pdf SEDC 1/31/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 31
SB031_UnivAKCreditTransfer_Research_WaPost_Sept2017.pdf SEDC 1/31/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 31
SB031_UnivAKCreditTransfer_Research_USNews_Nov2016.pdf SEDC 1/31/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 31
SB031_UnivAKCreditTransfer_Research_InsideHigherED_June2015.pdf SEDC 1/31/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 31
SB031_UnivAKCreditTransfer_Research_NewAmerica_April2015.pdf SEDC 1/31/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 31