State Legislation with Consequences for the UMW Curriculum

We are going to need to respond to legislative developments on a number of fronts, and required actions on our part may have curricular or academic program impacts.  One immediate issue of concern is the new state law regarding equity in the award of college credit for International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.  Section 23-9.2:3.8 of the Code of Virginia outlines . . .

the requirements.  The legislation addressed the concern that IB courses were not given equal treatment when compared to the transfer credit awarded for AP courses.  The legislation in particular stipulates that an educational institution’s policies “for course credit for standard and higher level International Baccalaureate courses shall be comparable to its policies for granting course credit for Advanced Placement courses.” UMW currently awards no credit for standard level IB exams, as is true of several other schools in the Commonwealth.  This is just one issue we will need to tackle in connection with the requirements of this legislation.  The other is the requirement that the completion of the IB diploma program earn college credit.  We currently award credit only for test scores, and only for qualifying scores on the higher-level tests.

Faculty involvement on how to proceed is critical.  After discussing this matter with my Academic Affairs Council (which includes the deans of the three colleges), I have decided to ask the Academic Affairs Committee in the College of Arts and Sciences to look at this issue.  All of the courses awarding IB credit currently are housed in Arts and Sciences, and so this seems a logical place to proceed.  And this committee already acted on this issue on September 8, 2008.  At that time, the committee reaffirmed UMW’s policy of only awarding credit for higher-level IB exams.  The CAS Faculty Senate accepted that recommendation.  But the passage of the new state law in April 2010 compels us to take another look at the matter, and to also deal with the question of credit for IB diploma completion.

By the way, I just learned the IB credit issue will be on the agenda at the Instructional Programs Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting being held this Friday by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.  Additional details may be forthcoming depending on what’s covered at this meeting.

Another development concerns the requirement, stated in Code of Virginia Section 23-9.2:3.2, regarding the creation of “dual admission” programs.  A dual admission agreement would make it possible for qualified students to be simultaneously accepted by a community college and a four-year public institution of higher education.  Upon successful completion of an acceptable associate degree program from the community college, the student would be automatically enrolled in the four-year institution.  The College of William and Mary has such a program, which they refer to as a “co-enrollment” agreement.

Mary Washington is not alone among state higher education institutions that have not as yet developed dual admission (or co-enrollment) plans.  A recent survey conducted by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia makes that clear.  To read the report, go to the web page for SCHEV Reports and select the item titled “Review of Dual Admissions Agreements and Programs in the Virginia Higher Education System,” dated May 18, 2010.  Nine of the 15 four-year public institutions in Virginia do not have dual admission agreements at this time.  Of the six that do, they report that while the programs have been generally successful, implementing and managing them poses some challenges.

All that notwithstanding, we need to act on this issue as well.  The last time state legislation required us to implement a new program for transfer articulation with Virginia’s community colleges was the Guaranteed Admission Agreement.  UMW’s agreement was drafted by academic affairs area staff, presented to the Academic Affairs Committee for review and action, and then was adopted by a vote by the Faculty Senate.  The committee approved the proposed policy on November 20, 2006, and the Senate approved it on December 6, 2006.  Because a co-enrollment agreement would affect all of the UMW colleges, I believe it would be appropriate to submit a draft of a proposed policy to the University Faculty Council (UFC) and to solicit their input on how to proceed from there regarding development of a policy and securing the necessary faculty approvals.  In consultation with other offices as appropriate (such as Admissions, the Registrar, and Academic Services), my Academic Affairs Council will work up the draft and then submit it to the UFC as a first step.

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