Helping veterans and service members move from the military to the workforce. Report to the 83 rd Legislature

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1 Helping veterans and service members move from the military to the workforce Report to the 83 rd Legislature and Governor Rick Perry

2 Workforce Commission Mission To promote and support an effective workforce system that offers employers, individuals, and communities the opportunity to achieve and sustain economic prosperity.

3 College CrediT for Heroes report To THe 83 rd legislature and governor rick perry Table of ConTenTs Letter from the Commissioners...2 Executive Summary...4 Background...7 Critical Timing: Opportunities for Veterans, Colleges, and Employers...9 Barriers to Award of College Credit: Initial Analysis...13 Statutes Regarding Credit for Military Service...16 College Credit for Heroes Project Summaries...18 Fiscal Impact of College Credit for Heroes..27 Appendices Appendix 1 Senate Bill Appendix 2 Best Practices...44 Appendix 3 Meetings of the Inter-College Council on Veterans...48 Appendix 4 Outreach Meetings...49 Appendix 5 Colleges in Attendance at Veterans Excellence Conference...54 Endnotes...55 Lessons Learned: Findings from College Credit for Heroes Projects...32 Recommendations: Additional Measures Needed...36 Statement of Acknowledgement...40

4 The honorable rick Perry The honorable DaviD DewhursT The honorable Joe straus MeMbers of The legislature This report is presented as directed by Senate Bill (SB) 1736, 82 nd Legislature, Regular Session (2011). The Workforce Commission (TWC) is honored to continue its record of assisting thousands of veterans to find civilian careers with the College Credit for Heroes program. Since initial grants were made in July 2011, the College Credit for Heroes program has directly assisted hundreds of veterans and active servicemembers, and has prepared for expediting the transition of thousands more into the workforce. In administering College Credit for Heroes, TWC partnered with seven community colleges in areas of the state with the highest numbers or concentrations of veterans Houston, San Antonio, and Killeen/Temple. The Higher Education Coordinating Board provided expert consultation early on and during the project. Working with TWC, our seven partner colleges developed innovative and collaborative programs designed to maximize the award of college or workforce credit for military training and experience, and to speed entry into the workforce for hundreds of returning servicemembers. The initial focus for the College Credit for Heroes program has been on allied health careers high-pay, high-demand jobs in our state s economy. Partnering colleges have revised academic curricula, adopted pioneering practices, and challenged existing assumptions about the award of college credit, proving that collaboration can result in system-wide changes that benefit the thousands of military men and women who are seeking civilian careers in. The second phase of the program will expand to other regions of the state, additional colleges and universities, and expand to more occupations. 2 College Credit for Heroes

5 A key part of the program created a website for veterans and servicemembers to use in translating military experience into college credit. Based on an initial analysis of the new College Credit for Heroes website, for veterans receiving academic, workforce, and other credit, the average participant received 34 semester hours of college credit about a year s worth of college. TWC and the seven partnering community colleges will continue to work to ensure that veterans and servicemembers will benefit from the College Credit for Heroes program. TWC is pleased to present this report on the success of the College Credit for Heroes program. We look forward to your continued support. Andres Alcantar, TWC Chairman and Commissioner Representing the Public Ronald G. Congleton, TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Tom Pauken, TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Report to the legislature 3

6 executive summary On average, veterans and servicemembers received 34 semester hours of college credit in academic, workforce, and other credit about a year s worth of college when their military training was evaluated through the College Credit for Heroes website. Senate Bill 1736, passed by the 82 nd Legislature, authorized the College Credit for Heroes program to identify, develop, and support methods to maximize college credit awarded to veterans and military servicemembers for their military experience, education, and training. The legislation also requires the Workforce Commission (TWC), in consultation with the Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), to report to the Legislature and the Governor on: Results of the grants awarded; Best practices for veterans and military servicemembers to achieve maximum academic and workforce credit for military education and training; Measures needed to facilitate the award of academic or workforce education credit by institutions of higher education for military experience, education, and the training; and Other related measures needed to facilitate entry of trained, qualified veterans and military servicemembers into the workforce. The goal of the College Credit for Heroes program is to create a statewide system that ensures all student veterans and servicemembers are awarded maximum college credit in our state colleges and universities for military training, education, and experience. The system should eliminate obstacles to attaining licensing, certification and accreditation, and degree awards at state and national levels so that veterans transition more quickly from college classrooms to the workforce. Seven community colleges are participating in the College Credit for Heroes program, including Central College, the Lone Star College System, Lee College, the Houston Community College System, Alamo Colleges, Temple College and San Jacinto College. Faculty and staff at institutions of higher education already have methods to translate military training and experience into college credit. College Credit for Heroes builds on existing methods, expanding the possibilities of higher education and employment for thousands of men and women who have put their lives on the line for their country. findings On average, veterans and servicemembers received 34 semester hours of college credit in academic, workforce, and other credit about a year s worth of college when their military training was evaluated through the College Credit for Heroes website ( Federal and state savings resulted from streamlined health training programs. For veterans and servicemembers, saving time spent in college classrooms and speeding entry into the workforce is invaluable. Entry into the civilian workforce is delayed when veterans are required to needlessly repeat coursework or training they received in the military. Best practices to prevent such repetition, as developed by College Credit for Heroes partner colleges, are outlined in Appendix 2. Widespread adoption of College Credit for Heroes best practices and recommendations in this report position as the national model for translating military training into college credit, and for accelerating veterans entry into civilian careers. 4 College Credit for Heroes

7 Our nation s lack of consistent academic policies and procedures on the award of college credit for military training and experience presents unnecessary and costly barriers to degrees, licenses, and certificates that veterans need to enter the civilian workforce. State laws and regulatory and educational accreditation requirements pose additional limitations on the award of college credit for veterans and servicemembers. Late in the project, several participating colleges identified concerns requiring coordination with the regional accrediting body for colleges and universities to ensure their actions will benefit veterans and servicemembers. THECB, TWC, and participating colleges will seek to ensure that accreditation guidelines will allow the best interpretations and options for the award of academic credit based on military training and experience from the College Credit for Heroes website. TWC s College Credit for Heroes program has been a very cost-effective program that will hasten entry into the civilian workforce for veterans. In seven initial projects, nursing and allied health education was streamlined for experienced veterans and servicemembers. Moreover, these programs can provide a qualified health care workforce, and high-demand, high-pay civilian jobs for veterans. Additional Measures Needed The following recommendations stem from research by partner colleges and TWC and are discussed further in the report. These actions will enhance veterans college, certification or licensure, and provide greater opportunities for workforce success. Expand TWC s College Credit for Heroes program to other colleges and universities, geographic areas, and other professions. Continue to improve the College Credit for Heroes website ( Identify a funding plan to expand Central College s website and database to maintain and improve the college s ability to provide official transcripts or evaluations to veterans and servicemembers. An expansion will enable more colleges and universities to assess credit evaluated, as well as reducing staff time currently necessary to conduct assessments at each college or university. Work with participating institutions on their efforts to seek the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) support for statewide efforts to eliminate barriers to the award of credit for veterans and servicemembers. College Credit for Heroes program has been a very costeffective program that will speed entry into the civilian workforce for veterans. These programs can provide a qualified health care workforce, and highdemand, high-pay civilian jobs for veterans. Encourage colleges and universities to adopt streamlined College Credit for Heroes curricula for associate degree registered nursing, surgical technology certificate programs, and emergency medical services programs. Report to the legislature 5

8 Encourage greater use of prior learning assessments and other competency-based models to maximize award of credit for military experience and training. Encourage colleges and universities to adopt streamlined College Credit for Heroes curricula for Associate of Applied Sciences (AAS) degrees in Health Information Technology: Health Management Medical Laboratory Technician Specialty, Health Management Occupational Therapy Assistant Specialty, and Health Management Radiography Technologist Specialty. Ensure continued communication among colleges, universities, TWC, THECB, and local employers and businesses on the award of college credit for veterans and servicemembers. Disseminate information statewide on College Credit for Heroes projects and encourage colleges and universities to adopt College Credit for Heroes best practices. Encourage colleges and universities to develop articulation agreements and memoranda of understanding with Central College to accept all credit evaluated or awarded for military service under the College Credit for Heroes program. Continue progress made in allied health and address limitations for military obtaining licensing or certification in other allied health professions. Expand College Credit for Heroes outreach to veterans and active servicemembers who enlisted in the military from or who are willing to relocate to. Continue collaboration among TWC and THECB, military bases and installations in (including the Medical Education and Training Campus (METC), Fort Hood, Fort Sam Houston, Fort Bliss, and others), and colleges and universities to improve the award of college credit and the transition to the civilian workforce. Clarify statutory provisions on the award of credit for military service and training. Improve public awareness of the impact and opportunities presented by thousands of veterans on college and university campuses. Encourage other schools to become members of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium and to use American Council on Education (ACE) credit recommendations and accept transcripts or evaluations of military experience and training from Central College on the award of college credit. Consider ways to help veterans and servicemembers determine if colleges and universities are military-friendly. Initiate activities to identify licensing or certification barriers for veterans and servicemembers across additional professions, including barriers for their spouses who hold professional certificates or licenses from other states. 6 College Credit for Heroes

9 Background On April 13, 2010, the Workforce Commission (TWC) approved the $3 million Workforce Investment Act (WIA) statewide initiative designed to maximize a veteran s military experiences for college credit and employment, especially for allied health careers. On June 3, 2010, Governor Rick Perry announced the Comprehensive Veterans Initiative, with TWC providing funding for three areas of San Antonio, Houston, and Temple with the highest number or greatest concentration of veterans. Bexar and Harris counties had the highest number of veterans in the age group, the age group most likely to attend college, and Bell County had the highest concentration of veterans in that age group among counties with the greatest number of veterans. Counties with the Highest Number and Concentration of Veterans Ages County Estimated Number of Veterans, 2012 Bexar 46, % Harris 39, % Bell 16, % Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Ages as Percentage of County Population Seven community colleges in these areas were selected to develop model programs for veterans and servicemembers to obtain the maximum credit from their military experience toward a degree or a professional certification. Colleges participating in Phase I of the initiative were: Bell County: Central College and Temple College Bexar County: Alamo Colleges Harris County: Houston Community College System, Lee College, Lone Star College System, and San Jacinto College Initially, the project focused on high-demand allied health careers. Allied health includes occupations such as physical therapy, x-ray and pharmacy technicians, licensed vocational nursing, and similar professions. In May 2011, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte successfully sponsored Senate Bill 1736 (see Appendix 1) that authorized the program to identify, develop, and support methods to maximize college credit awarded to veterans and military servicemembers for their military experience, education, and training in order to expedite entry into the workforce. Report to the legislature 7

10 Governor Rick Perry signed into law SB 1736, and TWC awarded contracts to seven participating community colleges in June and July These projects are described in College Credit for Heroes Project Summaries. Since then, each of the seven colleges has worked individually on its own project, and collectively as part of the newly formed Inter-College Council on Veterans, to develop and test models for maximizing college and workforce credit awarded from military training and experience. The formation of the Inter-College Council on Veterans enabled the colleges to meet monthly to discuss challenges, report on progress, and to exchange ideas and information. TWC and THECB participated in meetings, with TWC hosting several of them. During development, TWC and partner colleges conducted multiple outreach activities to other institutions to inform them of the projects and encourage others to replicate or design new projects. (See Appendix 4 for a list of outreach activities.) Phase II of College Credit for Heroes began on September 4, 2012, with approval from TWC s three-member Commission to set aside $1.3 million in federal WIA performance incentive funds to continue this initiative through a competitive Request for Proposals process. Approximately $950,000 has been directed toward Phase II projects to be generated from competitive proposals that address certificate, license, or degree programs in any of the following six industry clusters: Advanced technologies and manufacturing Aerospace and defense Biotechnology and life sciences, including health care Information and computer technology Petroleum refining and chemical products Energy The remaining funding, up to $350,000, was designated to continue and expand College Credit for Heroes services, including the website and database at Central College over the next 12 months. 8 College Credit for Heroes

11 Critical Timing: Opportunities for Veterans, Colleges, and Employers TWC s College Credit for Heroes program was established at a critical time for veterans, colleges and universities, allied health training, employers, and the state of. Veterans deserve recognition of their hard-earned, often battle-tested skills. They can translate skills learned in military courses into high-demand civilian careers. Still, they face employment challenges. The unemployment rate for veterans who served in active duty at any time since September 2001 was 12.1 percent in 2011, above the average rate of the general U.S. population at the time. A closer look at the data reveals a difficult picture for younger veterans. For younger male veterans ages 18 to 24 who served since September 2001, the national unemployment rate was 29.1 percent, compared to their civilian counterparts national unemployment rate of 17.6 percent. Younger female veterans faced even higher national unemployment rates. Women ages 18 to 24 had a 36.1 percent unemployment rate compared to 14.5 percent among nonveterans. When male and female veterans are combined, looking at all veterans age 18 to 24, 30.2 percent were unemployed versus 16.1 percent of the total population. This means young veterans were almost twice as likely to be unemployed as their peers. 1 Sheer numbers of veterans make the timing of this program critical to. has deployed approximately 303,000, or 12.4 percent, of the total active military, guard, or reserve forces in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars the greatest number of all states. 2 Overall, has about 1.7 million veterans. Of these, approximately 393,000 are between the ages of 17 and 44, the ages most likely to attend college. 3 In federal Fiscal Year 2011, nearly 77,000 veterans received federal educational aid, generally known as the GI Bill. Most veterans using the GI Bill, about 50,000, or 65 percent of the total, participated in the newest GI Bill, called the Post-9/11 GI Bill. 4 On behalf of veterans, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spent about $987 million on educational benefits, vocational rehabilitation, automobiles and adaptive equipment for disabled veterans, and specially adapted housing for disabled veterans in FFY Breakdowns of expenditures beyond this level of detail, to separately identify federal educational benefits alone, are not readily available at the state level. 6 The unemployment rate for veterans who served in active duty at any time since Sept was 12.1 percent in 2011, above the average rate of the general U.S. population at the time. The national unemployment rate among young male veterans age was 29.1 percent and female veterans age had a 36.1 percent unemployment rate. Report to the legislature 9

12 For Federal Fiscal Year 2013, the VA estimates that more than 606,000 people, including more than 508,000 veterans, will use Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits. The total estimated 2013 national cost of the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits is $9.9 billion; the average cost per recipient is $16, As they return from combat and international and domestic posts, veterans will seek to use one of the seven federal education benefits for which they qualify. The Post-9/11 GI Bill became effective August For veterans with at least 36 months of active duty, it provides 100 percent funding of full-time college tuition and fees sufficient to cover all in-state tuition and fees for public schools, and up to $18, per academic year for private schools. 7 Veterans who are discharged with a service-related disability also qualify for 100 percent coverage of tuition and fees. Veterans who have served less than 36 months in military service qualify for between 40 and 90 percent funding of college tuition and fees, if they have served at least 90 days in the military. The exact percentage depends on the number of months they have served. 8 In addition, veterans earn a monthly housing allowance and an annual book and supplies stipend of $1,000 while enrolled. 9 In comparison, the older Montgomery GI Bill educational benefits pay a fixed amount of tuition assistance $1,564 monthly for FFY 2013 for veterans serving at least 36 months of active duty. Benefits last for up to 36 months of education and training, and are good for 10 years following a service member s release from active duty. Some veterans participating in the Montgomery GI Bill program may have paid into a buy-up program that entitles them to additional educational benefits. 10 The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides the single best opportunity for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to obtain certificates, licenses, and associate and bachelor s degrees, as well as graduate educations, paid by federal taxpayers. Indeed, the benefits provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill are the most widely used education benefits offered by the VA. 11 Yet, veterans traditionally have not maximized their GI Bill education benefits. Nationally, between 1985 and 1994, only about eight percent (52,000) of veterans used all of their GI Bill benefits. 12 A greater percentage of veterans do use some of their GI Bill education benefits. From 1985 to 2001, less than 50 percent of veterans used some of their GI Bill education benefits. Prior to the enactment of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and between 2001 and 2008, about 70 percent of veterans used some education benefits. 13 For FFY 2013, the VA estimates that more than 606,000 people, including more than 508,000 veterans (the remainder are eligible spouses or dependents), will use Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits. The total estimated 2013 national cost of the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits is $9.9 billion; the average cost per recipient is $16, Six colleges are among the top 30 U.S. institutions of higher education that have the most veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill since its beginning in 2009: Central College Austin Community College Lone Star College System San Antonio College Tarrant County College University of at San Antonio College Credit for Heroes

13 Moreover, the number of veterans attending institutions of higher education is growing and expected to grow larger. While there is no systematic statewide, college-by-college reporting of veterans in colleges and universities, the State Auditor s Office survey found that 42,312 veterans, current military servicemembers, and their dependents were enrolled in colleges in fall 2009, representing an increase of 31 percent from fall Demand for health care professionals, the initial target for TWC s College Credit for Heroes program, is also growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates about 5.7 million new jobs in the health care and social service sector will be created between , representing nearly a third of all new jobs in service industries, and about 28 percent of all new jobs in the U.S. economy. Health care professions represent seven out of the top 20 fastestgrowing occupations. 17 Moreover, average earnings of health care workers are high. For example, full-time health care practitioner and technical occupations earned a mean of $30.23 per hour in This includes registered nurses at all levels earning a mean of $31.54, and surgical technologists earning a mean of $ The expansion of military health education in also provided an important factor. In 2010, the Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio began enrolling students in its 64 health training programs for enlisted members of the U.S. armed services the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. (Marines receive health care from Navy health practitioners.) METC consolidated all U.S. military allied health training programs for enlisted military members, combining programs from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. 19 (See METC sidebar for more information.) Partnership with METC provided a mutual benefit to both METC and College Credit for Heroes. College Credit for Heroes partner colleges worked with METC officials to develop detailed knowledge of military health training. Faculty at the colleges developed comparisons with civilian health training, and then decided how to accept military training in lieu of making veterans and servicemembers repeat coursework. They found that many learning objectives and skills were identical between some military and civilian training. The State Auditor s Office survey found that 42,312 veterans, current military servicemembers, and their dependents were enrolled in colleges in fall 2009, representing an increase of 31 percent from fall For METC, Alamo and Houston Community College System developed programs that will enable METC instructors to obtain associate degrees. To maintain accreditation with the Community College of the Air Force (accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS), METC instructors are required to have at least an associate degree within a year of arrival at the base. Report to the legislature 11

14 Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) Under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process (BRAC), U.S. military forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Guard) relocated all enlisted medical education into one location at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. This entailed a massive transfer of military allied health education personnel, programs, and students from multiple locations across the country to San Antonio, building campus facilities like dorms, dining halls, and five state-of-the-art medical instructional facilities, including clinical simulation rooms. METC has 64 health training programs. About 7,000 students live and study on-site at any one time, and 21,000 students are trained annually. METC employs 1,400 faculty and staff. METC has five medical instructional facilities, the largest Department of Defense fully functioning pharmacy, and the largest Department of Defense dining facility in the world. To construct the campus, 42 new facilities were built at Fort Sam Houston, at a cost of about $880 million. By 2010, students were enrolled in initial classes and by 2011, METC was operating fully. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard enlisted members are now training to become: cardiopulmonary technicians; combat medics (Army); corpsmen (Navy); cytotechnologists; dental assistants; laboratory technicians; medical technicians (Air Force); occupational therapy technicians; orthopedic technicians; pharmacy technicians; physical therapy technicians; radiographers; respiratory technicians; surgical technologists; veterinary technicians; and many more allied health professionals Realizing that METC would provide a valuable resource for and allied health professions, TWC contacted METC officials. On April 6, 2011, METC officials traveled to Austin to meet for the first time with TWC and representatives of the seven College Credit for Heroes partner schools. Since then, College Credit for Heroes partner colleges have worked with METC officials to streamline surgical technology, registered nursing (associate degree), and emergency medical technician training, as well as to develop other streamlined associate degree programs. Source: Medical Education and Training Campus, Dr. Mitchell J. Seal 12 College Credit for Heroes

15 Barriers to Award of College Credit: Initial Analysis Overall, institutions highly value the veterans in attendance at their campuses and want to work on their behalf. As TWC began developing College Credit for Heroes, staff visited with college officials in all seven partner schools and attended statewide meetings on veterans issues. These meetings helped identify barriers to the award of credit for military education and training. TWC and its partner colleges continued to identify other barriers throughout the project. Based on those discussions, TWC analyzed a number of issues relating to translating military training and experience into college credit. As TWC worked with partner colleges to create College Credit for Heroes projects, these findings, which describe barriers to the award of college credit, helped guide decisions and recommendations for additional measures needed. Military transcript evaluation varies dramatically from college to college. Most colleges have no shortcuts or automated systems. Every transcript must be evaluated manually on an individual basis. Thus, veterans receive inconsistent awards of credit, and do not get maximum awards because the process is difficult. Evaluations are done by an assortment of college administrative offices. Evaluators may be housed in offices for veterans, registrars, student affairs, admissions, or others. Many hours of military training that a veteran has earned may not easily translate into college credit. Frequently, military training counts only toward electives credit, not core curriculum studies. The official arbiter of coursework, the American Council on Education (ACE), may recommend two credit hours where four credit hours are required for full credit. The regional accreditation guidelines for colleges and universities may limit some actions colleges have undertaken to benefit veterans and servicemembers. Central College (CTC) raised potential accreditation questions regarding the use of official CTC transcripts to award credit for military training and experience. Houston Community College will add an additional course to its five-credit hour surgical technology course in order to meet accreditation regulations (see HCC profile). Colleges are experiencing exponential growth in the number of veterans attending college. The dramatic increase in veterans at institutions is fueled by the number of servicemembers leaving the military and the generous benefits of the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. Yet, no central educational reporting or data collection is done. While colleges must certify a veteran s enrollment with the VA, some veterans do not identify themselves as such to the college. Now the Apply application, an electronic common state application for college admission, has a checkbox for veterans or servicemembers to indicate military status. Report to the legislature 13

16 The State Auditor s Office (State Auditor) report on veterans issued in 2010 was the first attempt to quantify, by institution, the number of veterans attending institutions. 20 Colleges want innovations, and improvements are beginning. Every college is seeking to find ways to address veterans academic, social, and health issues. Not every college is a Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges school. Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) affiliation means that institutions agree to recognize and use the American Council on Education (ACE) recommendations for academic credit. Colleges are not bound by ACE recommendations; they may award as many or as few credit hours as they see fit. American Council on Education The American Council on Education (ACE), a major coordinating body for higher education institutions, translates courses and examinations taken outside traditional degree programs into academic credit. In association with the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium, ACE evaluates individual military training courses and determines how they translate into credit at civilian colleges and universities. ACE has evaluated thousands of military courses in all branches of the armed forces since Sending teams of civilian collegelevel instructors to complete evaluations, ACE develops credithour recommendations and works with branches of the military to issue transcripts that document training, experience, and recommended credit hours. Service members request transcripts of their military training and experience to send to colleges when they enroll. However, not all military courses are evaluated. Evaluations depend on scheduling and available faculty. For example, College Credit for Heroes found that many allied health courses had not been evaluated for years. Central College (CTC) used ACE credit recommendations as the basis to translate military educational experiences into workforce and academic common courses and unspecified credits. The College Credit for Heroes website uses course-numbering systems, making it easier for colleges and military alike to understand the award of credit for military training. Between April 1, 2012 and June 30, 2012, of the evaluations completed at CTC under College Credit for Heroes, a service member or veteran was awarded an average of 16 courses generating 34 semester credit hours and 874 contact hours. Sources: American Council on Education and Central College 14 College Credit for Heroes

17 Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium The Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium was created in 1972 to help improve college-level education for service members. SOC encourages colleges and universities to understand and respond to the unique educational needs of service members, and advocates for the necessary flexibility they need to access and complete coursework. SOC works with the military to educate service members on selecting colleges that will evaluate military training and experience and award college credit. SOC members agree to recognize and use the American Council on Education (ACE) recommendations for academic credit. However, SOC members are not mandated to accept all course recommendations for credit. About 1,900 U.S. colleges and universities providing associate, bachelor s, and advanced degrees for service members and their adult family members are SOC members. To become SOC members, colleges and universities must agree to: Reasonable transfers of credit: enable service members to prevent excessive loss of previously earned credit and to avoid coursework duplication; Reduced academic residency: limit to no more than 25 percent of degree requirements with no final year or semester in residence (may require 30 percent for undergraduate degrees offered 100 percent online); Credit for military training and experience: recognize and use the ACE Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services in evaluating and awarding academic credit for military training and experience; and Credit for nationally recognized testing programs: award credit for at least one nationally recognized testing program such as College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), DSST (subject matter) Examinations, or Excelsior College Examinations (ECE). As a requirement of College Credit for Heroes, all contracts between the seven participating colleges and TWC require membership in SOC. Source: Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium Report to the legislature 15

18 Statutes Regarding Credit for Military Service Two primary statutes govern award of credit for military service. Education Code outlines what institutions of higher education should consider in awarding credit toward degree plans. Award of credit is not mandated. For the first three months of operation, the average veteran or servicemember requesting evaluations from the College Credit for Heroes website has earned 17 credit hours of electives, out of a total of 34 semester hours. 21 Education Code requires institutions to award credit for physical education courses, generally two credit hours, but (b) places a limit (12 semester hours) on the number of credits that may be awarded for elective courses outside a student s major or minor. Education Code (c) provides that the section does not prohibit an institution of higher education from awarding additional course credit for a student s military service as the institution considers appropriate. With the enactment of these statutes, began to award credit for military service, a notable step for veterans and servicemembers returning to college to begin or continue their education. However, under (b), the limit of 12 hours on elective courses may need to be examined because it is not clear whether (c) would allow institutions of higher education to award credit from electives in excess of 12 hours. For the first three months of operation, the average veteran or service member requesting evaluations from the College Credit for Heroes website has earned 17 credit hours of electives, out of a total of 34 semester hours. 21 Education Code (b) may prevent veterans or servicemembers from fully gaining elective credit awarded under College Credit for Heroes. While the number of elective credits may fluctuate as other veterans and servicemembers request evaluations, the Legislature, institutions of higher learning, and THECB may wish to reexamine policies that led to the establishment of the 12-hour limit to determine if changes should be made to further encourage colleges and universities to adopt consistent, uniform policies on the award of credit. In today s world of marketing, many commercial enterprises eagerly attract institutions to participate in military-friendly or veteran-friendly surveys. Often, standards of what constitutes being veteran-friendly may not be readily apparent. The veteran-friendly label may be entirely true for some institutions, but may mislead veterans or servicemembers as to what works best for them. The Legislature may want to examine definitions of being veteran-friendly for 16 College Credit for Heroes

19 institutions of higher education to give veterans a consistent, clear message of what they can expect of institutions of higher learning. At one end of the spectrum, veteran-friendly institutions could be those that obtain and maintain SOC membership. Alternatively, a more detailed College Credit for Heroes Military-Friendly designation could be designed for institutions that: obtain and maintain SOC membership; agree to allow military students to use the College Credit for Heroes website; accept all credit evaluated by CTC applicable to a student s degree plan and electives; develop articulation agreements or memoranda of understanding; develop streamlined courses for veterans and servicemembers; utilize at least five or more College Credit for Heroes best practices; and enter into a memorandum of understanding with THECB. Report to the legislature 17

20 Introduction to College Credit for Heroes Project Summaries As TWC and the seven partner colleges worked together, each project was especially designed to address one or more of the barriers to the award of credit. Three projects have system-wide impact and four address allied health issues. Each project was designed to: maximize the award of credit; ensure that each veteran or service member received an equal amount of credit for similar experience and training; eliminate obstacles at state or national licensing, certification, or accreditation entities; and help veterans move quickly from classroom to the civilian workforce. CENTRAL TEXAS COLLEGE College Credit for Heroes: Online Military Training Evaluation System Central College (CTC) developed a web-based application and database for veterans and servicemembers to get college credit hours with an evaluation and official transcript that can be used at all colleges ( Pending resolution of questions on accreditation guidelines, CTC will issue official evaluations of experience and training. These evaluations include translating ACE recommendations into the common course-numbering system for credits and entering the credits electronically into CTC s Student Information System. Fiscal Impact: Savings to state and federal governments will occur as other colleges accept the workforce, academic, and elective credit evaluated by CTC. Estimated average cost savings per student of $2,089 by awarding credit to a veteran or service member for military experience and training based on the first quarter of operations of CTC evaluations Outcomes Average of 34 semester credit hours evaluated for a veteran or service member in first quarter of operations Half of the 34 credit hours count as workforce or academic classes, and the other half of the credit hours count as open electives or electives in a student s area of study 18 College Credit for Heroes

21 From April to October 2012: 12,256 hits on website with nearly 7,650 unique visitors 1,260 accounts established 582 requests for evaluations of credit 528 military courses evaluated 340 military occupations evaluated Project Summary CTC s project was twofold. The first phase was to develop and implement the College Credit for Heroes system, an online, user-friendly tool designed to evaluate military experience, The second phase was to evaluate the military education and experience of veterans and active military, culminating in credits on an official transcript. Currently, CTC will issue official evaluations. Veterans and servicemembers can use the evaluations and transcripts, if issued, to pursue further education or for credentialing or licensing purposes when applying for employment, as well as for advancement purposes while still in the service. CTC is required to sustain the College Credit for Heroes online unofficial credit information for five years. Individuals create accounts to view searchable databases, which display college credits that can be awarded for military occupations, military and Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) courses, and examinations. Anyone can register as a guest. Only veterans and servicemembers living in, intending to relocate to within 120 days, or who are residents may establish an official account. CTC s web-based application serves as a model for other states and will assist thousands of veterans and servicemembers. In the initial months of the program, veterans and servicemembers received an average of 34 credit hours in workforce, academic, and elective credits, the equivalent of approximately one year of college. CTC is in the process of developing articulation agreements or memoranda of understanding with colleges and universities across the state. CTC will continue to report on website usage, evaluations of military experience and training, accreditation questions, and estimated savings. Report to the legislature 19

22 LONE STAR COLLEGE SYSTEM Inter-College Council on Veterans and Best Practices Lone Star College System (LSCS) convened and organized the Inter-College Council on Veterans (Council) and hosted the Veterans Excellence Conference, in August 2012, where Council members presented findings from each College Credit for Heroes project. In addition, LSCS supported, tested, and evaluated the College Credit for Heroes website to ensure the appropriate functioning and award of college credit for veterans and servicemembers. Outcomes Convened the Inter-College Council on Veterans for members to share information and collaborate on issues Identified barriers, challenges, and gaps for veterans and servicemembers in receiving college credit Identified best practices and models that can be replicated by other colleges and universities Convened the Veterans Excellence Conference with 33 colleges and universities in attendance (see Appendix 5 for a list of attendees) Executed memoranda of agreement with seven partner colleges Project Summary LSCS coordinated the formation of the Council to study and make recommendations on streamlining the awarding of college credits for military training and educational experience. The Council is composed of representatives from each of the participating seven colleges. Representatives from TWC, METC, THECB, and the Veterans Commission also participated. LSCS conducted surveys and gathered information to develop a best practices report and convened the Veterans Excellence Conference. LSCS also coordinated the technology evaluation of the College Credit for Heroes online system developed by CTC, including the feasibility and use of the system. For the academic evaluation, LSCS used subject matter experts to examine the credits awarded on transcripts. LSCS plans to continue to work with the other six partner colleges, as well as work with CTC to sign an articulation agreement to accept credits recommended through the College Credit for Heroes website and evaluations. LSCS s participation provided extremely valuable methods so that all partner colleges could communicate, exchange information, and resolve issues as College Credit for Heroes progressed. 20 College Credit for Heroes

23 Lee COLLEGE Model Program for Individual Education Plan for Veterans Lee College developed an Individual Education Plan (IEP) to identify, develop, and support methods to maximize college credit for veterans and servicemembers using prior-learning assessment and credit by examination. Lee College serves as a model for small- to medium-size colleges in assisting veterans and servicemembers. Outcomes Increased veterans enrollment at Lee College by 9 percent Gave priority registration to veterans and servicemembers Had 61 student veterans complete an IEP Tutored for veterans and servicemembers to assist in class and degree completion Developed an English Composition 1 course with a portfolio development component in order to award additional academic credit for military training and experience Began development of a Manufacturing Skills Standards Certification (MSSC) program with a hands-on component Project Summary Lee College developed the IEP to identify, develop, and support methods to maximize college credit for veterans and servicemembers using prior-learning assessment and credit by examination. Beyond the scope of the project, the college created a veterans student center on campus and hired its first veterans student advisor. Services available to veterans and servicemembers now include: instruction and assistance on how to navigate the Lee College system in coordination with VA benefits; instruction and assistance on financial aid for the purposes of college attendance and course credit; and individualized mentoring services including tutoring, financial aid, VA benefits, and registration. Lee College worked with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) to incorporate prior-learning assessment into the college s own curricula so that veterans and servicemembers can obtain additional college credit. Faculty and staff received CAEL training in prior-learning assessment. Recognizing the benefits and service to veterans, Lee College will keep the veterans student center open and hire two full-time veteran s advisors, and will continue to work with the other six partner colleges to expand the scope of services such as articulation and transferability of credits. Report to the legislature 21

24 HOUSTON COMMUNITY COLLEGE System Accelerated Alternate Delivery Surgical Technology Certificate Houston Community College s (HCC)-Coleman College for Health Sciences developed and implemented an accelerated alternate delivery surgical technology certificate program for veterans and servicemembers who were trained as surgical technologists, but who were originally barred from taking the national Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam. Two distance education courses, SRGT 1405 Introduction to Surgical Technology and SRGT 2130 Professional Readiness, delivered over eight weeks, prepared students to take the CST exam. A one-semester hour preparation course was developed to help students sharpen their exam skills, and some students may take only the refresher course. Fiscal Impact: Estimated $3,109, or 82 percent, savings per student, by reducing the time required from 37 semester hours to five semester hours Outcomes Changed national rules to allow military-trained surgical technologists trained in unaccredited military programs to sit for certification exams Enrolled eight participants in the five-semester hour accelerated National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) CST Exam Preparation program Enrolled 28 participants in the one-semester hour Professional Readiness course (includes those previously enrolled in the NBSTSA CST Exam Preparation program) Expect 23 participants to take the NBSTSA CST Exam so they can practice as certified surgical technologists in Project Summary The Accelerated Alternate Delivery Surgical Technology Certificate Program was developed because many military-trained surgical technologists were not eligible to take the national CST exam. In 2000, some military programs dropped national accreditation, and NBSTSA rules barred surgical technologists trained in unaccredited programs from taking the CST exam. In, surgical technologists were required to obtain national certification with the passage of House Bill 643 in Although this legislation exempts those who have completed a military training program for surgical technology, health care employers have adopted a culture of only hiring surgical technologists who hold CST certificates. Veterans and active duty surgical technologists who practiced in operating rooms daily, often with years of experience, faced unemployment because their employers wanted only certified surgical technologists. 22 College Credit for Heroes

25 When TWC approached HCC about College Credit for Heroes in 2010, HCC-Coleman College faculty began discussions with the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) and NBSTSA to determine if the accelerated alternate program would meet national standards. These discussions influenced national policy changes. Effective January 2012, NBSTSA revised its eligibility criteria and allowed military-trained surgical technologists who were ineligible after March 1, 2000, to sit for the CST exam. As a result, HCC, working with TWC, redesigned its program so that military-trained surgical technologists could ensure their skills and knowledge met national exam standards. However, in order to meet the residency requirement of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS), HCC will add an additional course to the fivecredit hour course for future students. SACS accreditation standards require that a minimum of 25 percent of credits be taken in residence at the institution that awards the degree. 22 Today, surgical technologists who are veterans and servicemembers, and who completed one of HCC s accelerated courses, are waiting to take the national exam and continue to practice in military, private, and public hospitals across the state. HCC continues to outreach to veterans and servicemembers who can benefit from the program. Report to the legislature 23

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