This morning the House Higher Education Committee held a hearing on two bills that if implemented would expand the current higher education system.
House Bill 1792 would creates the University Center of North Puget Sound. The bill assigns management and leadership of the University Center at Everett Community College to WSU to meet demands for baccalaureate and graduate degrees in Everrett, north Snohomish Island, and Skagit counties and Washington, particularly in high employer demand programs of study.
House Bill 1822 would establish the first nonprofit online university in Washington – the Western Governors University (WGU). In particular the bill expresses the intent of the state to partner with WGU to establish Western Governors University-Washington and provide enhanced access to postsecondary education for all Washington students, including dislocated workers and place bound students. Passage of this bill would result in the recognition of WGU-Washington theref as a Washington baccalaureate degree-granting institution that is self-supporting.
In addition, the bill requires the Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) recognize and endorse online, competency-based education, work to eliminate unnecessary barriers to the delivery of online, competency-based education and work with a regionally accredited not-for-profit online baccalaureate degree-granting institution of higher education to integrate its academic programs and services into state policy and strategy.The Evergreen State College did not weigh-in on either bill.
The Committee also heard House Bill 1808 which would require all public high schools, within existing resources, work toward the goal of offering a sufficient number of high school courses to give students the opportunity to earn the equivalent of one year’s worth of postsecondary credit and must inform students and their families about these opportunities.
The bill also requires actions on part of higher education. The legislation states that institutions of higher education must develop a master list of postsecondary courses that can be fulfilled by achieving an agreed-upon score on a proficiency exam or by meeting demonstrated competencies. The bill also requires the following:
Each institution must publicize its own list of qualifying courses and distribute it to the HECB and the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges in a form that the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction can distribute to school districts.
The HECB must annually publish on its website the agreed-upon list of high school courses qualifying for postsecondary credit and the exam scores and demonstrated competencies meeting postsecondary requirements.
No further action was taken on any of the bills heard by the Committee this morning.