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Thursday, January 15, 2015
Performance Funding is Here to Stay

30 states set to adopt reform

This week, a report surfaced that attempts to cast doubt on the effectiveness of performance funding and call into question the need to pursue the reform at all. Unfortunately, the researchers seem to have limited understanding of performance funding’s purpose. Also of concern is the fact that the research is narrow in its scope, flawed in its study of just one state rather than a broad range of those pursuing the reform, and premature in its sweeping statements.

In response to the report, Complete College America President Stan Jones spoke with the Chronicle of Higher Education. His comments are below:

“Performance-based funding is here to stay,” said Stan Jones. Drawing broad conclusions on one state’s experiences is a mistake, he added, especially when the amount of money at issue represents such a small proportion of the state’s higher-education budget—less than 1 percent in some years.

It’s also too early, he wrote, to judge how such programs are working, since as recently as 2009 only Indiana and Ohio had the newer version of performance-based plans that applied to all their public colleges. Tennessee followed with a plan approved in 2010 and rolled out the following year.

College-completion results will take six to eight years to measure, collect, and report, Mr. Jones said. And he said his group had never claimed that performance-based formula alone would lead to higher graduation rates. “It is a necessary condition for change to occur,” he wrote. “Performance funding gets attention and signals a focus on completion.” The reforms that follow “will produce the results that everyone is seeking.”

Chancellor John Morgan of the Tennessee Board of Regents had this to say of performance funding in his state:

Anyone who doesn’t believe [performance funding] is having the desired impact isn’t paying attention. The incentives created by the formula to focus resources on activities that promote better outcomes have been significant.

Our outcomes have improved, and these improvements have been impressive. Of course, some institutions have done better than others, but that has always been the case.

In my opinion, even 5% [allocation] caused institutions to pay attention to the criteria.  The outcome-based formula has amplified that attention to the point of obsession!  And, being obsessed with student success is not a bad thing.

posted by Blake Johnson

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