Plan Would Link Some Funds To Grad Rates
A move to reform the way Texas funds higher education is gaining traction across the state. State Rep. Dan Branch (R-Dallas), who is the chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, has proposed a bill that would tie 10% of state funding for colleges and universities to their graduation rates. "We're a big state, we don't necessarily need a one-size-fits-all, but we do need to have a little more focus on completion and have some balance in our formula," says Branch. Under current policy, most funding for colleges is based on their enrollment figures.
The main goal of the legislation, according to Branch, is to create a better-educated and more well-prepared workforce of college graduates. "Texas, in order to secure its future, has to have more educated workers," he says. "The way the world judges our workforce and its level of knowledge and skills is by looking at credentials, so to me this should draw bipartisan support, because this is essential for the future of our state." So far, the plan has the support of Texas Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Parades and the Texas Association of Business. Among schools, the idea has backing from many community colleges and the University of Texas, whose chancellor Francisco Cigarroa says he supports "outcomes-based funding for higher education." Texas A&M has had no official response to the idea, so far.
National higher education advocates are also on board with the plan. Stan Jones, president of the advocacy group Complete College America, joined Branch for this week's news conference on the bill. In particular, Jones says linking only 10% of the funding to graduation rates is important. "It's a significant step, I think I would call it a Goldilocks number...it's not too big, not too small, just right for where you need to be." According to Complete College America, Texas is one of about 25 states that have implemented or are discussing similar changes to college education funding.