If it were up to the leaders at Odessa College, the proposal to base 10 percent of state funding on its performance should already be put into place.
The outcomes-based system that President Barack Obama has touted would award colleges in Texas more funding that hinges on several factors that translate to a high-performing college. Things such as enrollment, low drop-out rates, timely degree completion and critical workforce needs are some of the proposed metrics by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Don Wood, Odessa College's vice president for institutional research and effectiveness, is on a committee that's been meeting about the proposal for performance-based funding in Texas. The last Legislative session had plans to alter state funding by linking it to performance, but it failed. However, House Bill 9 passed, which asked for new plans to be submitted for the 2013 session.
"It's a very positive thing that's going on in Texas," Wood said.
He didn't want to speculate whether, by the end of the session, public higher education in Texas would use performance-based funding, but he said it's a hot topic right now.
"It would not be surprising to me that coming out of this session, we have something like a 10 percent performance-based funding model," he said.
Texas is one of a handful of states that have considered a performance-based model for higher education. Eighteen states are having formal discussions on the topic, and 11 states have performance-based funding in place, according to research published last month by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
UTPB President David Watts said he believes the concept of performance-based funding is "right on target," but he is concerned about how it might pan out for universities such as UTPB that have a vastly different student population than universities such as Texas Tech, where most graduates complete degrees in four years.
Watts said around 85 percent of UTPB students have at least one job and often have family obligations, which puts them on a different track. "Nontraditional" students are almost exclusively whom UTPB caters to and Watts is hopeful that the Legislature will listen to all sides involved.
Most colleges and universities in the United States receive state funding based on enrollment numbers, though many -- including Texas -- are now considering changing the model to be based on the number of students who complete their degrees, according to the research.
Watts says it boils down to being the student's choice to decide to stay in college or leave, especially for older students who have to consider paying for school as well as providing for a family.
"In our area of Texas, which has the lowest unemployment rate in the United States, people have many job opportunities so they might be blowing aside completing college. It's just a real opportunity," Watts said about the oilfield industry. "We're just not sure how long it will last."
Under a performance-based system, community colleges and technical schools would earn "momentum points" for the number of students annually completing each of the following: developmental education, gateway courses, college credit hour attainment, credentials awarded and transfers to a four-year institution.
Funding would be allocated to community colleges or technical schools in proportion to its share of the total momentum points statewide, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures research.
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