"With powerful faculty organizations and a commitment to unfettered student access to public colleges, California is perhaps the least likely state to tie funding for higher education to degree completion and other metrics of student success," according to Inside Higher Ed. "Yet California's top lawmakers on Friday reached agreement on a performance-funding formula for the state's 114 community colleges, which enroll 2.1 million students."
"If the plan is enacted as part of the state's budget, as is expected, California would join about 35 other states with some form of performance funding on the books. It gives a substantial boost to supporters of using government funding levels to prod colleges to do better on student outcomes -- a group that included the Obama administration.
'This is a very substantial change,' said Larry Galizio, president and CEO of the Community College League of California. 'We're talking about literally billions of dollars at stake.'
The proposal's likely passage also is a defeat for the many critics of performance funding around the country who worry about unintended consequences such as grade inflation or gaming by colleges to increase their selectivity, and who often argue that performance formulas can be used by state legislatures as an excuse to cut funding for already cash-strapped public colleges.
Under the current approach, all of the state's roughly $6.7 billion in general funding for community colleges is based on enrollment numbers. But in an attempt to make good on the system's goals for increasing degree and certificate production, boosting transfers to the state's public universities, and curbing achievement gaps among underrepresented students, the funding formula in three years would tie 40 percent -- or almost $2.5 billion -- of state support to measures of student success and enrollment numbers of low-income students. It also would increase overall funding to $7.4 billion.
The debate over the formula, which was included in the state's budget bill, was heated. In addition to the strong opposition of faculty groups and unions, some community college leaders and lawmakers also criticized the proposal.
Yet performance funding is poised to be a reality in California, in part because it has support from a wide range of organizations that focus on the well-being of the state's large low-income and minority group populations, including the more than 15 million Latinos who comprise roughly 40 percent of its 39 million residents."
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Publication Date: 6/13/2018