Most states have come up with their own responses to increased calls for institutional accountability. We have begun compiling this information for you and will continue to work toward having information about more state plans over the next several months.
Each state has its own unique set of circumstances that drive accountability policy. You'll find that some states' accountability plans are highly decentralized, leaving it to individual institutions to design their own accountability systems (see New York for an example). Others are driven at the state level, such as Texas.
Please bear in mind that this information is intended to provide a general landscape of the accountability movement for each state and is not an endorsement by the AFT of any plan or initiative. Furthermore, we ask that if you have feedback on your state's accountability plan, please email us to let us know!
Click on a state below to begin:
This information is intended to provide a general landscape of the accountability movement in California – it is not an endorsement of any plan, nor does it speak to union activities or institutional perspectives on the subject.
California's massive higher education system is overseen and coordinated by the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) and consists of three different systems with three distinct missions. The University of California (UC) system consists of 10 different institutions (as well as three laboratories and five medical centers) that serve over 200,000 students. The UC System conducts most of the academic research in the state and grants most of the professional and doctorate degrees. The California State University (CSU) system is the largest four-year higher education system in the United States, made up of 23 campuses and serves over 450,000 students. The CSU System is the main source for teacher education in the state, and also produces a high number of master's degrees. Finally, the California Community Colleges (CCC) system is the largest higher education system in the world, consisting of 111 institutions in 71 districts, serving over 2.5 million students. The CCC must admit all high school graduates and is tasked with career training, providing certificate programs and adult education, and preparing its graduates to enter four-year institutions.
The state of California's three public higher education systems all have distinct governance structures and have developed accountability plans that are specific to each systems mission. All three systems report information on a system-wide and campus-by-campus basis, and breakdown the data according to student demographics (race/ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, etc.) where applicable.
The University of California system
The UC System is a constitutionally distinct entity that is exempt from the direct control of the state Legislature and governor. In 2008, the system's Board of Regents developed an accountability framework that assesses the system's and its campuses' impact across 15 different areas and 131 different indicators. The 15 areas that are assessed in the system's accountability plan (and some of the metrics for each area) are:
- Undergraduate student success (graduation rates, retention rates, number of undergraduate degrees, and student aspirations and goals)
- Undergraduate affordability (cost of attendance, financial aid distribution, student socioeconomic status, and student debt)
- Undergraduate access (applicants, admits, enrollments, transfer applicants, student SAT scores, and high school GPAs)
- Undergraduate student profile (demographic data on undergraduates)
- Undergraduate student experience and proficiencies (evaluates student satisfaction with an institution, a range of educational experiences, and gains in thinking and writing skills, as well as proficiency in an academic field)
- Graduate and professional degree student profile (demographic data on graduate and professional students, time to degree for graduate degrees, degrees awarded, debt of students graduating with graduate and professional degrees, student stipends)
- Faculty (demographic data on full-time "ladder-rank" faculty, faculty salaries, student-faculty ratios, and faculty awards)
- Staff profile (demographic data on university staff, breakdown of staff by personnel program and union representation)
- Research (expenditures, patents, active licenses, and licensing income)
- Libraries (rankings, library holdings, use of inter-library loan program, electronic journal usage, and student participation in library classes, tours, and presentations)
- Campus rankings (how UC campuses rank in a variety of national rankings, including the National Research Council's ratings of doctoral programs, U.S. News & World Report college rankings, and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Rankings of World Universities, among others)
- Budget, finance, and development (revenues, expenditures [total and per student], endowment statistics, and private support)
- Capital resources and sustainability (space and facilities, capital expenditures, greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, green buildings, and waste management information)
- Health sciences and services (hospital inpatient days, outpatient days, and patient complexity)
- Educational extension (number of and registrations in continuing education programs)
The UC System reports on these indicators annually, with the first comprehensive report being released in 2009.
The California State University system
In 1998, the CSU Board of Trustees released the Cornerstones Report which laid out the framework that the system and its campuses use to assess performance. The CSU System reports on these performance indicators each biennium. The CSU accountability framework assesses the system and its campuses across nine different areas:
- Quality of baccalaureate programs (relies on narrative reports on establishing and assessing student learning outcomes in general education and in specific fields, as well as summaries of ongoing reviews of academic programs)
- Access to CSU (information on enrollment for first-time students and California Community Colleges transfers, as well as information on those applicants who were not accepted and those who were not accepted to their first choice, but enrolled in another CSU institution)
- Progression to degree (continuation rates for first-time and transfer students, number of upper-division credits completed by freshman and transfer enrollees)
- Persistence and graduation (graduation rates for those graduating from their original campus of enrollment and from any CSU campus)
- Areas of special state need (CSU is still developing indicators for this area, which will assess the impact of the system on K-12 education and health services)
- Relations with K-12 (percentage of first-time freshman who are fully prepared at enrollment in mathematics and English)
- Completed remediation (percentage of first-time freshman who require remediation in mathematics and/or English at the time of enrollment and who complete remedial courses in one year)
- Facilities utilization (annualized FTEs served during specific time periods [i.e. evenings, weekends, etc.], distance learning, off-site courses, overall instruction, overall non-traditional instruction, number of CPEC approved off-campus centers)
- University advancement (charitable gifts, alumni participation, individual private donors, and private gift commitments)
The California Community Colleges system
The CCC system performance measures were developed in response to Assembly Bill 1417, passed in 2004. The CCC system assesses performance on both system-wide and campus-level indicators. The system-wide accountability report measures performance in the categories of student progress and achievement (degree/certificate/transfer), student progress and achievement (vocational/occupational/workforce development), precollegiate improvement (basic skills and ESL), and participation rates. It uses the following seven indicators:
- Annual number and percentage of UC and CSU baccalaureates awarded to CCC transfers
- Annual number of CCC student transfers to four-year institutions
- The transfer rate to four-year institutions from the CCC system
- The annual number of degree/certificates awarded by vocational programs
- Increase in personal income as a result of receiving a vocational degree/certificate
- Annual number of basic skill improvements
- Participation rates in the CCC system, broken out by demographic variables
Individual campuses within the CCC system also report on several performance indicators, which include:
- Student progress and achievement rates (students who transferred to a four-year institution, received an AA/AS degree or certificate, received "transfer directed" status, or received "transfer prepared" status)
- Percentage of students who earned at least 30 units
- Persistence rate (first-time enrollees with at least six units in a fall term who enrolled the subsequent fall term)
- Annual successful course completion rate for credit vocational courses
- Annual successful course completion rate for credit basic skills courses
- Improvement rates for credit ESL courses
- Improvement rates for credit basic skills courses
- Enhanced noncredit progress and achievement rates
- College profile summaries (number of enrollments, broken out across several demographic variables)
- Summary of the college's peer groups for each indicator
The CCC system filled its first ARCC (Accountability Reporting for Community Colleges) document in 2007 and files the ARCC annually.
Student Learning Outcomes
The University of California tracks the percentage of students who leave the system in academic difficulty, as well as reporting on a biennial student survey of self-assessed gains in analytic, critical thinking, and writing skills. As mentioned above, the CSU system tracks students who require remediation upon entrance and complete remedial courses within one year.
The California Community Colleges system began experimenting with performance-based funding in 1998 under the Partnership for Excellence Program, where campuses could voluntarily provide data on student outcomes in exchange for increased funding. The CCC board of governors had the option to tie funding explicitly to performance under this program, but declined to do so. The PFE program expired in 2005, and California has not used performance-based funding since then.
University of California Accountability Framework – Draft for Discussion, September 2008, available here
University of California Accountability Reports, available here.
The CSU Accountability Process, available here.
The CSU Accountability Process Background – Cornerstones, available here.
Performance Areas and Indicators – Under Cornerstones, available here.
California State University Accountability Process – Fourth Biennial Report, 2006, available here.
Focus on Results – Accountability Reporting for the California Community Colleges, 2009, available here.
Education Sector, California report card, related materials. From "Ready to Assemble: Grading State Higher Education Accountability Systems," available here.
This information is intended to provide a general landscape of the accountability movement in Florida – it is not an endorsement of any plan, nor does it speak to union activities or institutional perspectives on this subject.
The public higher education system in Florida is one of the largest in the country. The State University System, which oversees Florida's 10 public universities, currently enrolls 300,000 students, while the Florida College System (a part of the Florida Department of Education), which oversees 28 community colleges and baccalaureate institutions, enrolls more than 800,000. Florida is also the home to two of the 10 largest campus student bodies in the United States – Miami-Dade College and the University of Florida.
Both of Florida's higher education systems track information on a wide variety of metrics on a system-wide basis. Institutions report their information to their respective systems governing bodies, who in turn compile and make the information available to the public. The information is presented both as a system total and by institution.
State University System
The Board of Governors for the State University System outlined their accountability plan in their 2005-2013 Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan outlined seven accountability areas for the entire system as well as required universities to report progress on goals that were specific to their individual institution's missions (which are listed in that document). The seven system-wide accountability measures include:
- graduation rates (for first-time-in-college students and transfers)
- degree production (bachelor's, master's, professional degrees, and doctorates)
- meeting statewide professional and workforce needs (which tracks degree production in education and the health professions, as well as programs that contribute to the state's economic development)
- number and percentage of students from underserved populations who complete a baccalaureate program
- pass rates on selected licensure/certification programs
- academic learning compacts (every baccalaureate program must identify what content knowledge and skills students will acquire while seeking those degrees)
- building world-class research capacity and nationally recognized programs (which tracks research funding, patent production, and similar information) (Appendix 1).
Additionally, in 2006, the Board of Governors released the "Report on State University System of Florida Accountability Measures Referenced in General Appropriations Act Implementing Bill," which contained system-wide information gathered on 27 metrics requested by the state's Legislature. The report includes the aforementioned metrics, as well as data on recent graduates income five years post-graduation, information on graduates enrolling in graduate school after earning a baccalaureate, percentage of out-of-state students, the total "instructional effort" provided by faculty in lower- and upper-level courses, percentage of Florida students entering as first-time-in-college enrollees, the average number of articles per ranked faculty member in the Institute for Scientific Information publication count, and measures of public service (5-6).
Florida College System (FCS)
The Florida Department of Education releases an annual Fact Book on the Florida College System that reports a wide variety of data on both a system-wide and institutional basis. It reports on the number of student and program enrollments (broken out by gender and ethnicity, as well as students with disabilities), credit program completion rates, employee information, financial information, and a report on baccalaureate programs at colleges that provide them within the FCS.
Additionally, the system tracks and reports on the success of minority students in remedial classes on a system-wide basis. Data is also kept by the system on study abroad programs and adult education (both program completions and student goal obtainment).
Student Learning Outcomes
The state of Florida requires that students pass or be exempted from the College-Learning Academic Skills Test, although they do not report data from the tests.
While Florida first implemented performance budgeting in 1994, the state's higher education funding mechanism allocates funds exclusively on the basis of enrollment.
Florida Department of Education Fact Book for the Florida College System – 2010, available here.
The Florida College System: Assuring Postsecondary Access That Supports Florida's Future, available here.
2007 Accountability Report, Board of Governors, State University System of Florida, available here.
Report on State University System of Florida Accountability Measures Referenced in General Appropriations Act Implementing Bill, available here.
Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida Strategic Plan 2005-2013, available here.
Education Sector, Florida report card, related materials. From "Ready to Assemble: Grading State Higher Education Accountability Systems," available here.
This information is intended to provide a general landscape of the accountability movement in Illinois—it is not an endorsement of any plan, nor does it speak to union activities or institutional perspectives on this subject.
The state of Illinois' university system consists of nine public universities on 12 campuses, 48 community colleges, 97 independent not-for-profit colleges and universities, 35 independent for-profit institutions and 22 out-of-state institutions. According to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, enrollments in these institutions have seen an overall increase—4.9 percent—in fall 2008 to 854,660 as compared with the previous autumn, continuing a pattern of stable enrollments in Illinois colleges and universities since the mid-1990s.
Established in 1961, the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) has long held responsibility for coordinating accountability and assessment statistics in the state. Accountability systems are developed and coordinated at the institutional level in response to IBHE's document, "A Public Agenda for College and Career Success," which outlines four primary goals with recommendations for each.
Goal 1: Increase education attainment to match best-performing states.
Recommendations to achieve this goal include aligning the PreK-20 curriculum , expanding opportunities for adult learners, and strengthening college readiness programs.
Goal 2: Ensure college affordability for students, families, and taxpayers.
Recommendations to achieve this goal include making Illinois one of the five most affordable states to get a college education; reviewing state financial aid programs for low-income students to ensure that the programs are effective, efficient, widely understood, and aligned with all Public Agenda goals; and finding institutional operating efficiencies that reduce costs while expanding access and maintaining quality.
Goal 3: Increase the number of high-quality postsecondary credentials to meet the demands of the economy and an increasingly global society.
Recommendations to achieve this goal include using competency-based assessments, professional development, and employers as classroom mentors to improve skill levels and work readiness; strengthening accountability through national assessments with publicly reported results; and increasing the number of postsecondary degrees in fields of critical skills shortages.
Goal 4: Better integrate Illinois' educational, research, and innovation assets to meet economic needs of the state and its regions.
Recommendations to achieve this goal include developing resource pools and incentives that capitalize on state and regional strengths and address state and regional weaknesses; developing cutting-edge educational programs across the PreK-20 spectrum that will prepare students to succeed in the global economy; and removing barriers that impede the entrepreneurial spirit without jeopardizing public service, protection, and safety.
Measurement of Institutional Performance
While it is expected that individual institutions develop their accountability plans with these goals in mind, there is no evidence that they are held to these standards in any meaningful way at this time. Previous efforts to measure institutional performance were suspended in 2007; the most recent data available is from 2006.
Student Learning Outcomes
While not mandated by the IBHE, some institutions do report on learning outcomes. Northeastern Illinois University is one such institution that uses a standardized assessment of learning outcomes developed by ETS. All institutions are encouraged to report scores from either the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) or alumni surveys of engagement.
Performance funding mechanisms have not been implemented by the state of Illinois.
2006 Performance Report, available here.
A Public Agenda for College and Career Success, available here.
Education Sector, Illinois report card, related materials. From "Ready to Assemble: Grading State Higher Education Accountability Systems," available here.
This information is intended to provide a general landscape of the accountability movement in Maryland—it is not an endorsement of any plan, nor does it speak to union activities or institutional perspectives on this subject.
Maryland's public higher education system comprises 13 colleges and universities, all of which are coordinated by the Maryland Higher Education Commission, in addition to 16 community colleges, 25 private institutions, and University of Maryland University College, which is one of the nation's largest providers of online education.
During the last decade, the state university system has seen significant budget cuts; political leaders have responded by attempting to increase efficiency by way measures such as consolidating energy purchasing and centralizing back-office operations while curtailing tuition hikes.1
Accountability and assessment initiatives are coordinated at the state level. The 1988 Higher Education Reorganization Act established an accountability process for public colleges and universities in Maryland. The law requires the governing boards of these institutions to submit annual performance accountability reports to the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
Maryland has adopted a State Plan for Postsecondary Education (2004) in which goals and objectives for the state's institutions of higher education are outlined. Accountability issues and indicators are closely aligned with these goals and can be found in Maryland's Accountability Report – 2008.
Maryland's goals for its accountability reporting reflect the State Plan's aims: quality and effectiveness, access and affordability, diversity, a student-centered learning system, and economic growth and vitality. The development of statewide policies to improve the graduation rates of minority students and to recruit and retain minority faculty and professional staff have been longstanding goals of the state. Public campuses report their progress in these areas to the Maryland Higher Education Commission in their performance accountability reports and Minority Achievement Action Plans and identify specific programs and activities that they have undertaken or plan to initiate.
Maryland's public two-year and four-year postsecondary institutions are held to different requirements for accountability reporting. Community and two-year colleges use 32 standard, "mission/mandate" driven performance measures. Four-year colleges and universities follow the structure of the State's Managing for Results (MFR) program of the Department of Budget and Management, which requires each institution to develop a set of goals, objectives, and performance measures and report on their progress toward achieving these goals.
The Commission reviews accountability reports and presents them, along with its assessment and recommendations, to the governor and the General Assembly. Maryland's state-aided independent colleges and universities have submitted periodic reports on a voluntary basis, including in each of the past seven years.
Student Learning Outcomes
Under the accountability process, the institutions' governing boards are also responsible for monitoring student learning outcomes and minority achievement. Every three years the commission receives reports from the public campuses regarding their progress in these areas. The most recent Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Reports were presented to the commission in September 2007. The latest Minority Achievement Report was submitted in September 2008. Some institutions use the National Survey of Student Engagement and the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE and CSSE), some have reported results from standardized assessments like the Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress (MAAP) and the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP), and some have used local measures such as portfolio assessments, course pass rates, and student course evaluations.
In 1999 Maryland adopted a peer-based performance evaluation system that looks at diversity, graduation rates, freshmen-to-sophomore retention rates, licensure pass rates, admissions yield, research and development expenditures per full-time faculty, highly ranked graduate programs, and student loan default rates.2 This information is set up in such a way that performance funding could be adopted in the future; however it is not in place at this time.
2008 Performance Accountability Report, available here.
2008 Student Outcome and Achievement Report, available here.
Funding Guidelines Peer Performance Analysis—December 2007, available here.
Managing for Results Report for FY2009, available here.
Education Sector, Ready to Assemble: Grading State Higher Education Accountability Systems, Maryland Score Card, available here.
This information is intended to provide a general landscape of the accountability movement in New Jersey – it is not an endorsement of any plan, nor does it speak to union activities or institutional perspectives on this subject.
New Jersey has a diverse array of higher education institutions that served over 410,000 students in 2008, 80 percent of whom went to the state's public institutions. New Jersey has 19 public two-year community colleges, 4 public state colleges, 5 public comprehensive universities, 3 public research institutions, 14 independent colleges or universities with a public mission, and 18 other independent institutions (religious, theological, or proprietary).
In 1994, the New Jersey Legislature empowered the state's Commission on Higher Education to collect annual "institutional profiles" from the 31 public higher education institutions in the state (N.J.S.A. 18A:3B-35). These profiles capture the following information about the state's public colleges and universities:
Institutions must report on both the status of their institutional accreditation and accreditation from professional groups.
Number of students served:
New Jersey collects data on the raw number of undergraduates enrolled annually, the number of graduates, the number of "first-professionals" attending institutions of higher education, and the number of non-credit students enrolled.
Characteristics of undergraduate students:
Institutions are required to report an array of information about their undergraduate student populations, including the mean math, reading, and writing SAT scores (at senior public institutions), enrollment in remedial courses by subject area, the race/ethnicity, gender, and age of the undergraduate population, the number of students receiving state-funded financial assistance (both need- and merit-based), and the percentage of students who are New Jersey residents.
Degrees conferred/characteristics of graduates:
New Jersey collects data on the race/ethnicity and gender of college graduates, as well as the number of graduates in specific academic fields.
Institutions report on student outcomes in three specific areas. First, graduation rates (broken out by race/ethnicity, gender, and income) are reported in the following manner: the four-, five-, and six-year graduation rates at senior public institutions, the two- and three-year graduation rate at community colleges, and the two- and three-year combined graduation and transfer rate at community colleges. Second, institutions report the third-semester retention rates, broken out by race/ethnicity and by low-income status. Finally, New Jersey's public colleges and universities report the following information on transfers: the percentage of students at senior public institutions transferring from a two-year college, the three-year transfer rate from community colleges specifically to New Jersey's senior public institutions, and the overall three-year transfer rate from community colleges.
Public institutions in New Jersey are also required to provide information about the composition of their faculty in their profiles. The information gathered includes the racial/ethnic and gender composition of the full-time faculty, as well as their tenure status. Institutions also report the percentage of classes taught by full-time faculty and their ratio of full- to part-time faculty.
Characteristics of trustees/governors:
The Commission on Higher Education also collects data on the governing bodies for the state's public higher education institutions. This data includes the race/ethnicity and gender of the institutions' governing boards, a list of trustees with their titles and affiliations, and the URL of a Web site with information on the institution's governing board.
Profile of the institution:
Institutions report on the degree and certificate programs they provide, as well as any other information that the institution sees fit to submit.
The Commission on Higher Education also collects data on an institution's major research and public service activities, as well as on their major capital projects underway in a given fiscal year. Institutions may also submit any other pertinent information they feel is appropriate for their profile.
The New Jersey Commission on Higher Education makes all of the annual institutional profiles available on their Web site. While the CHE is the primary driver for reporting requirements, institutions can and do develop institutional accountability plans that go beyond what is mandated by the state. Rutgers University, for example, provides a large array of data on faculty characteristics and student performance and indexes these figures against averages provided by other universities within the American Association of Universities.
In January 2010, the New Jersey College Student and Parent Consumer Information Act placed new requirements on the state's four-year institutions. In particular, this new law requires institutions to send out hard copies of the following information with paper application materials, as well as make it available online:
- the four- and six-year graduation rates (overall, according to demographic characteristics, by major, and for student-athletes);
- the student transfer rate;
- overview of the institutions to which former students at the college or university have transferred prior to the completion of their degree;
- cost of attendance for the current academic year, including tuition, room and board, student fees, and books and materials;
- a description of the types of financial aid available to students;
- the percent of student-athletes and the percent of non-athlete students who receive financial aid directly from the institution and the average value of that assistance;
- projected cost for a student to live on-campus or commute and complete a college degree in four years and in six years;
- average student loan indebtedness for four- and six-year graduates, either resident or commuter;
- average student loan indebtedness for students who withdraw from the institution prior to completing a degree, either resident or commuter;
- faculty ratios, including raw numbers and classes taught by each classification of instructor
- an indicator of each academic department's ability to serve the students majoring within the department's programs (as determined by CHE).
The new law also contains reporting provisions that seem consistent with the prior reporting mechanism used by CHE, although it also requires the parents or guardians of students (or the students themselves, if independent) to acknowledge receipt of the information.
Student Learning Outcomes
New Jersey does not collect any data on specific student learning outcomes.
New Jersey does not appear to use the performance data gathered in budgeting or management decisions. New Jersey experimented with performance funding in fiscal year 2000, but a survey of State Higher Education Financial Officers (SHEFO) found that the performance funding had no effect on campus performance. There has been no mention of performance funding since 2001.
New Jersey's System of Higher Education at a Glance, available here.
New Jersey Commission on Higher Education Public College & University 2008 Institutional Profiles, available here.
Form and Content – 2008 Institutional Profiles per resolution of the Commission on Higher Education, pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 18A:3B-3, available here.
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey 2008 Dashboard Indicators, available here.
Education Sector, New Jersey report card, related materials. From "Ready to Assemble: Grading State Higher Education Accountability Systems," available here.
This information is intended to provide a general landscape of the accountability movement in the state of New York—it is not an endorsement of any plan, nor does it speak to union activities or institutional perspectives on this subject.
New York has one of the oldest and largest higher education systems in the nation. Today, the State University of New York (SUNY) enrolls over 400,000 degree-seeking students at 64 campuses. The City University of New York (CUNY) enrolls 460,000 students, only about half of which are degree seeking, at 23 campuses located within the five boroughs of New York City. New York also has 150 privately run campuses that enroll another 450,000 students.
Accountability and assessment plans are, for the most part, developed at the institutional level in New York—both CUNY and SUNY have built into their master plans. Although there have been attempts to shift power from the institutional level to the state level, these efforts have not brought about that shift. The state board of regents, however, does release some data by sector.
The New York State Commission on Higher Education, a temporary body created by executive order in May 2007 to study higher education and make policy recommendations, did not come to the conclusion that rigid accountability measures at the state level are necessary. In fact, it warned that micromanagement would handicap such a large system, and recognized the ability of the CUNY and SUNY systems in particular to function with a great deal of autonomy. The commission released its accountability plan, titled "Final Report of Findings and Recommendations" in June 2008.
Over-regulation has inhibited SUNY and CUNY from seizing emergent opportunities, and has been a recurring theme for New York higher education since its earliest years. Today, SUNY and CUNY are major, mature institutions with legal, accounting, and information systems that provide the controls they need for accountability. While these institutions must be held fully accountable to meet standards and obey laws, layers of micro-management inhibit action and impede adaptation. (14)
In CUNY's master plan, they emphasize a dedication to "accountability and assessment in every aspect of the University's mission." CUNY became one of 19 inaugural participants to sign on to the Access to Success initiative, a project of the National Association of System Heads (supported by grants from Lumina Foundation for Education and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), which seeks to improve overall student success and to dramatically reduce current disparities in the college enrollment, retention, and graduation rates of low-income and underrepresented groups. The initiative promotes change in teaching and advisement practices, and focuses on improving student success at the developmental and introductory levels, especially in high enrollment courses. Participating systems collect data on retention, course success, and graduation rates. Data will be reported publicly and provide a basis for identifying effective practices. (21)
CUNY's experience with the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) has proven sufficiently instructive to warrant the University's continued participation during 2008-2012. Similarly, consultations will take place with the community colleges about the feasibility of administering system-wide NSSE's partner survey, the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) (25).
CUNY's libraries are also a part of the accountability initiative—they collaborate on how best to assess the information literacy capabilities of CUNY students. The libraries also work with major New York City employers to use the assessment results to certify that students have successfully met CUNY's information literacy goals upon graduation. (62)
CUNY also reports institutional retention and graduation rates and publishes an annual "Student Experiences" survey that reports student usage of time, by institution (Ed Sector, 132)
CUNY's "College Now" program is the largest dual enrollment program in the country, enrolling more than 30,000 high school students in postsecondary classes. A 2007 study found participating students had higher rates of success once in college. (Ed Sector, 133)
SUNY's master plan states a commitment to a culture of accountability and continuous improvement, with particular concern for student outcomes. Success should be measured in terms of excellent retention rates and timely graduation, pass rates on licensing and certification examinations, and postgraduate success in obtaining a job, transferring, and/or pursuing an advanced degree.
Successful student outcomes depend on a number of factors, including the quality of instruction, students, and faculty, and the quality and availability of student support services and co-curricular experiences. During Mission Review II (2005-2010), the University will seek to better understand the relationships between these factors and student success at each campus and facilitate sharing of best practices where appropriate. National and system-wide surveys may be particularly useful in elucidating this relationship. (38)
The most recent evaluation of assessment practices in the SUNY system was undertaken in 2001 by the New York Board of Regents. This study recommended a dramatic increase in assessment of student outcomes, despite its recognition that most institutions already had an assessment plan and considered assessment "an integral part of what they do and how they do it" (18). For a time SUNY complied with its SUNY Assessment Initiative; the requested data was compiled and documented whether each institution was meeting, approaching, or exceeding standards. However, these requirements became onerous and the initiative ultimately failed. Concerns had also been raised about using assessment results to punish or embarrass institutions and their students.
Student Learning Outcomes
As mentioned above, SUNY's assessment initiative that was launched in 2001 ultimately did not work out and was shifted to leave each individual campus to develop its own assessment practices. Both SUNY and CUNY rely on NSSE to measure student engagement.
New York does not appear to use performance data in budgeting or management decisions.
New York State Commission on Higher Education: Final Report of Findings and Recommendations, available here.
The Board of Regents: Statewide Plan for Higher Education, available here.
The Board of Regents: Assessment Practices at New York State's Colleges and Universities April 2001, available here.
CUNY 2008–12 Master Plan, available here.
SUNY Master Plan 2004–08, available here.
Education Sector, New York State report card, related materials. From "Ready To Assemble: Grading State Higher Education Accountability Systems," available here.
This information is intended to provide a general landscape of the accountability movement in Oregon – it is not an endorsement of any plan, nor does it speak to union activities or institutional perspectives on this subject.
Oregon's university system consists of seven campuses and serves over 80,000 students. The State Board of Higher Education is responsible for standards and policies and oversees the Oregon Department of Community Colleges and Workforce development, which in turn regulates the state's 17 community colleges.
The Oregon University System (OUS) has developed 30 performance targets that are linked to historical trends and current achievement data. It has set institution-specific, numeric goals that are based on the last five years of data. Every year, the OUS publishes an annual performance report detailing the progress that state institutions have made with regard to these performance targets. OUS has also developed a strategic plan through 2025 that outlines goals related to issues of minority enrollment, student success, and research and innovation all in the context of dealing with disinvestments to higher education.
The Oregon Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development tracks minority enrollment in community college compared to the state's minority population, by system totals only.
Retention and graduation
Retention and graduation rates are tracked over time and by institution, as well as total degrees awarded and degrees awarded in shortage areas, which it defines as the number of teaching endorsements earned in mathematics and science in a given year. In addition, the OUS tracks graduate success, defined as the percentage of graduates who are either employed, continuing education, or otherwise engaged in an activity of their choice.
OUS tracks the percentage of community college transfer students achieving a bachelor's degree within six years' time.
OUS conducts a biennial survey of recent graduates, tracking employment rate, the rate at which they stay in state, the Oregon counties in which they primarily work, the fields and occupations in which they are employed, whether their occupation matches the their major, and their annual salary. In addition, the OUS also measures graduate satisfaction with the availability of library resources, access to computing services, overall quality of instruction, accessibility of the faculty, availability of courses, academic advising, and academic support services.
To track student engagement, OUS uses the graduate surveys to measure whether students participated in a senior project, completed an internship or externship, worked on a community service learning project, conducted fieldwork, did a practicum, undertook research with a faculty member, completed a student teaching experience, or enrolled in a cooperative education program.
OUS tracks the ratio of full-time to part-time faculty and the student/full-time faculty ratio and reports faculty diversity by gender and age.
Student Learning Outcomes
Oregon does not publish any information on student learning outcomes, nor appears to hold faculty or institutions responsible for student learning outcomes.
While OUS has developed an extensive performance measurement system, there is no evidence that funding levels are currently tied to progress made – or not made – toward these performance goals. During the early part of the decade efforts were made to tie funding levels with performance, but this was thrown out of the 2003-05 Governor's Budget recommendation.
Education Sector, Oregon report card, related materials. From "Ready to Assemble: Grading State Higher Education Accountability Systems," available here.
This information is intended to provide a general landscape of the accountability movement in the State of Pennsylvania – it is not an endorsement of any plan, nor does it speak to union activities or institutional perspectives on this subject.
Pennsylvania has a large and diverse higher education sector that is coordinated by the State Department of Education through the Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education (OPHE). The state's higher education system is divided into three distinct entities. Pennsylvania's community colleges – 14 institutions with 21 campuses – serve around 130,000 students and are overseen by the Department of Education. The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is responsible for the state's 14 public four-year institutions which enroll over 112,000 students. Finally, there are four "state-related," quasi-public institutions serving more than 155,000 students: Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University, and Lincoln University. These institutions receive state support, but are not state-owned and operate independently.
Information on accountability reporting comes primarily from the State Department of Education and from PASSHE. For the purposes of this summary, the information gathered from these two entities will be presented separately.
Pennsylvania State Department of Higher Education
The State Department of Education reports on a broad array of information presented from all of the state's public and quasi-public institutions, and reports further, more detailed information from the community colleges. Information that the Department of Education tracks includes:
- Retention rates of students who return to their institution after one year, broken out by race/ethnicity, gender, age, and financial need
- Enrollment figures in community colleges
- Progress in remediation at community colleges, including the number of students who receive remediation and the number receiving remediation that return to college the following semester
- The number of community college students taking and passing licensure tests in nursing, dental hygiene, and physical therapy, broken out by demographic variables
- Faculty information at community colleges, including demographic composition and information on class sizes
- Student enrollment information broken out by demographic variables (including state county, U.S. state, and enrollment status) for the entire system
- The number of degrees awarded by field and institution, and reports on the degrees awarded in mathematics, science, computer fields, and engineering as a system total
- The number of job training programs offered
- The number of businesses and organizations served by each state community college
Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
In addition to the information it reports to the State Department of Education, PASSHE also collects a significant amount of information on its 14 institutions that includes:
- Retention and graduation rates by institution, as well as a comparison to a peer group average at comparable institutions
- A biennial survey of alumni one-year post-graduation that gathers data on transfers, satisfaction with several aspects of alumni's college experience, employment (in their field of study or in another field), whether or not they are continuing their education, current salary, and on loans
- The number of financial awards, revenues brought in by these awards, and the average award by source (federal, state, private) as a state total
- The percentage of non-traditional undergraduates at each institution
PASSHE also collects qualitative narrative data on their System Accountability Plan, tracking progress on the goals set forward in their strategic plan.
Pennsylvania's four "state-related" institutions do not seem to have any systematic accountability reporting requirements governing them, although the state's General Assembly does report on student/faculty ratios, changes in average class size, and faculty diversity by gender.
Student Learning Outcomes
The PASSHE strategic planning document does make reference to evaluating student success in general education, but there does not seem to be any systematic gathering of information on student learning outcomes.
PASSHE's Board of Governors approved its Performance Funding Program in October 2002 – it should be noted that this decision was not prompted by any sort of legislative or executive mandate. Funds are allocated based on whether or not an institution exceeds, meets, or falls short of baseline measurements, external comparisons, and system-wide performance benchmarks on eight different performance indicators:
- Degrees awarded (number of bachelor's, bachelor's degree to enrollment ratio, number of master's)
- Second-year persistence rates (both overall and broken out for African-American and Hispanic students)
- Graduation rates (four- and six-year graduation rates, both overall and broken out for African-American and Hispanic students)
- Faculty productivity (total credits per FTE instructional faculty)
- Employee diversity (number and percentage of faculty who are minorities)
- Personnel ratio (total personnel compensation as a percentage of total expenditures and transfers)
- Instructional cost (master's cost per FTE student and undergraduate cost per FTE student)
- Faculty terminal degrees (percent of full-time tenured or tenure-track instructional faculty)
Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education, Pennsylvania State Department of Education Web site, available here.
Leading the Way – The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education: A Plan for Strategic Directions 2004-2009, available here.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education 2007-2008 Fact Book, available here.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's Performance Funding Program 2005-2006, available here.
The Qualitative Narrative Report of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's System Accountability Plan 2005-2006, available here.
Education Sector, Pennsylvania report card, related materials. From "Ready to Assemble: Grading State Higher Education Accountability Systems," available here.
This information is intended to provide a general landscape of the accountability movement in Texas—it is not an endorsement of any plan, nor does it speak to union activities or institutional perspectives on this subject.
Texas has a large higher education network and one of the most centralized higher education governance structures in the US. Texas' higher education institutions are organized in six systems that include 32 two- and four-year general academic institutions and nine health-related institutions; four-year universities not part of a system; one state technical college system that includes four two-year institutions; and fifty community college districts, many of which have multiple campuses. In fall 2008, enrollment at these systems exceeded 1.1 million students. The University of Texas System is the largest system in the state, with over 184,000 students attending nine four-year general academic institutions and six health-related institutions. More than 109,000 students attend Texas A&M System component entities – 10 four-year and two two-year upper-division general academic institutions and one health-related institution. The Texas State University System comprises five four-year and three two-year lower-division general academic institutions attended by almost 75,000 students. More than 597,000 students attend campuses within the fifty community college districts. While 90 percent of the postsecondary population attends public institutions, still more than 150,000 students enroll in private/independent/for-profit institutions.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) was established in 1965 by the Texas Legislature to manage Texas' higher education system. The board consists of nine members, a chair and a vice-chair, appointed by the governor of Texas. Key responsibilities include developing a master plan, set institutional missions, approve academic programs, and review budget requests. THECB has developed a strong accountability plan that includes many more measures than the accountability plans of UT or Texas A&M.
In 1999, Texas decided to develop a new comprehensive higher education plan to close education gaps in Texas and between Texas and other states. With the input of seventeen advisors from the business community, former higher education governing board members, and community leaders, the THECB approved "Closing the Gaps 2015: The Texas Higher Education Plan" in October 2000. This plan sets specific institutional targets at five-year intervals including college preparedness, minority enrollment, and retention. Progress reports are published annually, documenting development toward these goals. Based on these reports the board makes recommendations to the Texas legislature.
THECB ties institutional performance with state goals. In "Closing the Gaps," THECB gave institutions until June 30, 2001 to establish targets specific to their institution. Institutions may change their targets throughout the life of the plan, ideally as goals are achieved. An institution may also choose not to pursue a particular target, and there are goals that may not apply to all institutions.
The four overarching goals of "Closing the Gaps" are: Participation, Success, Excellence, and Research.
Participation: By 2015, close gaps in participation rates across Texas to add 500,000 more students by way of increasing college preparedness and affordability.
Success: By 2015, increase by 50 percent the number of degrees, certificates and other identifiable student successes from high quality programs by way of recruiting and retaining students that reflect the population of Texas (a minority majority state), easing the transfer between two- and four-year colleges, and focusing efforts on critical need fields such as nursing.
Excellence: By 2015, substantially increase the number of nationally recognized programs or services at colleges and universities by way of each institution to identifying one or more programs to improve to the level of nationally recognized excellence, and develop a strategic plan to do so.
Research: By 2015, increase the level of federal science and engineering research funding to Texas institutions by 50 percent to $1.3 billion by way of establishing competitive grant programs to expand research capacity, among other strategies.
THECB publishes individual performance reports for each Texas institution on their interactive Web site, Texas Higher Education Accountability System. In the reports, they compare institutional performance on the goals outlined in "Closing the Gaps."
In 2009, the 81st Texas Legislature considered several bills that were deemed to increase "transparency" in public higher education. Three of these – HB 2504, SB 174, and SB 1764 – require colleges and universities to post on the Internet certain information about faculty, courses, student progress, and the cost of attending the institution.
SB 1764 requires the THECB to adopt standards to ensure that uniform and readily understandable information about the cost of attending each public institution of higher education is available to the public.
SB 174 requires the THECB to develop and maintain two online "resumes" for each public institution of higher education. One resume is intended primarily for use by legislators and other policy makers, the other for prospective students and their parents. These resumes will identify, for each college and university, in-state and out-of-state peer institutions and provide a variety of measures comparing each college and university with its peers. The required measures include information relating to enrollment, admissions, instruction, degrees awarded, costs, financial aid, student success, and funding.
HB 2504 requires each public institution of higher education (other than medical and dental schools) to make available to the public on its Web site a course syllabus, a curriculum vitae of each regular instructor, and a departmental budget report for each undergraduate classroom course offered. These institutions are also required to conduct evaluations of faculty by their students and to develop a plan to make the evaluations available on their Web sites. The bill also includes the provisions of SB 1764 that are noted above.
UT institutions use the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) to compare freshman and senior scores side-by side. They also publish expected institutional scores, average national scores, and relative performance. THECB tracks retention and graduation rates, number of credits earned, number of bachelor's degrees, and those participating in remedial education and dual enrollment. Transfer student success rates are also tracked.
UT reports institutional scores on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).
THECB tracks student/faculty ratios and average class size, faculty diversity statistics, the percentage of lower division courses taught by tenure/tenure-track faculty, and percentage of tenure/tenure-track faculty for each institution.
Texas will have performance funding in the 2010-11 biennium. Of the $178 million that will be available, $100 million will reward community colleges for degrees and certificates awarded in critical fields and transfer to four-year institutions. $78 million will be available to colleges and universities that increase their degree completion rates.
There has been a great deal of interest among some legislators and other elected officials in Texas to tie higher education funding to results such as degrees and certificates granted and credits completed and to reduce funding tied to credits attempted. Because of the nature of the majority of their students, such moves would decrease funding for community colleges—even at a time when more is being demanded of them.
Closing the Gaps: The Texas Higher Education Plan, available here.
Education Sector, Texas state report card, related materials. From "Ready to Assemble: Grading State Higher Education Accountability Systems," available here.
Higher Education Accountability System, available here.
Student Learning Assessment in Higher Education, available here.
Special thanks to Ted Melina Raab, Senior Legislative Agent, Texas AFT, for contributing to this page.
This information is intended to provide a general landscape of the accountability movement in the state of Washington – it is not an endorsement of any plan, nor does it speak to union activities or institutional perspectives on this subject.
Washington state has a diverse public higher education system that includes two major research institutions, four comprehensive four-year universities, and 34 community and technical colleges. Additionally, there are five branch campuses and 10 university "centers," and 25 private colleges or universities. In 2008, approximately 427,000 students were enrolled in institutions of higher education in Washington.
Washington's accountability efforts have been developed in response to legislation passed in 2004. House Bill 3103 directed the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) to establish an accountability monitoring and reporting system that determines how performance was measured, set targets for these measures, and gather and report data. The state's public institutions of higher education, in collaboration with the HECB created revised standards in 2006, are currently on a six-year cycle where institutions report progress on standards biennially with a six-year accountability report due in 2010-11. The HECB accountability framework also permits the state's six baccalaureate institutions to report on up to three performance measures unique to those institution's individual missions.
The HECB's 2006 document "Accountability for Student Success in Washington Higher Education" outlines six areas where the state is gathering information (using a number of different performance indicators) to assess the quality of public higher education.
In response to the high number of students who transfer from two- to four-year institutions in the state – and given that over 70 percent of students who access higher education in Washington begin in a two-year institution – the HECB gathers information on two-to-four-year institution transfers using three different measures: 1) the number of students who complete at least 45 credits of core coursework with a GPA of 2.0 or higher, 2) the percentage of students (who indicated an educational goal of a bachelor's degree) transferring from a two- to a four-year institution within three years, and 3) the percentage of students earning a bachelor's degree within three years of obtaining an associate degree (2-4).
Washington's strategic plan for higher education calls for increasing the number of associate degrees awarded annually to 27,000 and the number of bachelor's degrees awarded annually to 30,000 by 2010. By assessing the number of degrees awarded, the HECB hopes to capture information on completion, positing that degree completion is a proxy for student success. The accountability plan also gathers data on students completing bachelor's degrees in "high demand" fields, such as engineering, computer science, and healthcare professions, as well as graduate and professional degrees (5-8).
Workforce and basic skills
The HECB uses measures developed by the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges to assess workforce preparation, and they gather data on the number of Community and Technical College students who completed a professional or technical degree or certificate and achieved industry skill standards. To assess basic skill competency, they count the number of students who gain at least one competency (as measured by pre- and post-program standardized tests) among the areas of reading, writing, mathematics, and English language proficiency (9).
In addition to measuring the graduation rates of community and technical college transfer students, Washington state also keeps track of the percentage of those students who enrolled as freshmen in a four-year institution and graduated within six years. Washington had traditionally kept track of five-year graduation rates, but began tracking six-year rates as a point of comparison with other states (10).
Washington state requires four-year institutions to report the percentage of freshmen enrollments who return for their sophomore year (11).
Finally, Washington state keeps track of graduation efficiency, stating that "it is important that student [sic] make rapid progress toward completing a degree," not only to maintain some sort of academic momentum, but also because it lowers the cost borne by the student and by the taxpayer. To measure graduation efficiency, the HECB collects data on the percentage of bachelor's degrees awarded to students not taking more than 125 percent of the required number of courses (12).
Washington state also tracks four-year institution accountability measures specifically for students receiving Pell Grants (which are used as a proxy measure for low-income students). There are no performance targets associated with these measures – HECB is monitoring Pell Grant recipients because they are at greater risk of not succeeding and because improving access for low-income students is a high priority in Washington. However, if there are significant gaps between Pell recipients and other students, performance targets might be reconsidered (13).
As previously stated, four-year institutions are permitted to report measures that are specific to each institutions unique educational mission. The University of Washington, for example, reports on the number of Pell Grant recipients who receive bachelor's degrees, the dollar amount of federal research grants brought in by the university, and the number of faculty awards and National Academy memberships (17-19). Washington State University reports on the proportion of degree programs achieving improvement based on an assessment of student learning, professional exam pass rates, and external support for research (20-21). Other universities track student participation in co-curricular activities (21), assessments of the learning environment and quality of instruction (22), and student community service (23), among other innovative measures.
Performance measures in the biennial budget
In response to budget provision language, HECB also gathers institution-specific data on the proportion of bachelor's degrees awarded to Pell Grant recipients, job placement and graduate school enrollments (28), the number of nationally ranked programs and research grant funding (specific to the state's two research institutions), and finally, the number of degree programs that have attained national accreditation (29).
Student learning outcomes
The use of student learning outcomes is widely varied throughout Washington. As mentioned before, data is gathered on students who gain competencies in basic skills, and at least one of the four-year institutions specifically measures student learning as part of their institutional-specific measurement reports.
According to the HECB's "Higher Education Accountability Report, 2007-08," the state's accountability regime is predicated on the assumption that the level of performance that can be reasonably expected is related to the level of available resources. However, it does not seem to link funding to performance, per se, but rather links current and proposed standards to changes in the resources made available to institutions (3-4).
Additionally, in 2006 the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges developed a Student Achievement Initiative to measure progress on indicators deemed crucial to student success and provide institutions with additional funding to implement student success strategies as they show improvement on these indicators. The four achievement measures include building toward college skills, retention rates, completing college-level math, and completion (degrees, certificates, or apprenticeship trainings). Colleges received $52,000 in seed money to implement strategies in the 2007-08 academic year and gathered data for baseline measurements, and the 2008-09 academic year was the first performance year on which additional funds would be disbursed. The SBCTC is seeking to scale up incentives over time: the first year contained a fund of $500,000 to be disbursed (an average of $15,000 per institution), the SBCTC has requested $7 million from the state for the 2009-11 biennium, while the governor has proposed $3.5 million during the biennium for this measure.
Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board: Accountability for Student Success in Washington Higher Education, January 2006, available here.
Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board: Higher Education Accountability Report, 2007-08, available here.
Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board: Key Facts about Higher Education in Washington, available here.
Education Sector, Washington state report card, related materials. From "Ready to Assemble: Grading State Higher Education Accountability Systems,"available here.