Although performance-based funding has already been decided on by the state, university employees were given a chance to weigh in on the subject.
Faculty and staff had an opportunity to speak to one of the people most involved with the state’s new performance-based funding measures: Illinois Board of Higher Education Director G.W. Reid. Ballroom A at the Student Center was so crowded Friday that university employees had to stand as they questioned Reid on how the new funding measures will affect SIUC specifically.
When the next fiscal year begins in July, universities in Illinois will receive state funding based on numbers of enrollment, retention and graduation rates since it was signed into law in August. In 2011, a steering committee, which included Chancellor Rita Cheng and Allan Karnes, associate dean and professor in the school of accounting, formed metrics for universities to be measured on to receive performance-based funding.
Reid said the committee decided on those measures earlier this month. His visit to SIUC Friday, he said, was to receive input on how those metrics can be improved.
“It’s simply a work-in-progress that is to be made better over time,” he said.
When Reid opened the discussion to questions from the faculty and staff in attendance, attendees posed questions regarding areas such as the representation of students affected by poverty, the evaluation of performance trends over time and where the money for performance funding will come from.
Although the funding for performance measures will come out of the budget for higher education, Reid said he hopes new money will be available in the future for universities out of the elimination of loopholes in the state budget. He said if new funding sources are made available to the state, giving some of that to higher education may be a priority of the governor.
“We’re arguing that if the state is going to come out of this recession intelligently, it has to have an educated citizenry to do so,” he said. “So the best place to put your money is in higher education.”
One attendee pointed out an area where the university might be punished under performance-funding measures: extra credit hours.
An institution is rewarded for graduating a student with fewer than 144 credit hours. When a student decides to study a foreign language, study abroad or attain a dual degree, he or she might go over the credit-hour limit for rewards in performance funding.
Reid said the emphasis on performance funding is on graduation numbers but the committee would take that situation into consideration.
Kimberly Asner-Self, an associate professor in educational psychology and special education, asked about how the performance funding affects graduate students. She said for some students, the degree they’re seeking requires extra hours, and many of the students she sees are non-traditional, which could influence the funding the university receives.
Reid said he might call on her to help find answers to her questions.
“We did the best we could the first time around,” he said. “The issues you’re bringing up are many of those things that we knew were out there, but we either didn’t have data or we didn’t know how to include it into our formula.”
Lyle White, chair of the education psychology and special education department, proposed universities be rewarded on a “criterion-based achievement,” or in comparison to its own standards rather than in competition with other universities.
“The objective here is to increase the productivity of the colleges and the universities in the state,” White said.
Reid said the measures are arranged to have every college and university compete against itself, because its performance one year will be compared to its performance of the year before.
Still, White said SIUC is competing against a set pot of money.
Reid confirmed the universities would be competing for an amount of funding, with some possibly receiving more than others. He said there is a set amount of money because there isn’t much available.
He said he has formed a refinement committee to try to improve the metrics and invited Karnes to recommend an SIUC faculty member who might be interested in serving on the committee.
Reid explained the context behind performance-based funding, which he said started when Gov. Pat Quinn set his goal of 60-25, or to have 60 percent of college-age Illinoisans complete a degree or certificate by 2025.
The state is at 43 percent, Reid said.
The goal of performance-based funding, he said, was to reach the 60-25 goal and to close the achievement gap among Illinoisans.
Reid said however performance -based funding is this year, it will be restudied and many portions of it will be rewritten. He said the committee IBHE formed to study the measures has deemed this year a trial year.
“The money that would be dedicated to performance funding … would be small, so that each college and university could get involved with pursuing performance standards and not have to risk too much money to be lost,” he said.
He said this year that amount is .6 percent of the total budget, or $6 million.
In years to come, he said, the amount of money distributed to performance funding will rise, as high as 10 to 15 percent of the total budget for higher education.
“Performance funding is so dynamic, because it is cued to the resources of Illinois,” he said. “It is to be reviewed annually and refined annually. In other words, it is a work in progress.”