Approximately, Thirty-two states use Performance Based Funding for higher education which means they have a funding formula or policy in place to allocate a portion of funding based on performance indicators such as course completion, time to degree, transfer rates, the number of degrees awarded, or the number of low-income and minority graduates. This includes such states as Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia .
Performance based funding does seem to have become dominant in our country but I am glad at least Kentucky is trying to discern what is best for our state and our residents. A concern that I have, along with some other critics, is that even though we do want accountability for our institutions, we don’t want to remove incentives for those institutions to accept at-risk students. Also, if funding is denied to schools with low graduation rates (which is a state defined metric for some) then those institutions’ ability to improve performance could be jeopardized even further. The more low-income and all students are educated, the more likely they are to be self-sufficient and save our state millions of dollars! If our higher education funding become based on “Performance”, then we must have incentives to reward schools for working with these students in productive ways that give everyone a chance to be productive citizens.
It’s unfortunate that so many of our issues to improve education end up divided upon party lines as with support for performance-based funding in Kentucky. As pointed out by Dr. Wayne D. Lewis, Jr. an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky who is now leader of the Kentucky Education Workforce Committee, this resolution has been divided on party lines with democrats being against it and republicans for it. We must look at our commonwealth where all of its citizens can count on the best being done for all students and their abilities to receive quality education and acquire -or help to create-quality employment.
I think all would agree, that more funding is needed. Nearly all states have cut funding to higher education schools since the recession with the average state spending $2026 (or 23%) less per student. Kentucky’s dropped a bit more than average spending $2524 (or 25.4%) less per student. Even though 42 states did show some increase over the past school year where twenty-six states increased funding by more than 5 percent per student (adjusted for inflation), Kentucky still spent 2.3% less per student in 2014-2015. In fact, according to the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities,“Funding cuts vary from $6 per student in Illinois to $179 in Kentucky. Five states — Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas, and West Virginia — cut funding by more than $100 per student over the past year.”