Performance-Based Funding
3:21 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Measuring Student Achievement at Public Universities

Illinois' public colleges and universities are still trying to work with a new law that ties state funding to student performance. But it hasn't been easy to measure performance in way that's equally valid across the state's dozen public university campuses.

Sherman Hall at WIU
Credit Rich Egger

Here's the basic idea behind the law: If a university's budget is tied to factors such as what percentage of students actually graduate with a degree, the school has more incentive to make sure its students stay on track.

Big schools, big research schools, they hire really expensive professors, because they're the best in the field.

Illinois' program is specifically meant to reward schools that help low-income students, and those from the first generation in their family to go to college.

The problem is that Illinois' 12 major university campuses have vastly different missions.

Allan Karnes, who is on the Illinois Board of Higher Education, said one area of concern is how expensive it is to go to one school versus another.

“Big schools, big research schools, they hire really expensive professors, because they're the best in the field. Don't we want them to do that?"

Last year, Illinois set aside just one-half of one-percent of its higher-education budget for performance funding. That’s about $6 million divided among 12 campuses.

An advisory committee of the Board of Higher Education is recommending that percentage stay about the same for next fiscal year.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio.