Understanding the Role of
Public Policy In Improving the
Performance of Higher Education:
Insights from a State Policy Review Project
Joni E. Finney and Laura W. Perna
Presentation to
Education Writers Association
May 18, 2012
Acknowledgements
Project team:
 Joni Finney, Laura Perna, Patrick Callan
 Michael Armijo, Jamey Rorison, Awilda Rodriguez
 Scott Stimpfel, Christopher Miller
Sponsors:
 Institute for Research on Higher Education
 National Center for Public Policy & Higher Education
Funding:
 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
 Lumina Foundation
Importance of
Improving
Educational
Attainment:
International
Competitiveness
Source: Baum, S., Ma, J., & Payea, K.
(2010). Education Pays. Washington, DC:
College Board.
Importance of Improving Educational Attainment:
Growing Demand for College-Educated Workers
Source: Carnevale, A., Smith, N., & Strohl, J. (2010). Help wanted.
Washington, DC: Georgetown Center for Workforce and the Economy.
Importance of Improving Educational
Attainment: Equity and Social Justice
Percent of Adults Age 25 and Older
With At least a Bachelor's Degree
60%
50%
49.7%
40%
30.4%
30%
17.2%
20%
12.6%
10%
0%
Asians
Blacks
Hispanics
Source: Analyses of data from the American Community Survey.
Whites
Increasing Racial/Ethnic Diversity of
The U.S. Population
Source: WICHE (2008). Knocking on the college door. Boulder, CO: Author.
-5%
Massachusetts
Connecticut
New Hampshire
Colorado
North Dakota
Minnesota
New Jersey
Maryland
New York
Vermont
Virginia
Hawaii
Washington
Rhode Island
Illinois
Kansas
Nebraska
Utah
South Dakota
Iowa
California
Oregon
Wisconsin
Pennsylvania
US
Montana
Delaware
North Carolina
Maine
Florida
Alaska
Georgia
Wyoming
Michigan
Missouri
Ohio
Idaho
South Carolina
Arizona
New Mexico
Indiana
Texas
Alabama
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Nevada
Mississippi
Kentucky
Louisiana
Arkansas
West Virginia
Educational Attainment Levels & Needs
Vary Across States
55%
% Adults with College Degrees (2008)
Annual % Increase Needed to Meet 55% Goal by 2020
45%
35%
25%
15%
5%
Source: Kelly (2010)
What Do We Know about the Role of
States in Promoting
Educational Attainment?
Measuring Up – Biennial state-by-state report card
(National Center for Public Policy & Higher Education)
• Identifies performance of each state on indicators of:





Preparation
Participation
Completion
Affordability
Benefits
• Does not reveal:
• Reasons for high or low performance
• Reasons for changes in performance
Research Questions
1. What is the performance of higher education in
particular states? How has performance changed over time?
2. What is the context that informs higher education
performance in a state? How are aspects of context
changing? How does the state context influence the policy
options considered?
3. What policy levers have been used in each state?
4. What is the relationship between policy levers and
higher education performance?
Methods: Case Study Research
5 States
•
•
•
•
•
Georgia
Illinois
Washington
Texas
Maryland
Data Sources
• Quantitative data
• Reports and documents
• Interviews
Data Analysis
• Case study report for each state
• Cross-case analysis
Case Study Findings
Illinois: A story of decline
Washington: State leadership vacuum
Maryland: Much accomplished, Much at stake
Texas: Hard choices ahead
Georgia: Perpetuating disparity
www.gse.upenn.edu/irhe/srp
Emerging Conclusions Across States
Context:
Demographic, political, cultural, historical, fiscal
Structure and characteristics of higher education system
Policy
 Statewide planning and leadership
 Strategic use of available fiscal resources
 Movement of students across educational levels and
sectors
 Use of available higher education capacity
 Attention to cumulative contribution of policies to
stratification of educational opportunity and attainment
Is There a Shared Public Agenda for Higher
Education in the State?
Has the state established clear state-wide goals and
priorities for higher education?
Is there consensus among all stakeholders around the
goals and priorities?
Has the state implemented policies to achieve shared
goals and priorities?
Are there mechanisms to ensure accountability for
achieving shared statewide goals and priorities?
Are Fiscal Resources Used Strategically to
Achieve Statewide Goals for Higher Education?
Is there a mechanism for linking tuition to state
appropriations and financial aid?
Are increases in tuition linked to increases in family
income?
Are state resources used to reduce volatility in state
appropriations and tuition?
Does the state invest in need-based student aid?
Is the state working to control costs & improve efficiency of
higher education?
Is the state using funding to encourage improved
performance?
How Does the State Ensure the Successful
Movement of Students Across Education Levels
and Sectors?
Do state policies ensure that students who graduate
from high school are academically prepared for higher
education?
Do state policies ensure that students can transfer
between higher education institutions without loss of
credit?
How Is the State Using its Available
Postsecondary Education Institutions to Meet
Statewide Goals and Priorities?
What mechanisms is the state using to ensure all
state residents have higher education access?
Strategies: branch campuses, university centers, transfer policies,
applied baccalaureate degrees
What mechanisms does the state use to encourage
enrollment in particular sectors?
How are for-profit colleges and universities
considered in the state’s goals for higher education?
What Is the Cumulative Contribution of Policies
to Stratification of Educational Opportunity?
Do K12 and higher education policies ensure college
readiness?
Do financing policies ensure college affordability?
Are race and income explicit foci of state policies?
How does the state address shortfalls in student aid?
Do state policies “track” students into “workforce” and
“education” programs?
How do desegregation mandates impact enrollment and
completion for different groups?
Conclusions
 All states must do more to improve higher
education performance
 Context and structure matter
 BUT lessons can be identified across states
about the role of public policy in improving
performance
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Importance of Improving Educational Attainment