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Workforce Investments: State Strategies to Preserve Higher-Cost Career Education Programs in Community and Technical Colleges
August 2013
Addressing the challenge of financing community college career and technical education programs is the focus of a new policy brief by IHELP. This brief examines finance policies and practices in 20 states and identifies five strategies that may help preserve higher-cost CTE/workforce programs: (1) separate technical colleges or system; (2) differential funding formula that takes program costs into account; (3) performance funding that rewards completions and various workforce-related outcomes; (4) differential tuition whereby students pay more for high-cost programs; and (5) differential course fees by which students pay for costs of lab operation and maintenance, specialized equipment, and supplies. This brief is intended as a resource for education leaders and policymakers in California as they work toward realizing the vast potential of the CTE mission.

Metrics, Dollars, and Systems Change: Learning From Washington State's Student Achievement Initiative to Design Effective Postsecondary Performance Funding Policies
March 2013
This brief, jointly produced by IHELP and the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University, examines the development and implementation of the Washington State Student Achievement Initiative (SAI), a policy adopted by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges that draws on intermediate measures of student progress to reward colleges for improvements in student achievement. This brief, based on findings from a three-year evaluation, offers lessons for leaders in states looking to design performance funding policies for community colleges.  The brief offers recommendations for several design principles for an effective performance funding system including designing a useful and relevant system of performance metrics, linking performance to budgets (baseline funding rather piecemeal funding from allocated funds), and supporting college environmental conditions through more strategic communication and emphasis on institutional research to produce systemic institutional change.

Washington State Student Achievement Initiative Policy Study: Final Report
December 2012
This report, jointly produced by IHELP and the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University, analyzes the impact of the Washington State Student Achievement Initiative (SAI) on college efforts to improve student outcomes and on student outcomes. SAI, a policy adopted by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, draws on intermediate measures of student progress to reward colleges for improvements in student achievement. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this three-year evaluation includes both data analysis and extensive interviewing of faculty and staff and is intended in part to draw lessons for leaders in other states who are considering adopting performance incentive policies for community colleges. Report findings include that SAI is viewed by the colleges as one force among others pushing them to improve student success, and its intermediate milestone framework as helpful in focusing collective efforts on student progression and in publicly accounting for college performance. The funding mechanism has proved unpopular, however, as SAI funding has come from reallocated base funds rather than as additional funds as originally intended. While larger colleges earn more awards than smaller colleges, there is little evidence that colleges serving more at-risk, low-income students are penalized by the SAI awards method. Consistent with the SAI’s goals, the basic skills metric appears to have encouraged enrollment from traditionally underserved groups.

Career Opportunities: Career Technical Education and the College Completion Agenda – Part I: Structure and Funding of Career Technical Education in the California Community College
January 2012
This report is the first in a four-part series on career technical education in the California Community Colleges. The project, funded by The James Irvine Foundation, is aimed at identifying ways that state and system policy can best support California’s community colleges in operating CTE programs that meet the needs of their students and regions. In this first report, researchers describe the complex organizational structure and funding arrangements for the CTE mission and the closely related economic and workforce development mission. Researchers also offer a set of criteria, based on a literature review, that characterize an effective CTE mission and identify five key issues that will need to be addressed as efforts proceed to increase the effectiveness of CTE in the California Community Colleges. For the complete series on CTE please click here.

Dollars and Sense: Analysis of Spending and Revenue Patterns to Inform Fiscal Planning for California Higher Education
September 2011
This report uses data from the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability to analyze revenue and spending patterns across California higher education. The report compares patterns across California’s three public higher education systems (University of California, California State University and the California Community Colleges), documents changes over a seven-year period for which data are available (2002-2009), and compares California to the rest of the nation. The report documents several unique characteristics of California higher education including the largest disparity in the nation in educational expenditures per student between the research university sector and the community college sector and a very low share (one-tenth) of educational costs covered through community college tuition compared to the national average of one-third. Documented trends within California higher education include steep declines in state subsidies for UC and CSU and large tuition increases, such that students at those two segments are paying a much larger share of their educational costs, and incremental gains in degree productivity at all three segments that fall well short of state needs. Researchers conclude that policymakers’ traditional approach to fiscal planning is inadequate for today’s challenges and recommend greater transparency in spending and revenues and a more strategic and state-wide approach to financing higher education.

Concerns About Performance-based Funding and Ways that States are Addressing the Concerns
May 2011
As the nation’s colleges and universities struggle with limited budgets and demands for increased degree completion, states are once again looking at performance-based funding as a way to increase efficiency and reward institutions for access and success. This IHELP brief examines concerns that have arisen about performance-based funding and summarizes the ways that states are addressing, or could address, the concerns. This four-page brief was written by IHELP Director Nancy Shulock as part of her work with the California Community Colleges’ Student Success Task Force and is intended to inform discussions for states that are considering changes to postsecondary education funding models.

Performance Incentives to Improve Community College Completion: Learning from Washington State's Student Achievement Initiative
March 2011
A policy brief, jointly produced by IHELP and the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University, offers lessons to date about the Student Achievement Initiative (SAI), a policy adopted by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges that draws on intermediate measures of student progress to reward colleges for improvements in student achievement. The policy brief examines policy choices that Washington faced in designing and implementing SAI, the choices that leaders in other states will confront when considering adopting performance incentive policies as a means to improve student outcomes. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the three-year evaluation will include an examination of the impact of SAI on college efforts to improve student outcomes and on student outcomes. 

It Could Happen: Unleashing the Potential of California's Community Colleges to Help Students Succeed and California Thrive
February, 2008
(click here for foldout insert)
This report integrates our work over the last year on how to increase student success. It proposes a specific agenda for policy change that could lead to significant and lasting increases in student success.

Invest in Success: How Finance Policy Can Increase Student Success at California's Community Colleges
October, 2007
(click here for Executive Summary)
This report analyzes the degree to which state finance policies for the community colleges align with state priorities - such as access, completion and affordability. It concludes that there is considerable misalignment; therefore, funds are not invested as well as they might be to accomplish state goals. Alternative approaches to finance are explored, and a new approach is suggested to replace traditional (and ineffective) performance funding with "investing in success."

Buying the Right Thing: Using a Policy Audit to Align Community College Finance with State Policy Goals
April-June, 2007
This article, co-authored with Steve Boilard of the Legislative Analyst's Office, was published in the April-June 2007 issue of Planning for Higher Education (vol. 35, no. 3). It summarizes the results of a policy audit of California's finance policies for community colleges.

Rules of the Game: How State Policy Creates Barriers to Degree Completion and Impedes Student Success in the California Community Colleges
February, 2007
This report finds low completion rates among degree-seeking students and identifies several areas of state policy that inadvertently create barriers to student success. It offers general recommendations for how changes to state policy in these areas can increase student success. (See an important note about comparison of the completion rate in this report to CCC accountability measures)

Shared Solutions: A Framework for Discussing California Higher Education Finance
June, 2005
This report proposes a new framework for understanding California's challenge to finance higher education for its residents over the next decade. The report presents alternative enrollment scenarios, estimates the cost of each scenario, and analyzes the prospects of meeting the cost through (1) state appropriations, (2) student fee revenues and (3) efficiency gains.

Funding Adult Education: Does California Put the Money Where the Needs Are?
January, 2004
This report examines the investment of adult education funds across the state's 58 counties in relation to the need for adult education services in each county.

The Cal Grant Entitlement: Increasing Access to Financial Aid
May, 2002
This report describes changes made to the Cal Grant program in 2000 legislation, and analyzes reasons fewer awards than expected were granted in the first year after the changes.