“Performance Based Funding” Backfires Should be Rolled Back, Not Expanded
In his 2015 state budget, Governor Walker redirected 30% of Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) state funding into a “performance based” model. Under this system, colleges must show specific outcomes in seven areas, out of a possible ten, to receive any of this state funding. Colleges compete with each other for funds from this pool.
Walker had planned to make all state funding dependent on performance based criteria, but significant push back from technical college advocates limited it to 30%. Research reviews of similar programs in other states have shown that performance based funding does little good and probably backfires by undermining funding for colleges that serve more economically disadvantaged students.
In his current 2017-19 budget proposal, Walker has proposed to further reduce the flexibility of our tech colleges to choose criteria that best fit their student populations, communities and program mixes. He has proposed that each college have to show success in all 10 outcomes, not the current 7 of 10. This change would further harm many of our technical colleges since not all colleges serve the same demographics and populations.
Email your state legislator today. Tell him/her that performance based funding has limited value and should be reduced or eliminated, not expanded or made more rigid.
2013 Act 20 (the 2013-15 biennial budget), established a new funding model for WTCS by moving toward 30% of general state aid to technical colleges dependent on specific “performance measures”
The 2013 funding model established nine statutory criteria:
1) Job placement rates (% of graduates working in their field of study or # of graduates working in their field of study)
2) Degrees and certificates awarded in high demand fields (# of WTCS-recognized degrees and diplomas awarded in Top 50 “high demand fields” as updated by the WI Department of Workforce Development)
3) Programs or courses with industry-validated curriculum (# of active programs and # of programs with Phase 2 TSA Approval)
4) Transition of adult basic education students to skills training (# of ABE/ELL students who complete a post-secondary course)
5) Success rate of adults in basic education courses ((# of adults served through ABE and ELL and # of ABE students who showed educational gains)
6) Participation in dual enrollment programs (# credits earned through all types of dual enrollment)
7) Workforce training provided to businesses and individuals (# of credits earned through Employer Paid Training, Apprenticeship, Professional Development Seminars and Customized Instruction Contracts)
8) Participation in collaboration or efficiency initiatives (Total # FTEs College participation in statewide collaborations)
9) Training provided to special populations or demographic groups unique to the district (# of Pell grant, minority, veteran, incarcerated, dislocated worker and disabled students)
A tenth outcomes-based criteria was added in 2015/17:
10) Credit for prior learning (# credits awarded for experiential learning)
Currently, each technical college selects 7 of the 10 criteria on which to be judged.
Jim Zylstra, executive vice president of WTCS who oversees outcomes-based funding, has stated that two criteria that are NOT part of the performance based funding for technical colleges are 1) the number of students successfully transferring to four-year colleges, and 2) number of students who successfully complete police and firefighter training programs. This in particular hits certain colleges who exceed and excel in these two areas.
Scott Walker had wanted the Performance Based criteria to grow to 100% of the tech colleges’ funding, but there was considerable push back that anything beyond 30% would be extremely volatile and would discourage new programs from starting. What did get passed was 10% of state funding allocated via these performance based criteria in 2014-15; 20% in 2015-16; and 30% in 2016-17.
One big question is whether, after this school year, funding reverts back to 0% or 30% or some other percentage. In his state budget proposal, Walker has proposed maintaining the 30% and making the criteria more narrow and rigid, with no college choice of criteria to be used. The reconfigured criteria would be:
Performance based funding is hurting the largest technical colleges the most because past funding was based on total student population and they have lost significant dollars under this program. The largest technical colleges also have the most diverse populations attending their colleges; therefore, this program hurts people who can afford it the least. For example the number of economically disadvantaged students is 8 percent at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and almost seven times that – or 53 percent – at Milwaukee Area Technical College according to WTCS report for 2017.
Under current funding models, some increases have come in the form of short-term funding in some high employment programs, but these fast paced training models have never been successful with nontraditional students who have struggled in high school or have been out of school or the workforce for a long time. Suddenly launching them into an intensive 40 hour a week, 8 week training program nets few successes. This funding also drains money away from other programs in the college.
About the only thing we did learn from these programs was cited in the WTCS report in 2017-19 Biennial Budget Initiative on Outcome Based Funding. Success was achieved by the use of ABE/ELL instructors team teaching with occupational instructors 50% of time to achieve very high completion rates. This type of practice requires a stable and increased budget.
We need an increase in state funding for all so that we can continue to add employees to the skilled workforce, have students transition to four year colleges, and have students map out a pathway to success through pre-college and English as a Second Language (ESL) courses to program completion and jobs.
Nicholas Hillman, a UW-Madison education professor who researched the idea of performance based funding when it was proposed for the UW system has reported that a review of 12 studies showed little or no improvement in the graduation rates or number of degrees awarded in states. This seems to be another reason to advocate for less funding through the Performance based system and more through the existing WTCS state aid formula.