This is the first in a series of posts assessing the 82nd Regular Session, which adjourned yesterday.
Today's Special Session, at least so far, does not involve an agenda that directly includes community and technical colleges. Please consult the TCCTA Web site frequently for updates.
The national movement toward "outcomes-based" funding of higher education took a significant step forward in Texas with the passage of HB 9. (For background, please review previous posts on this subject.)
TCCTA opposed HB 9 in House and Senate committee testimony. The bill was supported by a plethora of business-oriented organizations, including the Texas Association of Business, the Governor's Business Council, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and Texans for Prosperity. Its sponsor is Rep. Dan Branch (R-Dallas), who chairs the House Committee on Higher Education. Gov. Perry made it a major priority as well.
Some of the association's concerns were addressed in the Senate version of HB 9, the text of which ended up in the final form. In general the new language is more flexible in scope than in the bill as originally filed. For instance, the final bill uses "may" instead of "must" regarding proposed key measures of student success.
The new law will likely spur abundant questions regarding its interpretation and impact.
Basically the bill sets up a regimen for recommendations to be developed by the Coordinating Board, and presented to the newly-formed Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence, and Transparency. These recommendations will be considered subsequently by the next Regular Session of the Legislature.
HB 9 does not directly affect appropriations for the forthcoming (2012-13) biennium.
The bill states that "not more than ten percent of the total amount of general revenue appropriations of base funds for undergraduate education" would be used for incentive funding. One issue to be watched carefully is whether any incentive funds are a component of base formula funding, or supplemental to it. According to testimony, either option is possible under the plan.
For two-year college educators, the heart (and principal controversy) of HB 9 involves its proposed outcomes measures. In the wording of the bill, "The success measures considered by the [Coordinating] board under this subsection may include" achievement in
- developmental education in mathematics
- developmental education in English
- the first college-level mathematics course with a grade of "C" or higher
- the first college-level English course with a grade of "C" or higher
- the first 30 semester credit hours at the institution
- transfer to a four-year college or university after successful completion of at least 15 semester credit hours at the institution
- the total number of associate's degrees and certificates
TCCTA will follow the implementation process carefully and work to achieve a result that is consistent with academic integrity.
From the "Enrolled" (final version) Fiscal Note:
Under provisions of the bill, the Higher Education Coordinating Board would incorporate the consideration of certain student success measures in its formula recommendations to the legislature.
Under provisions of the bill, the impact of the success measures would be not more than 10 percent of the total amount of general revenue appropriations of base funds for undergraduate education recommended by the Board.
The bill would require the Higher Education Coordinating Board to submit to the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence, and Transparency a written report reviewing, comparing, and highlighting national and global best practices on: (1) improving student outcomes, including student retention, graduations, and graduation rates; and (2) higher education governance, administration, and transparency no later than September 20, 2011 and subsequently no later than July 1, 2012. This provision would be absorbed within existing resources.
Here's the "Enrolled" HB 9, which was only recently made available.