One of the most significant developments in the push to improve college graduation rates is outcomes-based funding. Tentative results are starting to come in from various states, including Texas, that have enacted such plans. For an overview of where things stand now, please have a look at this report from the Lumina Foundation, which aggregates a number of recent studies.
So far, the news appears to be positive, according to Lumina, though one can certainly question the results and methodology of individual studies.
The information included in these preliminary documents will undoubtedly be shared with Texas members of the House and Senate, as they prepare for the 2017 Regular Session. When Lumina speaks, people listen.
Most of the Texas information provided in this installment concerns the funding scheme now underway at Texas State Technical College. It's geared toward rewarding schools for producing well-paid employees.
As for Texas community colleges, we are presently under a regimen that rewards schools for advancing across various thresholds called Student Success Points. (Here is an explanatory link from the Texas Association of Community Colleges.) The current level is set at 10 percent of funding. During the last Regular Session, one proposal would have set the standard at 25 percent, but it failed to pass. The sponsor of this plan, Rep. Dan Branch (R-Dallas) did not win re-election.
It behooves all of us to pay attention to this issue. One dilemma is attempting to ascribe cause and effect to any improvement in graduation rates. Colleges are presently engaged in a multitude of strategies, and figuring out which ones are driving the statistics will be difficult.