A team of researchers from Penn looked at the condition of higher education and came to about the same conclusion that academics usually come to when pressed to make a self-examination: Universities need more money.
“The years before 2000 saw relatively few attempts to compare states’ performance in higher education,” Joni E. Finney, Laura W. Perna and Patrick M. Callan write in their report. “The Measuring Up series of state report cards, published from 2000 to 2008, called attention to how state higher education systems stacked up against the best–‐performing states and, later, against international standards.”
“These state reports focused attention on measures of performance rather than traditional measures of higher education inputs, such as the number of books in the library, the number of faculty members with PhDs, and the institutions’ reputations and resources.”
In other words, they were grading colleges on how much money they could get and what they could do with it. The author’s footnote tells us that “Measuring Up is a biennial state‐by-‐state report card published by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education from 2000‐2008.”
“While Measuring Up informed states about their higher education performance, it didn’t identify what influenced differences in performance across states or changes over time in performance within a state,” Finney, Pema and Callan explain. “The State Review Project builds on the work of Measuring Up by showing how State policies can affect performance.”
“To better understand state performance, we used data that could be compared across states, supplemented with state‐specific data, to understand four areas of higher education performance that, together, result in a state’s higher education attainment:
“1)Preparation for postsecondary education;
“2)Participation in workforce certificate or degree programs after high school;
“3)Completion of workforce certificates and degrees; and,
Notice what comes last. Their report is entitled Renewing the Promise: State Policies to Improve Higher Education. They looked at higher education in five states—Texas, Georgia, Illinois, Washington and Maryland.
Maryland is the state that impressed them the most. “Except for Maryland, none of the five States we studied have a long‐term strategy to link state appropriations, tuition, and financial aid in ways that will help achieve higher levels of educational attainment. At the time of our study, the de-facto finance policy in most states was ‘taking it one year at a time,’ resulting in unstable funding for higher education and unpredictable tuition levels for students and families. Historically, these states, like most others, relied on funding formulas based on student enrollment and institutional mission.”