Colorado Creates Master Plan For Improving Higher Education

Ann McClure's picture

Although Colorado colleges have long been asked to be mindful of their performance in areas such as graduation rates and student retention, when it came time to pass out money, the schools with the biggest enrollments were the ones that got the financial rewards.

"Think about how schools are funded," said Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia. "It's always been based on enrollment, not success. The more students you had, the more money you got, both in tuition and from the state. And whether you graduated those students didn't really matter. In fact, the longer you had those students, the longer it took for them to graduate, the more money you netted."

Garcia, who also serves as the executive director of the state Department of Higher Education, wants that to change. On Tuesday, the department will release its expectations for each of the state's colleges and universities in the form of performance contracts signed by administrators at each school.

This master plan will measure areas such as retention and access, and it calls for schools to be monitored for five years, with each school's results announced annually. In time, the hope is that schools will be rewarded financially by the state for reaching their benchmarks.

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