Governor Deval Patrick is expected to announce today that for the first time in decades, Massachusetts is awarding some money to public colleges and universities based on their plans to boost academic performance, rather than on how many students they enroll.
The money will go mostly to schools that proposed strategies to raise graduation rates, strengthen science instruction and career development, and close achievement gaps among minorities.
The grants are relatively modest - $2.5 million in total, taken from the 2012 state budget finalized in July - but they signal an important shift in the state’s approach to higher education funding. Massachusetts officials’ campaign to make colleges more accountable mirrors recent ideas that have swept elementary, middle, and high schools.
“This is a sea change in the way we think about higher education funding and a harbinger of important changes to come,’’ said Paul Reville, secretary of education, comparing the competition to the federal Race to the Top contest for states reforming their public school systems.