December 9, 2011

Jefferson City - The Coordinating Board for Higher Education met Dec. 8 and heard Sen. David Pearce and Rep. Mike Thomson explain the provisions of twin bills they pre-filed for consideration during the upcoming legislative session.

The CBHE also accepted a report on the Performance Funding Task Force, and learned which colleges and universities earned Nursing Incentive Grants.

The proposed legislation is intended to increase the number of Missourians with degrees and high quality certificates by making their progress through higher education more efficient. The bills would:

  • require institutions to use best practices in remedial coursework, so students master the basic concepts they need to do college-level work
  • require institutions to adopt a "core transfer library" of at least 25 courses that are transferable among all public higher education institutions
  • require the CBHE to develop a policy to foster reverse transfer between a two-year and a four-year public institution for students who have accumulated enough hours to be awarded an associate's degree
  • require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to maintain alignment of assessments with entry level college requirements

Commissioner of Higher Education David Russell said the sponsors of the proposed legislation want colleges and universities to make it simpler for more students to complete their degrees faster and at less expense.

"Many students need remedial coursework upon entering college," Russell said, "and students who transfer encounter problems that can delay their progress through college. Under the proposed legislation, the Department of Higher Education would develop policy solutions to improve remediation and transfer."

Russell appointed the Performance Funding Task Force last February to implement one of Gov. Nixon's key strategies for higher education. Paul Wagner, deputy commissioner of higher education, chaired the task force. He said performance funding is gaining traction nationally because it focuses on results.

"The concept of performance funding rewards institutions that show results using agreed upon measurements and reliable data," Wagner said. "There's nearly universal agreement that state funding for higher education is inadequate, but if and when new funding becomes available, it makes sense that all or part of the new funding would be awarded based on how institutions perform and if they demonstrate improvement."

The task force's recommendations focus on five key areas: student success and progress, degree attainment, quality of student learning, financial responsibility and efficiency, and support of institution-specific measures.

The Coordinating Board accepted the report of the task force and will act on the recommendations when it submits a budget request for fiscal year 2014 next September.

Wagner also announced the recipients of Nursing Incentive Grants, intended to increase institutions' capacity to educate new nurses. The recipients are University of Missouri-St. Louis, Ozarks Technical College, Mineral Area College, Cox College, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Missouri-Kansas City and William Jewell College.