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Accountability, Reporting, and Performance: Why Haven't They Made More Difference?

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The 1990s brought a new notion of accountability for public colleges and universities. The goal shifted from accounting for expenditures to accounting for results. Academics, who were now expected to set goals and evaluate results while cutting costs, opposed the application of this model to academia. Public higher education had adopted Austin's Resource and Reputation Model, which states that quality comes from the quantity of campus resources, the quality of admitted students, and the reputation of faculty research. The resistance to focusing on institutional results led to criticisms by business and government, and the states stepped in. The six regional accrediting agencies made assessing student outcomes a requirement for accreditation. Performance reporting added meeting state needs to the earlier assessment practices. Reporting these results also had the tacit goal of increasing state funding, at least for campus leaders. By 2000, 30 states had performance reports; yet 49% of State Higher Education Finance Officers say that accountability reporting has had little or no effect on institutional performance. Nearly 90% of senior officers say they are familiar with performance funding programs, while over 60% of chairs report little or no familiarity, which is a possible explanation for the lack of impact of the programs. (Contains 17 tables and 16 references.) (NB)

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Author:Burke, Joseph C.
Publication:ERIC: Reports
Date:May 3, 2001
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