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ERIC Number: ED536705
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jul
Pages: 38
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
The Dreaded "P" Word: An Examination of Productivity in Public Postsecondary Education
Kelly, Patrick J.
Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity and Accountability
In 2005, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) produced a report entitled "A New Look at the Institutional Component of Higher Education Finance: A Guide for Evaluating Performance Relative to Financial Resources." It gauged the performance of state public postsecondary education sectors (i.e. research, bachelor's and master's, and two-year institutions) on a variety of measures relative to the resources made available to them through state and local appropriations, and tuition and fees. Measures of performance included graduation rates and degree production for each sector of postsecondary education, and research expenditures at the public research universities. While the findings were not conclusive enough to determine which state systems (and sectors within them) are over- or under-funded, they clearly point to the reality that some perform better than others with the resources they have. This analysis also refutes the argument that more funding always leads to better performance. This report expands work previously conducted by NCHEMS to incorporate a more general measure of degree and certificate productivity, gauging the levels of unrestricted resources made available to state public colleges and universities and the corresponding production of degrees and certificates--taking into account the value of these credentials in each state's employment market. Degree and certificate production is a mission held in common by all institutions with distinctions based on levels (e.g. certificate, associate's, bachelor's, master's, etc.) and types (e.g. liberal arts, engineering, computer science, etc.). The report addresses two questions relevant to many policymakers: (1) What is the value to individuals and the state of producing college credentials--by level and type?; and (2) How well are our institutions utilizing the public's investment to produce them? This report is not intended to highlight past efforts to address productivity in postsecondary education. It provides a new approach for addressing productivity that utilizes publicly available data, provides comparable information for systems of postsecondary education across all states, and sets the topic in a contextual framework that is easy to understand. Detailed tables are appended. (Contains 17 figures and 12 footnotes.) [Funding for this paper was provided by Making Opportunity Affordable, an initiative of Lumina Foundation for Education.]
Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity and Accountability. Available from: Delta Cost Project at American Institutes for Research. 1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007. Tel: 202-403-5410; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity and Accountability