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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Accountability Report Stresses Standards

The Board of Higher Education has issued a progress report on public colleges in the Bay state. “The Accountability Report: State and Community Colleges” is the end result of a law that makes the BHE responsible for implementing a “performance measurement system for state and community colleges.” The University of Massachusetts is expected to prepare its own report along the same lines.

The first annual accountability report, which measured campus performance in 8 areas, was critical of graduation rates and “institutional strategic initiatives” in several big state schools. It has drawn attention because a clause in the law states that underperforming schools can be forced to relinquish control to the BHE until they can meet standards.

The report assessed the performance of the 24 state and community colleges, taking stock of twelve indices including affordability, student access and achievement, cost-effective use of resources, fundraising from private sources and workforce development

Legislation introduced in 1997 mandated that a performance measurement system be developed by the BHE, which was to aim at evaluating and comparing “peer” institutions with similar objectives. Using “accountability objectives, performance measures and expected outcomes,” the board will evaluate public institutions of higher education yearly. The University of Massachusetts was directed to develop a similar system for its campuses, and would furthermore be required to submit a report on its own performance.

An amendment added in June 2003 allows the Massachusetts Board of higher education to seize control of schools that fail to meet defined educational standards. Control of funds appropriated for those declared underperforming would be transferred to the Board of Higher Education, to be disbursed at their discretion.

In the last decade, Massachusetts policymakers and leaders have dramatically reshaped the Commonwealth’s public higher education system in an effort to reduce tuition costs, increase student enrollment and raise academic standards.

Changes included the establishment of the Board of Higher Education, which was created to coordinate the state’s system of higher education and define its mission and which actually replaced the old Board of Regents. Additionally, all five University of Massachusetts campuses were placed under a single board of trustees, and local boards of trustees at community and state colleges were granted greater authority.