As I See It
Performance based funding not certain to make UW System better
On the surface, it may seem like a good idea. Tying our tax dollars to how well public colleges and universities perform. It is an idea a number of states have adopted, and Wisconsin may be next. Governor Walker has indicated he may tie some state funding for the University of Wisconsin System to a performance-based model. Some of the performance the money will be linked to could include a school’s graduation rates, how many graduates a school produces in high-demand fields and its job placement rates. Walker argues the performance-based funding models work for the state’s technical college system. But it may be too early to tell. Wisconsin’s technical colleges only adopted the model a few years ago. And so far there seems to be little evidence that graduation rates or the number of degrees awarded goes up under a performance-based funding model. And there may be some drawbacks. Schools which are under pressure to improve their graduation rates may be tempted to pad grades to make sure students don’t fail, or water down course materials. And they may be less likely to accept minority or low-income students who they don’t feel are as likely to graduate. We don’t know the details of what Walker will propose yet, but it seems there is little reason to think our schools will do better under this plan.