States currently invest in community colleges based on enrollment and not performance. In many cases state legislatures have limited knowledge of their community colleges other than the fact they are providing a second chance for many constituents. America’s Graduation Initiative and eventual legislation should include grant funds for states to develop systemic changes in their community colleges. In order for states to be eligible to compete for grant funds they should have to:
- Enact a pilot programs that include performance measures as part of their per student subsidy.
- Use evidence-based management techniques to promote change across community colleges.
The pilot programs will help states develop performance benchmarks that recognize community college diversity and varied core competencies but that begin to get at management, instruction, and other service practices that actually help students persist to a credential.
Evidence-based management has been used effectively at the municipal and state level in public safety, citizen services, and health care. It uses information technology to organize and analyze granular data about challenges to be met and services being offered in combination with a robust frontline management approach that assesses effort and results.
New York City used these techniques to transform its policing over a 10-year period with a program called CitiStat. Iowa has used evidence-based management through its Iowa Charter Agencies initiative to provide state agencies with budgetary freedom given they meet certain performance benchmarks. As states pursue systemic change in their community college system EBM can help provide the data and the organizational structure to assess and implement needed changes.
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