Evaluating the Impacts of “New” Performance Funding in Higher Education
Evaluating the Impacts of “New” Performance Funding in Higher Education
Published online first in:
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
January 14, 2015

Nicholas W. Hillman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
David A. Tandberg, Florida State University
Alisa H. Fryar, University of Oklahoma


In 2007, Washington adopted the Student Achievement Initiative, a statewide performance accountability system designed to improve retention rates and degree productivity among community colleges. Using difference-in-differences analysis, we found that the policy change has had little immediate effect on retention rates or associate’s degree productivity. However, community colleges produced more short-term certificates after the policy reform. These results are robust across many alternative comparison groups. Considering that certificates yield less value in the labor market than associate’s degrees but are easier for colleges to produce, we discuss the unintended consequences of rewarding colleges based on the number of credentials they produce.

News Coverage

Rise in Short-Term Certificates Linked to Accountability Changes for Colleges
Education Week (College Bound), January 14, 2015

What Sort of Degrees Do College Incentives Encourage?
Education Week (Inside School Research), January 14, 2015

Report: Performance Funding Might Not Help Students
U.S. News & World Report, January 14, 2015

Study: College performance incentives aren't big success
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Funding Formula Fracas
Inside Higher Ed, January 14, 2015

More States Tie Money to Colleges’ Performance, but That May Not Work
The Chronicle of Higher EducationJanuary 14, 2015

Morning Education: Performance Funding Pitfalls
Politico, January 14, 2015

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