Reporting Higher Education Results: Missing Links in the Performance Chain: New Directions for Institutional Research, Number 116
March 2003, Jossey-Bass
This issue explores the origins and development of performance reporting, examines the attitudes of state and campus leaders, and discusses how these reports are--or are not--being put to use. Burke and Minassians begin by tracing the rise of performance reporting amidst the demands for increased accountability in higher education in the late 80s and early 90s. They examine the formats, coverage, and content of performance reports--with a particular emphasis on how well suited they are to the needs of their end users in government and on campus--and discuss how reporting indicators are selected and what the selection process tells us about policymakers' goals, values, and models for excellence for public colleges and universities.
The authors then look at what state and campus officials think about performance reports and how they actually use them. Burke and Minassians analyze the opinions of a geographically diverse group of governor's aides, legislative chairs of education committees, higher education finance officers, and campus institutional researchers about the use, effects and future of performance reporting, and about the importance and appropriateness of the indicators most commonly used in performance reports. Finally, the authors discuss reasons why performance reporting does not yet seem to be having the strong positive impact envisioned by it's supporters, and they make recommendations about how to best use and improve performance information.
This is the 116th issue of the quarterly journal New Directions for Institutional Research.
1. The New Accountability: From Regulation to Results: In this chapter we trace the rise of the "new accountability" and describe the policy responses of outcomes assessment, performance funding and budgeting, and performance reporting.
2. Performance Reports: Coverage and Customers, Purposes and Priorities: We examine the coverage, content, and customers of the performance reports, along with their purposes, priorities, initiation methods, and the emerging changes in their style and substance.
3. Reporting Indicators: What Do They Indicate?: The performance types, concerns, policy values, and models of excellence implied in the reporting indicators are identified, and the use of performance measures by two- and four-year campuses are compared.
Appendix to Chapter 3. Reporting Indicators with Indicator Types, Concerns, Values, and Models.
4. Policymakers’ Reactions to Performance Reporting: We summarize the results of an opinion survey of governors’ aides, legislative chairs of education committees, higher education finance officers, and campus institutional researchers on the use, effects, and future of performance reporting.
Appendix to Chapter 4. Survey Population and Respondents.
5. Indicator Preferences: Acceptability Trumps Accountability: In this chapter, state and campus policymakers’ views are given on the importance and appropriateness of the most common indicators used in state and campus performance reports.
6. Measuring Down and Up: The Missing Link: We compare the results from the National Center for Public Policy in Higher Education’s state report cards and the state performance reports and note that the states with performance reports received no better grades than those without them.
7. Performance Reporting: Promises, Problems, and Prospects: In this concluding chapter, we review the prospects, problems, and possibilities of performance reporting and discuss two fundamental flaws in performance reporting.
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