SB 11-052: Concerning expectations for higher education institutions in Colorado, and making an appropriation in connection therewith
Senate Bill 11-052
Testimony to the House Education Committee
Frank Waterous, Ph.D., Senior Policy Analyst
May 4, 2011
My name is Frank Waterous, and I am a senior policy analyst with the Bell Policy Center. The Bell is a non-partisan, non-profit research and policy organization dedicated to expanding opportunity for all Coloradans.
The Bell Policy Center supports Senate Bill 11-052, "Goals for Higher Ed System." The bill will expand opportunity in Colorado by increasing post-secondary success for all students – including minority, low-income and working adult students – and by strengthening the state's workforce and enhancing our economic competitiveness.
In its scope and vision, SB 11-052 is consistent with the recommendations of the Higher Education Strategic Planning Steering Committee as outlined in its final report, The Degree Dividend. It reinforces the central importance of the higher education master-planning process in articulating and achieving critical statewide goals. It also conforms with – and more importantly does not work at potential cross-purposes to – the Financial and Accountability Plans required under Senate Bill 10-003 to ensure post-secondary affordability for low- and middle-income students. Further, it aligns well with the Bell Policy Center's long-standing position that higher education performance contracts should include meaningful and explicit goals to increase the post-secondary success of all Colorado students, especially those who are currently underserved.
We believe that it is appropriate for the state to establish specific goals for the higher education system, and to collaboratively develop with the governing boards expectations to be included in performance contracts tailored to the role and mission of each individual institution. We also think it is appropriate to create financial incentives for institutions to achieve those expectations and goals.
In our view, the performance-based, outcome-oriented approach proposed in this bill represents an important new component of transparency and accountability for our institutions and our statewide system – that is, accountability to the students and families who continue to bear more and more of the costs of supporting higher education in our state.
The goals outlined in the bill match well with policies that the Bell Policy Center has historically advocated: increasing post-secondary student success, expanding the reach of that success to include underrepresented populations, ensuring affordability for low- and middle-income students and families, and emphasizing higher education as the foundation of workforce and economic development in our state.
As an organization that is dedicated to increasing education and skills-development opportunities for working adults in Colorado, we are particularly pleased with the statement in the bill's legislative declaration that all adult citizens of the state should have access to and be successful in completing post-secondary opportunities. In this regard, we urge the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and the governing boards to include explicit expectations related to non-traditional and adult students in each of the performance contracts that they mutually develop so that this important goal can be achieved.
In closing, the Bell Policy Center believes that Senate Bill 11-052 will increase post-secondary educational opportunity and success, and strengthen our state's workforce and economic base. We urge you to support the bill, and we thank you for the opportunity to share this information today.
If you have any questions, or if I can provide further information, please call me at 303-297-0456 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.