SB 52: Concerning expectations for higher education institutions in Colorado
Concerning expectations for higher education institutions in Colorado
Senate Bill 11-052
Testimony to the Senate Education Committee
Frank Waterous, Senior Policy Analyst
March 17, 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," as amended through L.007 (the strike-below amendment). 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 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. As amended, it 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. It is also consistent with the Bell Policy Center's long-standing position that higher education Performance Contracts should include 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, with expectations and metrics included in Performance Contracts tailored to the role and mission of each individual institution. We also think it is appropriate to establish financial incentives for institutions to achieve those goals. Additionally, we support the bill's provision requiring the development of "performance criteria" for non-public institutions as a condition of their participation in the state's student financial assistance program. In our view, this broad performance-based, outcome-oriented approach 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 commission and the institutions to include explicit expectations and metrics 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, as amended, 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.