Because state legislatures have been tying funding of colleges and universities to student performance, some institutions of the higher learning have been limiting the intake of Distressed Material.  But because it's not straightforward to identify Distressed Material on the basis of transcripts and test scores, Inside Higher Ed's Paul Fain suggests the policies create incentives to enroll fewer low-income students. "State performance funding formulas lead to small decline in Pell revenue per student, new study finds, suggesting public colleges may be gaming formulas by enrolling fewer low-income students."  There are opportunities for additional research.  There's also, as you might expect in higher education, fretting about whether performance-based measures unintentionally make institutions "too selective" and less welcoming to "underserved populations."

But tweaking completion formulas to recognize the challenges of bringing up to college standards students whose preparation might have been adversely affected in a lousy government school in a lousy neighborhood doesn't get to the root cause of the problem.
[Once,] the common schools understood their mission to include preparing informed citizens and inculcating the habits of the upper middle class. Yes, that America was more sanguine about young people who didn't develop those habits opting out. On the other hand, forty years of enabling fecklessness and calling it inclusion puts us in a position where a respected public policy shop is calling for federal money to make community colleges more effective at doing what the high schools used to do as a matter of course. Perhaps the liquidity constraint that is going to bite on the government will encourage policymakers to look at restoring the older order, for lack of resources.
The liquidity constraint continues to bite. Fix the common culture.


DrPutt said...

The discussion to this point doesn't even include the perverse incentive this creates for maintaining standards in schools thusly funded.

Stephen Karlson said...

That train has already left the station. The subprime party school is one way of gundecking retention statistics whilst not challenging the snowflakes too much. I suspect that the latest revenue ploy, admitting more out-of-state students who pay full fare as a way of dealing with legislative stinginess, will also dilute the matriculant pool. Used to be at the state institutions that the high-performing kids from other states helped set the academic bar.