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Lawmakers make more moves toward outcome-based funds for higher ed

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Legislators polished their plan for outcome-based funding for higher education at a Nov. 27 meeting.

Jimmy Clarke, senior associate with HCM Strategists, visited the West Virginia Legislature to discuss the draft of a report about outcome-based funding that stakeholders have been tweaking since August.

Clarke reminded everyone that Senate Bill 436 charged the interim committee with studying outcomes-based funding models along with some public policy objectives and to provide recommendations about how to balance the needs of institutions, relative to a few other factors.

Clarke said West Virginia is good at getting young people to attend college, but the state doesn't do a good job keeping them enrolled or graduating them. He said it's important to look at the complexities of the Mountain State's demographics that might lead to those statistics.

The committee adopted the goal of seeing an additional 20,000 college degrees completed in the state by the year 2018, and the report establishes a framework for a timeline to implement outcomes-based funding.

Clark said stakeholders wanted to keep a distinction between two-year and four-year institutions, and they want to allocate 25 percent of the state's existing higher ed funding to outcome-based funding by Fiscal Year 2019. Clarke said Fiscal Year 2014 could serve as a pilot, and in 2015, the program could start with 5 percent of the state's funding, then build by 5 percent each year until the 25 percent goal is attained. Clark also said an audit function will be included.

Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, co-chairman of the interim committee, said it was both surprising and nice to see more presidents from the state's four-year institutions at the meeting than he had ever seen at an education meeting.

He also stressed the need for "unfiltered data," without any bias before making a motion that the committee accept the report.

Plymale said the committee will continue to work in its December and January meetings to move the document into draft legislation for the upcoming session.