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Senator Judith Zaffirini: District 21
Press Release
May 24, 2011
Contact: Will Krueger
(512) 463-0121
Texas Senate Approves Zaffirini's Outcomes-Based Funding Bill

(AUSTIN) — The Texas Senate on Tuesday (May 24) unanimously voted to explore using outcomes-based funding to promote excellence and student success at Texas colleges and universities.

House Bill (HB) 9, sponsored by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, and authored by Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, would direct the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to develop recommendations for funding policies that are based, in part, on student outcomes.

"Improving undergraduate student outcomes is critical to Texas' future economic competitiveness and general welfare," Senator Zaffirini said. "Our priority should be to consider funding mechanisms that align with our state's higher education goals and focus on student success. This legislation is an important step in that direction."

Texas public institutions of higher education are funded largely on the basis of semester credit hours. Accordingly, formula funding is appropriated to each college or university based on the number of students it educates. HB 9 would require THECB to make recommendations for outcomes-based formula funding inside and outside of formula funding. The bill would limit the outcomes-based recommendations to no more than 10 percent of base funding and would prohibit any reduction in funding for graduate education.

For each general academic teaching institution (four-year university), THECB could consider student success measures, including the number of bachelor's degrees awarded; bachelor's degrees awarded to at-risk students; bachelor's degrees awarded in critical fields such as engineering, mathematics and health; and how the institution performs against a predicted graduation rate.

Potential student success measures at community and technical colleges include the number of students who completed developmental education in mathematics and English, who completed their first 30 semester credit hours at the institution or who transferred to a four-year college or university after completing at least 15 semester credit hours. Other possible considerations include the number of associate degrees, bachelor's degrees and certificates awarded.

Additionally, HB 9 would require THECB to consult regularly with institutions of higher education to review the aforementioned student success measures.

"A collaborative approach is key to the success of any outcomes-based funding initiative," Senator Zaffirini said. "Instead of serving as an edict from on high, this bill would encourage cooperation between colleges and universities, the coordinating board and the legislature. What's more, it would engage institutions in identifying and evaluating the most effective measures of student success."

Finally, HB 9 would require THECB to develop a report identifying best practices for improving student outcomes and enhancing higher education governance, administration and transparency. The report would be submitted to the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency, co-chaired by Senator Zaffirini and Rep. Branch.

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SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, D-Laredo, is Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee and Co-Chair of Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency. She champions legislation and funding that promote excellence at all Texas institutions of higher education.