New information is available on several higher education outcome measures, as we describe below. In the future, the Legislature and the higher education systems will need additional information on these and other performance measures.
In our Analysis of the 1994-95 Budget Bill, we noted that each segment of higher education and the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) annually provide much information to the Legislature and the Governor on educational and financial inputs or processes, such as the number of students enrolled, expenditures per student, and the number of course sections offered. However, very little of the information is on the outcomes of higher education.
We recommended that the Legislature begin to focus more directly on the outcomes of higher education, rather than the inputs or processes. We further noted that if the Legislature can develop measures that accurately and reliably gauge outcomes, it could hold the segments accountable for their performance through such mechanisms as performance budgeting. Thus, the budget debate would center around the products of higher education rather than on how different types of expenditures are scheduled.
Based on our recommendations, the Legislature adopted supplemental report language to the 1994 Budget Act specifying legislative intent that:
In a related development, the CPEC issued its first performance measures report in December 1994, as required by Chapter 741, Statutes of 1991 (AB 1808, Hayden). The report includes information on students' participation, retention, and graduation rates as well as the work-force needs and ethnicity information specified above. In the following analysis, we provide an overview of the retention and graduation data contained in CPEC's report and an update on the three supplemental language issues identified above. In our analysis of community colleges, we also discuss additional community college accountability issues.
A high proportion of UC and CSU freshmen and transfer students graduate.
In its December 1994 report on various higher education performance measures, the CPEC provided information on the graduation and persistence rates of first- time freshmen and community college transfer students at UC and CSU. ( Persistence rate is defined as the proportion of students who either graduate or are still enrolled during a specified time period.) As we discuss in a later section on accountability, information on graduation rates is not available for the community colleges.
First-time freshmen. Figure 12 shows the status of first-time freshmen that were admitted under regular requirements five years after entering college. For the UC, the data are for the 1985 freshman class and for the CSU, the 1983 freshman class. For both systems, a majority of students had graduated or were still enrolled five years after entering college. At the UC, 68 percent had graduated and 7 percent were still enrolled, while 25 percent were not enrolled. At CSU, 28 percent had graduated and 31 percent were still enrolled, while 41 percent were not enrolled.
According to the UC and CSU systems, the vast majority of the students who were still enrolled are likely to graduate. The students who were not still enrolled include those who transfer outside their respective university systems, or drop out either on a temporary or permanent basis. The CSU data reflect that many students at the CSU attend part-time and may take more than five years to graduate.
Transfer Students. Figure 13 (see next page) shows the status of students at the UC and the CSU who transferred from a community college, three years after transfer. The data are for students entering the UC and the CSU in fall 1985. Again, the majority had graduated or were still enrolled three years prior to transferring. At the UC, 66 percent had graduated and 10 percent were still enrolled, while 24 percent were not enrolled. At the CSU, 29 percent had graduated and 38 percent were still enrolled, while 33 percent were not enrolled.
Summary. The CPEC notes that persistence rates at UC and CSU appear to be increasing, but indicates that there are no data available to compare the information presented above with a consistent base year (such as 1980). The information presented in the December 1994 CPEC report represents an important first step in developing base year information that will eventually allow the Legislature to compare UC and CSU graduation and persistence rates consistently over time.
At the time of budget hearings, the Legislature will have updated information available on the development of four-year degree pledge programs and related measures at each campus.
Based on the latest available information, 30 percent of the UC's regularly- admitted freshmen graduate in four years. The average time to degree is 4.4 years. The CSU reports that 25 percent of first-time freshmen graduate in five years. (The CSU does not have data available on four-year graduation rates.) The average time to degree is 5.6 years.
In our Analysis of the 1994-95 Budget Bill, we recommended that four-year pledge programs be established at each UC and CSU campus to ensure that students wishing to graduate in four years are able to do so. Under such programs, the campus pledges to provide specialized advice to students and guarantees that students in the program will be able to take the courses they need to graduate in four years. The students, in turn, agree to meet with the advisors and to follow the agreed upon courses of study. We believe that a four-year pledge (and longer pledges for part-time students) is a relevant and reliable outcome measure that will direct campuses' actions to realign faculty and other resources to meet students' needs.
Based on our recommendation, the Legislature adopted supplemental report language to the 1994 Budget Act specifying legislative intent that four-year pledge programs and similar programs for part-time students be established on each UC and CSU campus by 1995-96. The language also requests the UC and CSU to submit reports to the Legislature by March 1, 1995 on each system's plans to start these programs and on related efforts to improve students' time to degree. We will provide comments on these reports, as appropriate, at legislative budget hearings.
In recent years, social science and humanities degrees conferred have outpaced the growth of science and engineering at the UC and CSU. While the number of life and physical science degrees and certificates has grown significantly faster at the CCC, degrees and certificates in these disciplines remain a much smaller portion of total awards earned than at the UC and the CSU.
Based on our recommendation in the Analysis of the 1994-95 Budget Bill, the Legislature adopted supplemental report language to the 1994 Budget Act specifying legislative intent that the CPEC, in its annual report required by Chapter 741/91 (AB 1808, Hayden), report on degrees conferred at the UC and CSU and on degrees and certificates conferred at the CCC, as compared to available data on the state's work-force needs. In its December 1994 report, the CPEC presents information on the number and types of degrees conferred at UC and CSU. Although the report does not contain similar information for the community colleges, we have worked with CPEC and the community colleges Chancellor's Office to obtain the information, which is presented below. The CPEC report also does not include comparison information on the state's work-force needs as requested by the Legislature. CPEC staff are working with other state agencies responsible for work-force data to address this issue in the next annual report, due in November 1995.
University of California. From 1987-88 to 1992-93, the number of undergraduate degrees conferred at the UC increased by 33 percent. Figure 14 shows that the number of humanities, professional, and social science degrees grew faster than average, while the number of life science and engineering degrees grew slower than average. During this time period, the number of physical science degrees declined by 16 percent.
The UC conferred 31,130 undergraduate degrees in 1992-93. Figure 15 shows that 53 percent were in social sciences and humanities and 28 percent were in science and engineering.
California State University. From 1987-88 through 1992-93, the number of undergraduate degrees conferred at the CSU increased by 20 percent. Figure 16 shows that the CSU experienced the same trend as the UC--the number of social science and humanities degrees grew faster than average, while the number of life science degrees grew slower than average. During this time period, the number of engineering and physical science degrees declined by 11 and 13 percent, respectively.
The CSU conferred 55,665 undergraduate degrees in 1992-93. Figure 17 shows that 33 percent were in business and other professional areas, 30 percent were in the social sciences and humanities, and 22 percent were in science and engineering.Community Colleges. Below is a description of degrees and certificates awarded by the CCC. It is not, however, a complete picture of the CCC response to workforce needs. This is because the CCCs are required to pursue a variety of educational missions, many of which do not lead to a degree or certificate as an outcome. Other outcomes, such as changes in earnings after participation in various CCC occupational programs, should be considered alongside degrees and certificates awarded. Moreover, the CCCs are by design more attuned to regional employment and training needs than they are to the needs of the state as a whole. Thus, their responsiveness to workforce needs should ultimately be measured on a regional basis, rather than on a statewide basis. For the present, this is not possible, because the CCC Chancellor's Office has only recently begun to collect the necessary information.
From 1987-88 through 1992-93, the number of associate degrees and various certificates of proficiency conferred by the CCCs increased by 50 percent. Figure 18 (see next page) shows that the CCCs, like the UC and the CSU, also experienced faster-than-average growth in the humanities and the social sciences. Unlike UC and CSU, however, CCCs experienced much faster than average growth in the physical and life sciences. The CPEC advises that this may result from regional growth in demand for individuals prepared to enter occupations that involve applications of basic science, such as health technologies or hazardous materials remediation. Moreover, CCCs awarded a relatively small number of degrees and certificates in the life and physical sciences in 1987-88. Thus, while the number of life and physical science degrees and certificates more than doubled in the five-year period examined here, these degrees and certificates still account for a much smaller share of the total than at the UC and the CSU.
Among the most heavily enrolled professional/occupational disciplines at the CCCs, degree and certificate awards increased at an above average rate in protective services (primarily law enforcement and emergency services) and vocational home economics (primarily child care and child development), but at lower than average rates in business, computer and information sciences, engineering, health occupations, production trades, and mechanical trades.
The CCCs conferred 70,557 associate degrees and certificates of proficiency in 1992-93. Figure 19 shows that 56 percent were in various professional and occupational areas, 36 percent were in humanities and social sciences, and 2 percent were in the life and physical sciences.
Summary. In all three segments, social science and humanities degrees have outpaced the average. According to CPEC, these changes reflect the national trend. However, the CPEC also notes that the decreases in physical science and engineering at the UC and CSU run counter to recent state and national efforts to increase training in mathematics and the physical sciences needed in a technologically expanding society. On the positive side, however, the disciplines with the greatest increases at UC and CSU have historically been those from which teacher candidates have arose. This is another high need area in the state, especially if coupled with bilingual proficiency.
Unlike the UC and CSU, the CCC's experienced significant growth in the physical and life services, which probably reflects regional growth in demand for specialized training in the health and environment technologies.
The racial and ethnic diversity of undergraduate degree recipients has increased but there continue to be disparities between the racial and ethnic diversity of high school graduates compared to college graduates. Since the mid-1970's, the Legislature has clearly articulated outcome measures with regard to the ethnic diversity of undergraduate degrees conferred. Generally, these measures have involved comparisons with the ethnic diversity of high school graduates. (We discuss this issue in greater detail in our Analysis of the 1994-95 Budget Bill). Based on our recommendation, the Legislature adopted supplemental report language to the 1994 Budget Act specifying legislative intent that CPEC report on degrees conferred at the UC and CSU (and on degrees and certificates conferred by the community colleges) by ethnicity in comparison to high school graduates. The CPEC has provided the information requested in various recent reports. (The racial and ethnic categories we use below are as reported by CPEC.)
UC and CSU. Comparing 1987-88 to 1992-93, the UC and the CSU experienced increases in the proportions of Latino, Asian, and African-American students graduating with a Bachelor's degree. These changes are displayed in Figures 20 and 21 below. The increases generally reflect the increasing diversity of undergraduate enrollments.
Community colleges. No conclusions can be drawn about the ethnic diversity of CCC degree and certificate recipients in 1987-88 because of data collection problems. Information from the community colleges Chancellor's Office, however, indicates an increase in ethnic diversity between 1991-92 and 1992-93 among degree and certificate recipients, and over the period 1990-91 through 1992-93 among students who transferred to the UC or CSU. Despite this progress, Figure 22 shows that there continue to be disparities between the racial and ethnic diversity of high school graduates and CCC graduates and transfers.
Summary. The UC, CSU, and CCC have experienced increases in the proportion of Latino, Asian, and African-American undergraduate students that graduate (or transfer, in the case of the CCCs). However, there continue to be disparities between the racial and ethnic diversity of high school graduates compared to UC, CSU, and CCC graduates.
The three measures discussed above provide the segments and the Legislature with important information about the end products of state spending on higher education. These measures will become even more useful as a historical record of data is developed to show trends over time.
Of course, it is not possible to capture in three measures all the desired results from the segments. The Legislature will have to have other measures that provide a more comprehensive picture of the segments' performance. For instance, the systems need measures that reflect the quality of the educational services provided. These could be captured through such means as surveys of students (and their parents) and information on the average earnings of graduates. Currently, such information is available only for particular systems or programs. Another important measure-- assessments of improvements in student knowledge, capacity and skills between entrance and graduation --has been called for in Chapter 741. The segments also need productivity data--such as annual information on cost per unit of lower-division and upper-division instruction--to measure how efficiently the systems are providing services. Finally, information linking productivity to outcomes--such as the cost per student who graduates--is needed.
The development of reliable, comprehensive outcome measures is critical, both for focusing efforts of the higher education segments and for providing the Legislature with practical tools for assessing the return on higher education spending.
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