Missouri schools try to improve funding

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COLUMBIA - Missouri’s Coordinating Board for Higher Education is changing how it  measures the performance of colleges in order to set funding rates.

The new model focuses on college completion rates, affordability and graduate outcomes.

Director of Communications Liz Coleman said the main difference from last year's criteria focus on what happens with students after college.

“The plan focuses more on the graduation rates and adds measures that focus on affordability and graduate outcomes“ she said.

Coleman said the change is designed to make sure universities are helping their students succeed.

“The state requires the Department of Higher Education to review the performance funding model every three years to determine if the measures should be changed, to ensure that the state’s public colleges and universities are focused on helping students succeed in higher education and earn certificates and degrees,” Coleman said.

The new performance model is set up to answer the following questions provided on the Missouri Department of Higher Education website:

· Are students completing certificates and degrees?

· Are students mastering what they study?

· Are graduates getting jobs or continuing their education?

· Are college costs affordable?

· Are Missouri’s colleges and universities spending funds judiciously?

The Department of Higher Education collects data from the colleges each year. That data includes the number of students earning a degree; the number of students passing licensing or certification exams, such as nursing and engineering; and other measures.

The model contains specific measures for the state’s two-year colleges, four-year universities and the technical college.

Missouri will also focus on the need for graduates with degrees in STEM fields - science, technology, engineering, and math - and health care fields.

Coleman calls that "one way to encourage colleges and universities to help students succeed in STEM areas.”

Another goal is reducing the achievement gap for students who are underrepresented in higher education.

The Univeristy of Missouri's News Bureau Director, Christian Basi, said he feels confident MU will meet the criteria.

“Mizzou had been very successful in the past,” he said.

Basi said the Missouri Land grant will help.

“One of the recent announcements we made just this semester, at the beginning of the semester, was about providing more support for PELL-eligible students.," he said. "For students who are PELL eligible and from Missouri, they will now have their tuition covered.”

Basi said fixing the growing need for STEM majors is simple, because MU offers a unique teaching style, known as the Missouri Method - which gets students outside the classroom and into real-world settings.

“When you are in many of the sciences here, you are engaged in those sciences, not just in the classroom.”

The new model will be implemented for the Fiscal Year 2019 budget cycle, which begins July 1.