- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 8, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The state’s higher education leaders have proposed changing funding formulas so they focus more on completions of certificate or degree programs and less on enrollment.

Presidents and chancellors of various institutions got a first look at a draft of the proposed funding method on Tuesday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1TWe6fb ) reports.

Brett Powell, director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, said that the method is aligned with the state’s master plan for higher education, which seeks to raise the percentage of adult Arkansans who have technical certificates, associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees or higher to 60 percent by 2025.

The proposal is a result of a committee of education officials led by Glen Jones, the president of Henderson State University. Higher-education leaders now want to use what they are calling an outcomes-based funding formula.

Since 2011, 90 percent of a school’s funding allocation came from an enrollment formula, while the rest of its funding was determined by weighted measures known as performance-based funding.

According to Powell, the new method would provide a clearer picture of the state of Arkansas campuses, and could redirect funds to help students progress toward graduation and curb increases in tuition and fees.

The proposed method would use several weighted measures, including credentials from noncredit industry-recognized certifications and training, progression toward graduation and the number of transfer students.

Powell said the proposed method, which has a five-year implementation period, may have some unintended consequences like raising admissions standards or reducing academic quality to ensure that all students finish.

The state Department of Higher Education will continue to work on the proposal until it presents it to the Higher Education Coordinating Board in July.

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