A New Era of Accountability: Resolving the Clash of Public Good and Economic Stimulation Performance

A New Era of Accountability: Resolving the Clash of Public Good and Economic Stimulation Performance

Marilee Bresciani Ludvik
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2410-7.ch012
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The clash of whether higher education should serve the public good or economic stimulation seems more alive than ever to some, and to others, it has come to an end. Not agreeing on the purpose of American higher education certainly makes it difficult to know whether educators are being responsible for delivering what is expected of them. Rather than reviewing the important debate that has already taken place, this chapter seeks to merge the two seemingly juxtaposed disagreements and discuss how bringing the two purposes together may influence how we examine accountability. As such, an inquiry model, including ways to gather and interpret institutional performance indicators for accountability is posited. Practical suggestions for implementation of this methodology are provided.
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Accountability Measures For Public Good Versus Accountability Measures For Economic Vitality

With the risk of oversimplifying the accountability conversation, it is important to note that institutional performance indicators have been and are continuing to be used by international, federal, and state agencies to determine how well higher education organizations are doing what they are expected to do. The emphasis on these indicators may have increased the tension between the public good purpose and the economic stimulation purpose of higher education. In essence, when decision makers place more weight on specific performance indicators that have been used to inform institutional funding formula decisions such as 4-year degree attainment rates, higher education leaders logically pay attention and then subsequently emphasize focus upon improving these indicators within their institutions. Figure 1 below seeks to reconcile some of the economic stimulation accountability indicators (e.g. institutional performance indicators) with public good accountability indicators. The indicators on both sides of the argument can include four-year and six-year graduation rates, job placement rates, and accrual of student loan debt along with all the other indicators that influence that data, such as term-to-term persistence, number of credit hours accumulated toward a degree, etc., however, how these indicators are framed, disaggregated and considered for decision making makes the difference on whether educators are demonstrating accountability for economic vitality or public good or both.

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