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History of Closing the Gaps

At the Coordinating Board’s planning meeting held in San Antonio in March, 1999, the Board decided to develop a new higher education plan. The Board emphasized that the new plan should concentrate on the most critical goals, set a date by which to reach the goals, and create a means by which to measure progress toward the goals.

In April 1999, a Coordinating Board Planning Committee was appointed to develop a new higher education plan. In September 1999, 17 additional people, including business community representatives, community leaders, and former higher education governing board members from around the state, were added to the committee.

In addition, four task forces were formed to focus on key issues:

  • Committee on OCR Issues (20 members) – held six meetings and/or public hearings and reported its recommendations in April 2000.
  • Task Force on Participation and Success (15 members) – held four meetings and presented its report in June 2000.
  • Task Force on Health Professions Education (14 members) – held three meetings and presented its report in June 2000.
  • Task Force on Development of the Technology Workforce (14 members) – held four meetings across the state; its report was presented in April 2000.

In September 1999, the Council for Aid to Education/RAND Corporation was awarded a contract to perform a priority and efficiency analysis of higher education programs and services in Texas. The final reports from the RAND Corporation were presented to the Committee and summarized for the Coordinating Board in April 2000.

Reports from the Task Forces and Committee on OCR Issues were distributed to all Board members.

In July 2000, the Coordinating Board reviewed the draft higher education plan recommended by the Planning Committee and authorized, with some modification, its distribution for comment.

The draft plan was mailed to more than 1,500 people and groups, including the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker, Comptroller, Legislative committee members, public higher education governing board members, public and independent higher education chancellors and presidents, chambers of commerce, the State Board of Education, the Texas Education Agency, faculty associations, student associations, the Texas Parent Teacher Association, the Texas Association of School Boards, the Texas Association of Community Colleges, the Texas Association of Partners in Education, the Texas Association of School Principals, the Texas Association of Student Councils, the Texas Association of School Administrators, the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals, the Texas Council on Workforce and Economic Development, the Texas Workforce Commission, and others for comment. The Committee received comments from approximately 100 people. Responses supported the goals presented in the Plan, but additional strategies and issues were offered as well.

At a meeting held on September 21, 2000, the Planning Committee reviewed the comments and discussed higher education plan changes that were made in response to the comments. The Committee voted to recommend the plan to the Coordinating Board.

The Coordinating Board approved the Closing the Gaps Higher Education Plan in October 2000.

The success of Closing the Gaps will depend not only on financial resources but on institutional creativeness and initiative in meeting institutional targets for 2005, 2010 and 2015. The strategy to develop a performance system to determine progress is one of the plan's key elements.

In January 2001, the Board requested that staff develop a performance system that would include institutional targets.

The Coordinating Board staff surveyed public institutions of higher education to get their institutional targets.

The contemplated performance system will allow an annual progress report. The information will be shared with the higher education community, the Legislature, and the public. The system also will help identify the institutions that have particular success, and allow their strategies to be shared with others.

The Coordinating Board received a legislative appropriation in 2000 to expand access to data currently collected through several different operational systems and stored in multiple distinct databases. Legislative support was provided for this program in close cooperation with the Texas Education Agency and State Board for Educator Certification for development of a P-16 Student/Staff Public Education Data Warehouse. Work has already begun on this process with meetings of staff from the three agencies.

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