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Making Opportunity Affordable: A Student-Centered Approach through Lumina Foundation

Texas has embarked on a multifaceted statewide initiative to improve college completion rates and reduce the cost to degree.  Improved use of the state's community colleges and the creation of 2+2 programs will be essential components of this initiative.  With the MOA planning funds over the next year, Texas will:  1) seek legislative approval for changes in higher education funding methodology to focus on outcomes/outputs rather than inputs and 2) develop a statewide degree program in mechanical engineering that will facilitate efficient transfer of credits among community colleges and four-year institutions.  Through the development of the mechanical engineering degree program, Texas will refine the process for developing degree programs in other areas of study and expanding this process to other fields of study over the next four years.    

 

Revised Scope of Work - Texas MOA 

Texas has revised its scope of work to further narrow the focus from the original Making Opportunity Affordable proposal, and to provide greater detail on the actions required to achieve the two primary goals of 1) restructuring the funding of institutions and 2) to more fully utilize the community college pathway to baccalaureate degrees by developing statewide degree programs.  Those two goals, along with the associated strategies, tasks, deliverables, and metrics, are listed below.  A third goal is included to provide flexibility for the stakeholder team to address complementary issues aligned with the productivity agenda and to identify any emerging recommendations for policy changes. 

Goal I: Structure the methods of funding institutions to reward productivity. 

Strategy I: Seek legislative approval for changes in higher education funding methodology to focus on outcomes/outputs rather than inputs. Tasks: Commissioner will meet with regents of all systems to share recommendations and receive their feedback (accomplished since submission of original proposal). Provide communications to stakeholders that give clear evidence that funding with a focus on outputs will improve productivity in higher education and reduce cost per degree without sacrificing quality. (January 2009—June 2009) 

Deliverables: 1) “Communications toolkit” that promotes the higher education productivity agenda in Texas, including how changes to the funding formula, incentive funding, and other funding recommendations will increase efficiency.  (January 2009—Resources provided by CommunicationWorks will be integrated with state-specific materials as they become available.) 

2) Legislation introduced and adopted that changes the funding formula. (June 2009)Metrics: Measure changes in 1) courses completed 2) cost per degree and 3) cost per full-time student equivalent (FTSE) over the next five years. 

Goal II: Improve the community college pathway to the baccalaureate degree, statewide. 

Strategy II: Develop and refine a process for developing statewide degree programs that will facilitate efficient transfer of credits among community colleges and four-year institutions and that can be applied to multiple fields of study. This will lower the cost per degree by reducing the number of duplicated courses and excessive credit hours. 

Tasks: Develop a statewide degree program in mechanical engineering with credits fully transferable from the community college to the university and applicable to the major. Complete an analysis of how engineering students who begin in community college perform when they transfer to four-year institutions and create a communications plan for sharing this with students, parents, and other stakeholders. (August 2009)  

Texas has embarked on a multifaceted statewide initiative to improve college completion rates and reduce the cost to degree.  Improved use of the state's community colleges and the creation of 2+2 programs will be essential components of this initiative. With the MOA planning funds over the next year, Texas will: 1) seek legislative approval for changes in higher education funding methodology to focus on outcomes/outputs rather than inputs and 2) develop a statewide degree program in mechanical engineering that will facilitate efficient transfer of credits among community colleges and four-year institutions. Through the development of the mechanical engineering degree program, Texas will refine the process for developing degree programs in other areas of study and expanding this process to other fields of study over the next four years.   

 

Goal III: Identify additional challenges/opportunities to improve productivity to be addressed in conjunction with, if not supported by, the Making Opportunity Affordable grant.

 

Strategy III A:  Implement recommendations from Developmental Education Symposium (an October 2008 initiative funded by Houston Endowment) to improve the delivery and success of developmental education.

Tasks:  Higher Education Policy Institute will complete formal report on recommendations resulting from the symposium.Seek state and private funding to pilot recommendations.Strategy III.B:  Identify policies that serve as a disincentive to productivity.  

Task:  THECB will engage a consultant to conduct a policy audit aligned with the template to be provided by Jobs For the Future (January 2009) and share results with stakeholder team for possible action or recommendations. (April 2009)

Deliverables:  Publication of policy audit. (April 2009)

Strategy III.C. Implement recommendations for best practices in transfer (identified at Transfer Success Summit held in February 2008.)

Task: Eight simultaneous Transfer Success Conferences will be held in geographically diverse regions across the state. Conferences will employ a mix of nationally known experts addressing participants through a webcast and local staff who have been trained to facilitate the generation of local action plans. Each site will host up to 200 participants. (Tentative date of April 24, to be confirmed in January.)

Strategy III.D.  Expand the Stakeholder Team for broader representation.

Task: Determine, in consultation with the current Stakeholder Team, who will be invited to represent the business and industry perspective. (December 2008) 

Planning Year Tasks to Test a Process for Developing Statewide Degree Program Agreements: Pilot for Mechanical Engineering DegreeI.                   

Preliminary Actions 

a.  Identify all Mechanical Engineering Programs at Texas Public Institutions of Higher Education. (December 2008)

b.   Develop Common Lower Division Course list. (January 2009)c.       Identify variations between institutions. (January 2009)

II.  Interactions with Public University Engineering Deans and Department Heads

a.       For mechanical engineering and math courses collect syllabi from universities to establish the necessary components to each course. (February 2009)

b.      Provide all deans and department heads with copy of the common lower division mechanical engineering courses. (February 2009)

c.       Evaluate the different courses between institutions to establish how the variations can be resolved to a common course. (February 2009)

d.      Develop a common lower division set of courses with which institutions can agree (March 2009)

e.       Ask institutions what Community college GPA would be required to be accepted into Mechanical Engineering at the university if the study completed the common curriculum. (April 2009)

f.       If institutions will require specific grades for individual courses, develop rubric to show institutional requirements. (April 2009)

III.  Invite Community Colleges to discuss common lower division engineering curriculum.

a.       Discuss existing AAS Engineering Technology and associated degrees.  (May 2009)

b.      Provide proposed common lower division mechanical engineering curriculum. (May 2009)

c.       Discuss the differences between the common curriculum and the existing AAS degrees. (May 2009)

d.      Identify courses in the common curriculum which are not offered at community colleges. (May 2009)

e.       Identify courses in the common curriculum for which lab space or equipment is not readily available in community colleges. (May 2009)

f.       Provide the common components to common curriculum courses in engineering and math and compare them to existing similar courses at community colleges. (May 2009)

IV.   Bring faculty from community colleges and university programs together to develop appropriate syllabi and course content for new community college courses or revised courses required for common curriculum.  (June 2009)

V.    Identify development strategies for alternative delivery models (i.e. distance education, etc.) for common curriculum courses which may not be offered regularly at individual community college campuses.  (June 2009)

VI.  Have a final meeting with all university and community college staff to discuss final language of common statewide mechanical engineering curriculum agreement.  (July 2009)

VII.   Have universities sign on to the common curriculum.  (July 2009)

VIII.  Have community colleges agree to offer the common lower division curriculum for students pursuing a mechanical engineering degree.  (July 2009) 

 


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