Going for the Gold

Eric Johnson, Lanel Menezes, Tim Routier, Mikaela Walter, Keith White
Muma Case Review  •  Volume 4  •  2019  •  pp. 001-020
Dr. Ken Atwater, President of Hillsborough Community College (HCC), saw the email flash across his monitor, “2018-19 Performance Funding: Hillsborough Community College” sent from the Chancellor of the Florida College System (FCS). The email was 12 months in the making. In 2015, the Florida Legislature created the first performance funding-based incentive program in its General Appropriations Act (Laws of Florida Ch. 2015-232. (n.d.)). Proviso language required the State Board of Education to allocate performance funds pursuant to a performance funding model. The performance model had four performance funding metrics: retention, graduation, wages and job placement (see Exhibit 1).
This one message would answer a burning question that had been lingering in the college’s top administrators’ minds: Where would the college land in another year of performance funding? Atwater contemplatively read the email, “A Bronze ranking, again.” This Bronze designation meant the college was not eligible for new state distributed performance funds meaning almost $2 million would not be appropriated to HCC. Atwater asked himself “what needs to be done so HCC is eligible for this funding?”
The 2015 Florida Legislature inserted language into its General Appropriations Act creating the FCS’ performance funding-based incentive program. The direction of millions of dollars distributed throughout Florida colleges had been determined including a final ranking of Gold, Silver, Bronze or Purple for each college, with Gold being the highest ranking. This ranking determined whether HCC received millions in new dollars; money that in an environment of budget cuts to the entire FCS over the last two years would be extremely important to the students, faculty, and administrators across Hillsborough County.
Atwater knew the college needed to improve its score, thus allowing HCC to move into a Silver or Gold category. The improvement in the score to gain the additional dollars boiled down to concentrated efforts in providing the best education for students while equipping faculty with the right resources to improve effectiveness. Atwater thought, "Easier said than done. I am faced with the proverbial chicken before the egg or egg before the chicken. I may need funding to make the necessary changes to improve the scores. However, without the necessary changes to show improvement in scores, we will not receive the funding."
Regardless of the dilemma, the question had to be asked, "What strategies should be implemented to increase scores in the four performance metrics that the college would be judged on? Should the college expand tracking of the cohort of students that is examined? Should new student success initiatives be rolled out to help students?" Atwater wanted answers. He had approximately two million reasons why.
Community College,performance based funding, Florida
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