Assistant Professor of Higher Education Robert Kelchen has received a grant from the William T. Grant Foundation to study how performance-based funding policies have varied across states and institutions of higher education over the last 20 years – and how those variations have impacted outcomes.
Kelchen and his co-investigators on the study, Kelly Rosinger, assistant professor of education at Penn State University and Justin Ortagus, assistant professor of higher education administration & policy at the University of Florida, were awarded a $204,528 grant for their research, Examining the Impact of Variations in Performance-Based Funding Policies on Reducing Inequality in Student Outcomes.
In their research, Kelchen and his colleagues will create a comprehensive state- and institution-level policy dataset that represents variation in 20 years of performance-based funding policies across 35 states.
As noted by an article announcing the award:
Using procedures already in place to construct a dataset from publicly available records, the team will construct two datasets on performance-based funding (PBF) policies since 1997. One will contain state-level information on PBF policies, such as the dosage or intensity of a PBF policy (e.g., share of funding tied to performance) and the share of funds allocated toward equity bonuses. The second will break down PBF details to the institution level and will contain data on institutional characteristics, their reliance on public funding, and student outcomes.
This effort will provide detailed data that will allow researchers to more accurately analyze the degree to which PBF policies, which tie a portion of state appropriations for public colleges and universities to student outcomes, exacerbate or reduce income and racial/ethnic disparities in college persistence and graduation outcomes.
Ultimately the investigators aim to examine the impact of variations in PBF policies on college access, graduation, and post-college outcomes over time, particularly for historically underrepresented student populations.
"In spite of the intense research and policy interest in PBF, relatively little is known about what is actually in these policies," said Professor Robert Kelchen. "States vary considerably in how much money is tied to student outcomes, which outcomes (such as retention and degree completion) are incentivized, and whether there are bonuses for serving low-income, minority, first-generation, rural, adult, or veteran students. This grant will allow us to put together a data set that will allow researchers to formulate answers to the myriad questions surrounding the impact of performance-based funding in higher education."
Read the William T. Grant announcement, "Five New Research Grants to Build Theory and Evidence on Reducing Inequality."