SECTOR COMMITTEE GUIDELINES
I. The Task
The task involves three steps:
1) determining the weight of the indicator
2) establishing the benchmark or level of performance
3) applying the benchmark to institutions in the sector
These three steps are explained in greater detail below, with examples and
Following approval of Act 359 in the 1996 legislative session, planning for
performance funding began in July and August of 1996. The Commission named a
Steering Committee for the process, which is the Committee on Planning and Assessment,
a standing committee of the Commission. The Commission chair named three task
forces (Academics, Planning/Institutional Effectiveness, and Administrative Management)
to develop measurers for the 37 indicators and report their recommendations back
to the Steering Committee..
The task forces completed their work on September 18, 1996, and the Steering
Committee approved the task force recommendations, with only minor changes, at
its meeting on September 24. The Commission approved the Steering Committee's
recommendations on October 3, with the exception of referring the measure for
indicator VII. A, graduation rate, to the staff for further analysis and subsequent
action by the Steering Committee at its meeting on October 17, 1996. One other
indicator, VI. C, post-secondary non-academic achievement of student body, was
not acted on by the task force and will also be considered by the Steering Committee
on October 17..
The second phase of the planning process involves developing benchmarks and
applications for the measures. The Commission chair has named four "sector
committees" to do this work and report to the Steering Committee in December.
There is one committee for each of the four sectors or types of higher education
institutions identified in Act 359:
Four-year colleges and universities
Two-year institutions--branches of USC
State technical and comprehensive education system
The sector committees are to report to the steering committee on December 3, 1996.
The legislation provides for a phase-in period in 1997-98 and 1998-99 before
performance funding is fully implemented in 1999-2000. During the phase-in period,
institutions are "held harmless"; their funding will not decrease below the 1996-97
level as a result of implementing performance funding. Data will be available to
implement 15 of the measures in 1997-98. Other measures will require more time
before data can be obtained.
III. Explanation of the Task
The three steps in the process are explained below, with examples:
1) Determining the weight of the indicator
This task involves assigning relative values to each of the indi cators. The
question is, How much should this indicator count, compared with others? The
answer to this question should be expressed in a percentage, so that the value of
all the indicators for that sector will total 100%. The committee should keep in
mind that the nine critical success factors are listed in priority order in the
legislation, with the first one, mission focus, having the highest priority.
Example 1, Indicator VII. A (Graduation rate). What weight should this indicator
carry for institutions within the sector? Another way to phrase the question is, On
a scale from 0 to 100, how important is this indicator in assessing the overall
quality of the institutions within the sector?
Example 2, Indicator IX. A (Financial support for reform in teacher education).
What weight should this indicator carry for institutions within the sector? This
indicator would seem to apply only to institutions which have teacher education
programs, so a weighting of 0% might be appropriate for some sectors.
The committee might wish t o proceed by first looking briefly at all the measures
and the relevant materials in the notebooks and then determining, as a starting
point, the relative wei ght of each by categorizing each one as having a high,
medium, or low relative weight compared to the other measures. After all the other
work of the committee is completed, it should return to the question of weighting
and assign a specific percentage for each of the indicators, totaling 100%. Use
the form provided for each indicator to record the recommended percentage of weight
and the rationale.
2) Establishing the benchmark or level of performance
After the initial determination of relative weight has been completed,with a
tentative assignment of "high," "medium," or "low" to each indicator, then the
committee should determine for each indicator the benchmark or level of performance
that will result in a designated percentage of funding. The question is, what
level of performance results in what percentage of funding? This task will vary
from one indicator to another, as the examples below indicate. This is because
some measures are a simple "yes/no," while others involve a degree of meeting or
exceeding a level, and still others involve a comparative ranking of institutions
within the sector.
Example 1: Indicator I. C (Approval of a mission statement). The measure is the
approval by the Commission of a mission statement. This is clearly a "yes/no,"
and presumably approval would result in 100% of the funding available for that one
Example 2: Indicator V. A (Percentage of administrative costs as compared to
academic costs). In this case, there is a numerical measure. The question is, what
ratios would result in what percentage of funding?
Example 3: Indicator II. C (Post-tenure review for tenured faculty). The measure
here is a ranking of institutions within the sector, based on the extent of their
compliance with provisions in a "best practices document" approved by the task force.
The question is, what ranking would result in what percentage of the funding available
for this indicator.
Again, materials in the notebooks may serve as a useful starting point in
addressing this task. The committee's job, then, is two-fold. It is to determine
the appropriate level of performance and to determine the percentage of the available
funding for this one measure that would result from that performance. In some cases,
this means that one level of performance results in one level of the available
funding. In others, several different levels may result in a number of different
percentages of funding. The committee should assume that the same benchmark applies
to all institutions in the sector, unless there is clear and compelling reason for
exceptions. Exceptions will be handled in the next task, the application of the
3. Applying the benchmark to institutions within the sector
The final step is to apply the benchmarks to the institutions withi n the sector.
The question is, given this measure and benchmark, how should it apply to
institutions within the sector? In most cases the application will already have been
accomplished in the bench marking process in step 2, and no action will be required.
In some cases, the benchmark may not apply to some institutions, may apply in
different ways to some institutions, or may need refinement in order to be applied.
Example 1: Indicator VII. F (Credit hours earned of graduates). The measure and
benchmark are numerical and might apply equally to all institutions in the sector,
in which case there would be no further issues of application.
Example 2: Indicator VIII. A (Transferability of credits to and from the
institution). The measure and benchmark require a number of sub-measures to
determine the extent of compliance with "best practices," and some of these
sub-measures may not apply to some institutions or to some sectors, in which case
the committee will need to make a recommendation regarding application.
Example 3: Indicator VI. A (SAT and ACT scores of student body). This is a
numerical measure and benchmark which will not apply to all sectors.
The assumption should be that benchmarks will apply equally to all institutions
across the sector, unless there is clear and compelling justification to differentiate
among institutions. The committee should identify the benchmarks which might not
apply equally, and then hold any exceptions up to careful scrutiny.
III. General guidelines
The steps outlined above will take the committees through a complicated process of
analysis which must be completed within a short time frame so that the Commission
can report to the General Assembly in January. The committees should keep in mind
the following guidelines as they proceeds in their work:
1. Work within the allotted time frame, meeting as often as needed to complete
the work on schedule.
2. Provide opportunities for input from institutions and other constituents.
3. Share draft materials with institutional representatives and others who attend
4. Keep the language simple and straight forward in establishing benchmarks.
5. If the benchmarks apply differently to institutions within the sector, be sure
there is a clear and compelling reason.
IV. The Commission staff's role
The Commission's staff, headed by four directors, will support the work of the
committees. Michael Smith and his staff will coordinate the overall process and
support the Steering Committee. Gail Morrison and her staff will support the work
of two committees: the research universities and two-year branch campuses. Alan
Krech and his staff will support the state technical and comprehensive education
system committee. John Smalls and his staff will support the work of the four year
colleges and universities committee. The staff will support this work by
- scheduling meetings
- conducting research
- drafting documents
- raising questions
- analyzing materials
- refining phrasing
- distributing materials
- taking minutes
- putting information on the web page
- providing logistical support
Committee members should feel free to contact the staff for support. The Commission's
phone number is 803-737-2260.