Sunday, January 31, 2010


by Larry Gordon |  LA Times LA Now blog| Study:

January 28, 2010 |  1:33 pm -- California’s three systems of public higher education need to coordinate better, eliminate duplicate programs and make it easier for students to transfer from community colleges to Cal State or University of California campuses, according to a report released today by the state Legislative Analyst's Office.

The study suggested more statewide oversight to ensure that UC, Cal State and community colleges don’t take steps that harm the other systems. For example, the report says that Cal State’s recent move to cancel spring admissions is causing a backlog of students needlessly staying at community colleges and that the upcoming UC changes in admissions standards may cut into Cal State’s enrollment.

The report, called "The Master Plan at 50: Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts -- Coordinating Higher Education in California," said that too many decisions are based on the institutions’ pride rather than the state’s needs. So the study calls for reforms at the California Postsecondary Education Commission or replacing that agency with one that would better coordinate policies.

Fifty years ago, California established a landmark master plan for higher education that carved out different roles for UC, Cal State and community colleges, but the study says those roles are no longer clear. "California, which set the gold standard for higher education planing in 1960, now stands alone among sizable states in its lack of established goals, a statewide plan and an accountability system for higher education," it said.

-- smf:  The LAO report not only identifies a problem – and if identifying problems ever becomes a marketable skillset I will be a billionaire – it proposes solutions:

“These challenges underscore the importance of aligning the performance of the state’s higher education system with the state’s needs. Several states provide valuable examples of effective coordination leading to improved outcomes for students and states. Drawing on some of these examples, we recommend several legislative actions to improve coordination of higher education in California:

    • Adopt a clear public agenda for higher education, with specific statewide goals that can serve as the framework for an accountability system designed to align higher education performance with the state’s needs.
    • Strengthen several critical mechanisms of coordination, including funding formulas, delineated missions, eligibility standards and enrollment pools for each segment, articulation and transfer mechanisms, approval processes for new programs and sites, and accountability mechanisms.
    • Reform the California Postsecondary Education Commission or replace it with a new coordinating body to help create higher education policy leadership for California.

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