Office of Planning and Budgeting

NGA’s Complete to Compete Initiative Gains Traction

The recently announced National Governor’s Association initiative ‘Complete to Compete’ outlines a promising plan to create a national set of performance metrics to enhance accountability and shape funding strategies. The NGA, under the leadership of incoming Chair West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin III, convened a Work Group on Common College Completion Metrics to make recommendations on the common higher education measures that states should collect and report publicly. The goal is to improve college completion rates and overall productivity in a new era of fiscal constraints coupled with unprecedented demand for higher education. Reliable, comparable data within the sector will be key to achieving these goals as NGA and others attempt to identify which policies and practices are tied to successful outcomes.

The initiative has gained supporters across the country, including among the Higher Education Funding Task Force created by Governor Gregoire in Washington this past summer. Below is a summary of the proposed Complete to Compete metrics.

They use the following definitions:

Completion rate: The percentage of individuals who complete a certificate or degree (e.g., associate and bachelor’s).
Attainment rate:
The percentage of a population that has obtained a certificate or degree.
Productivity:
Awarding more higher education certificates and degrees within the same resources, while maintaining quality.

They recommend the following metrics:

OUTCOME METRICS:

  • Degrees awarded: annual number and percentage of certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees awarded;
  • Graduation rates: number and percentage of certificate- or degree-seeking students who graduate within normal program time (two years for associate’s degrees; four years for bachelor’s degrees) or extended time (three years for associate’s degrees; six years for bachelor’s degrees);
  • Transfer rates: annual number and percentage of students who transfer from a two-year to four-year institution; and
  • Time and credits to degree: average length of time in years and average number of credits that graduating students took to earn a certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree.

PROGRESS METRICS:

  • Enrollment in remedial education: number and percentage of entering first-time undergraduate students who place into and enroll in remedial math, English, or both;
  • Success beyond remedial education: number and percentage of first-time undergraduate students who complete a remedial education course in math, English or both and complete a college-level course in the same subject;
  • Success in first-year college courses: annual number and percentage of entering first-time undergraduate students who complete entry college-level math and English courses within the first two consecutive academic years; and
  • Credit accumulation: number and percentage of first-time undergraduate students completing 24 credit hours (for full-time students) or 12 credit hours (for part-time students) within their first academic year;
  • Retention rates: number and percentage of entering undergraduate students who enroll consecutively from fall-to-spring and fall-to-fall at an institution of higher education;
  • Course completion: percentage of credit hours completed out of those attempted during an academic year.

In order to track whether access to higher education is sacrificed in the name of completion, NGA also recommends the following ‘context’ metrics:

CONTEXT METRICS:

  • Enrollment: total first-time undergraduate students enrolled in an institution of higher education;
  • Completion ratio: annual ratio of certificates and degrees awarded per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) undergraduate students; and
  • Market penetration: annual ratio of certificates and degrees awarded relative to the state’s population with a high school diploma.

The UW has worked with the State for years in efforts to create a robust performance agreement. As those efforts continue, the influence of a national initiative such as Complete to Compete will be interesting to note.

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