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HE.06.16
September 25, 2006

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate
Final;Information

HE: 06.16. Report on the Illinois Board of Higher Education Meeting, August 15, 2006.

The BHE met at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology Wells from 9:10 to noon.  President Michael Horowitz said it is the largest professional psychology graduate school with over 1,000 MA and Ph.D. students in a range of applied psychology fields. He stressed the value Illinois receives from it and other private not-for profit institutions.

Action specific to UIUC: Approval of the Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance.

Chair Kaplan said the meeting would focus on efforts to improve the quality of leadership in public schools and efforts to create a longitudinal database of students from primary through higher education.  Ginger Ostro has replaced Elliot Regenstein as the governor’s liaison to higher education.  The BHE’s concern about containing energy costs continues with a report due in October.  HECA grants (with one exception mandated by legislative action) will be the subject of a special teleconference in September and not announced now. Director Erwin said a board committee will be formed as part of the strategic planning effort.

Faculty Advisory Committee Chair Curtis White (ISU) presented the FAC’s statement on strategic planning.  The BHE has important bureaucratic functions to perform and needs more staff and resources for this and to meet the demands of the legislature, governor and public for information and demonstrated accountability. Second, it has to envision a future that is different from current higher education.  He stressed the need to communicate the important role education in enhancing the quality of life in many dimensions.  He urged greater attention to life long learning and a focus on maintaining educational quality, noting that the focus cannot just be job training.

The other advisory committees largely addressed an element of the agenda and a desire to be involved in various planning efforts.  One stressed that some educational benefits are not easily measured and often appear only years later.  

The first major report was by a BHE commission established in August 2005 to examine school leader preparation in Illinois—essentially principals for P-12.  The report said, “Student achievement in Illinois is in crisis,” and called for improved “preparation programs to produce the highly qualified leaders we need to improve student achievement.”  The focus was the need to improve college programs intended to prepare principals for their work.  Recommendations included more stringent admission criteria, targeted recruitment, paid internship programs, rigor in assessing candidates, tougher certification exams, rigorous assessment of current preparation programs and funding of needed elements.  State Education Superintendent Dunn said the statement that student achievement in Illinois is in crisis neglected recent test score improvements.  He saw a need for a variety of certificate programs linked to particular leadership roles. Finally, he said that hiring of principals is dictated by the “politics of the community.”  The implications the report holds for colleges of education are unclear without further action regarding implementation. The report is on the BHE website in the reports and studies section www.ibhe.org.

The next two presentations focused on longitudinal data collection, an emphasis of Director Erwin and now of the BHE.  Many of the questions of the legislature and public cannot be answered given the lack of data tracking students through the educational system.

Aimee R. Guidera, Director of the Data Quality Campaign, made the initial presentation.  “Without data, you are just another person with an opinion.”  The focus is moving from data on groups to individual data.  The key concern, “Is the individual student successful.”  We currently do not know and cannot tell in the United States.  “Longitud-inal data follows the same student from year to year,” potentially for a lifetime. The data can be used not only to assist students but also to evaluate schools, teachers, etc. Only 12 states can match postsecondary education with earlier student records.  Illinois reported none of the essential elements for a longitudinal data system in 2005.  The Data Quality Campaign goal is a high-quality longitudinal data system in every state by 2009.

Jay Pfeiffer of the Florida Department of Education made the second presentation.  Florida has a highly developed longitudinal data system K-20.  Florida has a highly integrated public college system with common course numbers, directories, state standards, a culture of data sharing, statewide articulation agreements and a much smaller proportion of students at private colleges than in Illinois.  Data is available on employment, income, enrollments and movements in and out of higher education, in and out-of-state, etc.  The data, for example, show the earnings for graduates at each level of education from high school dropouts and alternate types of high school diplomas through various levels of higher education demonstrating to parents and students and legislators alike the value of getting and the cost of not getting an education.  National data cited shows those with less education do not continue to progress in average income and incur significantly higher unemployment levels.  He stressed the various uses of the data from demonstrating the success or failure of a given school to influencing public policy decisions.  Much of the data and its various uses can be found at http://www.fldoe.org.

The BHE moved through the remainder of its agenda in less than 20 minutes with no questions raised about action items and information reports noted rather than presented.

The BHE established an “Institutional and Program Approval Working Group” to revise policies for approval and review of new institutions and new program proposals.  This seems largely focused on proprietary for profit schools including some distance learning initiatives.

The item on setting a contest for fiscal year 2008 budget development noted funding for higher ed excluding pension contributions declined 8.4% between fy’02 and fy’07 unadjusted for inflation.  Capital projects declined sharply with no funds in fy’05, only $130M in ‘06 and $2M in ’07 and no new bonding authority for capital projects since ’02.  The improving tax revenues will not meet state needs in fy’08.  Additional spending is needed for Medicaid, health insurance, retirement funding and past shortfalls in pension funding.  The BHE is beginning the process of setting its priorities with institutional meetings starting in October and budget recommendations considered at its February 2007 meeting.  (The information report is on file with the Senate office and given to the Senate budget committee.)

In updates by various board members a letter was quoted saying any sale of a part of the Student Loan Fund would not adversely affect ISAC services.  There was no reference to interest costs.  Applications for MAP awards are up 4% and eligibility up 3.1% and further awards will stop the end of August, i.e., need continues to surpass funds.

The agenda and associated documents are available at www.ibhe.state.il.us/Board/agendas/2006/August/Default.htm

The next business meeting is October 10 in Grayslake with the BHE meeting October 9 to focus on IBHE Strategic Planning.

Ken Andersen
FAC to the IBHE Representative