Higher Education Accountability Act Part 1 Exposed

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The Higher Education Accountability Act was adopted by ALEC's Education Task Force at the States and Nation Policy Summit on December 8, 2007. The Act was amended by the Education Task Force at its Spring Task Force Meeting on April 30, 2010, approved by the ALEC Board of Directors on June 3, 2010. The updated bill is available as Higher Education Accountability Act Part 2. ALEC has attempted to distance itself from this piece of legislation after the launch of ALECexposed.org in 2011, but it has done nothing to get it repealed in the states where it previously pushed for it to be made into law.

CMD's Bill summary

This model legislation expands access to public information and requires that each college or university annually report to the Legislature about student and faculty engagement, student achievement, and institutional efficiency. Most governing boards already require a similar set of accountability measures.

ALEC Bill Text

Section 1.

To expand access to public information and be accountable to the taxpayers of the state of [ ], each public institution of higher education must annually report to the Legislature and in a prominent consumer-friendly location on its website, the following information on institutional profile, student and faculty engagement, student achievement, and institutional efficiency:

A. Institutional and student profile:

1. Institutional purpose and mission
2. Admissions standards
3. Clear, accurate, comprehensive and annually updated description of the student body profile including, but not limited to,
a. Number and percentage of students enrolled by residency
b. Incoming students’ average ACT or SAT score
4. Tuition, fees and total cost of attendance information
5. Affordability factors to include average student loans, percentage of students receiving financial aid, average financial aid dollars awarded, etc.
6. Crime statistics

B. Measures of Student and Faculty Engagement:

1. Percentage of lower division classes taught by full-time faculty
2. Average teaching load by discipline (i.e. credit hours taught per student)
3. Amount and type of general education courses required for each degree program
4. Critera for transfer to institution
5. Process for evaluating the effectiveness of each program and their desired student outcomes
6. Clear explanation of student outcomes expected by each program and how they are measured
7. Definition of what constitutes satisfactory academic progress for the institution
8. Percentage of faculty with terminal degree

C. Measures of Student Achievement: Freshman to sophomore student retention rates. Four, five and six year graduation rates. For purposes of this Act, graduation rates shall be based on the federal definition for the freshman-cohort rate (percentage of freshmen who entered during given academic year and graduated within four, five, and six years). Transfer rates

1. Percentage of students taking remedial courses
2. Average time to degree
3. Average scores on externally validated, nationally bench marked outcome assessments in core areas, including writing, mathematics, and general education, if applicable.
4. Measures of student satisfaction.
5. Measures of employer satisfaction.
6. Average scores on graduate school admission tests including GRE, GMAT, MCAT, LSAT, etc. and/or licensure exams including nursing exams, CPA, teaching, etc.
7. Admission rates for baccalaureate degree recipients into graduate programs.
8. Job placement rates by discipline.

D. Measures of Institutional Efficiency and Fiscal Condition:

1. Percentage of Educational and General (E & G) budget spent on instruction and academic support.
2. Percentage of E & G budget spent on research and public service
3. Percentage of E & G budget spent on student services.
4. Percentage of E & G budget spent on administrative support.
5. Percentage of E & G budget spent on operation and maintenance of facilities.
6. Ratio of administrative staff to total staff.
7. Measures of classroom and laboratory space utilization.
8. General Fund appropriations per in-state FTE student.
9. Total expenditures per FTE student.


1. Legislators should customize Act to account for and utilize existing data collection systems.

2. Data requested may not be applicable to all institutions in the state and legislators may wish to account for institutional differences.

3. In implementing the statute, state institutions should agree to and apply uniform reporting standards