Resolution Calling for Greater Productivity in American Higher Education Exposed

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The Resolution Calling for Greater Productivity in American Higher Education was adopted by ALEC's Education Task Force on July, 16, 2009, approved by the ALEC Board of Directors on August 27, 2009. ALEC has attempted to distance itself from this piece of legislation after the launch of in 2011, but it has done nothing to get it repealed in the states where it previously pushed for it to be made into law.

ALEC Bill Text


The [state] Legislature recognizes the need to increase and reward college completion rates while promoting efficiency and cost-effectiveness at colleges and universities and recognizing alternative, innovative forms of post-secondary education, including community colleges and the lessons of for-profit models.

Model Resolution

WHEREAS, global trends signal the need for transformational change in United States higher education to ensure adequate numbers of college graduates are prepared to contribute to the nation's economic, political, and social well-being; and

WHEREAS, the United States devotes a greater share (2.9 percent) of its Gross Domestic Product than any other industrialized nation to higher education but ranks third among these nations in the proportion of its population with associate's degrees or higher; and

WHEREAS, to restore U.S. leadership in degree attainment, the United States must reverse a trend that has the nation in a four-way tie for 10th for the percentage of its population between ages 25 and 34 with a college degree; and

WHEREAS, reversing this trend and increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality post-secondary degrees or credentials with existing funding will require a rapid movement toward efficient and cost-effective higher education; and

WHEREAS, room for improvement exists because the United States spends nearly twice as much per student in public and private resources as the average amount spent by other industrialized countries; and

WHEREAS, the United States ranks second internationally in the proportion of its population with bachelor's degrees or higher for those ages 25 to 64, but ranks eighth among nations for those with associate's degrees or less, a ranking which has declined in recent decades; and

WHEREAS, countries that have reached the highest overall attainment rates have tended to rely on associate's degrees and certificate programs to achieve much of their growth, allowing these countries to develop human potential at the least expense; and

WHEREAS, U.S. degree completion rates at community colleges and four-year institutions are below international averages, creating a high "attrition rate" that, if left unaddressed, could prevent the United States from improving its position internationally even if the country were to improve its ratio of associate's to bachelor's degrees; and

WHEREAS, without substantial policy changes, the United States will become less competitive globally because many other countries are doing a better job of providing opportunity for mobility for their secondary school graduates; and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that it is the sense of the Legislature of the State of [state] that the state should:

1. Increase and Reward Completion. The Legislature should begin setting aside significant portions of its higher education budget to reward institutions for students who complete courses and graduate in greater numbers at lower per-unit expense, such as through reducing time to degree, without diminishing quality.

2. Generate and Reinvest Savings. State officials should ensure efficient and cost-effective academic and administrative approaches are widely embraced and disseminated, and that cost savings are used to serve more undergraduates. Better coordination of tuition, appropriations, and financial-aid policies; efforts to limit the number of "wasted credits" that receive public subsidies; more efficient use of campus space and authorization of fewer building projects; and the outsourcing of non-core operations are all necessary steps to make the best use of available dollars.

3. Educate and Train in Affordable Ways. State officials should recognize the value of for-profit providers and community colleges, which are primarily open access systems that serve students at the least expense. State officials also should formally recognize higher education is a prime candidate for innovation, including entirely new ways of delivering degree programs cost-effectively. Whether public or private, nonprofit or for-profit, two- or four-year, higher education institutions absolutely must become more nimble, efficient, and responsive to the needs of students and American society.

4. Establish Measures to Ensure Higher Education is Meeting the Needs of Students, Businesses, and Other Stakeholders.

Approved by the Education Task Force on July 16, 2009.

Approved by the ALEC Board of Directors on August 27, 2009.