Chapter 9: When intuition misfires: a meta-analysis of research on performance-based funding in higher education
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State lawmakers looking to increase public university accountability have implemented policies which aim to monitor, reward and sanction schools based on completion rates. These policies have mainly emerged as performance-based funding (PBF) policies, which tie state appropriations to institutional performance and student outcomes. As of 2014, 26 states adopted a form of performance-based funding policy, with four more programs awaiting implementation. Despite the intuitive appeal of performance-based funding policies, higher education scholars have debated the degree to which these policies accomplish the intended goals. The scholarly record includes both studies that find PBF policies to be successful and studies that find no evidence of effectiveness. The existence of findings on both sides has led many to describe the body of work as ‘mixed’, with no real sense of whether these findings are trending in a particular direction. In an effort to improve our ability to speak holistically about this body of work, we conduct a meta-analysis which aims to aggregate and analyse the quantitative findings on the effect of performance funding policies on public four-year and two-year university outcomes.

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