UM System's Accountability Measurement System provides transparency, focus

Sunday, February 21, 2010 | 5:36 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The University of Missouri System wants to show transparency while its universities work toward three-year goals, which could extend to a longer period of time.

In an attempt to promote accountability and transparency, the UM System has developed the three-year Accountability Measurement System, a document that lists 80 of the system's goals and will show how far it's gotten in completing them. It is scheduled to go online in December.

Not all of the accountability measures have a specific target to hit, such as measures concerning affordability and faculty and staff diversity.

“Those measures allow us to evaluate and analyze trends over time,” MU Deputy Provost Ken Dean said. “For some measures, goals are not appropriate, but the direction is more important.”

Based on progress, each measure will receive a rating based on a familiar item: traffic lights. Green means the university has reached or exceeded its target, yellow means progress is being made and red means no progress has been made.

Nikki Krawitz, the UM System’s vice president for finance and administration, said the system will keep issues that need to be addressed on the forefront.

“The Accountability Measurement System is designed to keep the university system and its campuses focused on a mission and the important outcome it wants to achieve,” Krawitz said.

The measurement system is organized into five themes: teaching and learning, research and discovery, community service and engagement, economic development and developing and managing human, financial and physical resources.

Each measure, if met, will provide nothing extra for the individual universities.

“Currently, there is no incentive in place other than the desire to meet performance goals,” Krawitz said.

The initial run of this management system will last three years, but there is potential for it to last beyond that. Krawitz said new measures could be added and some could be replaced if the UM System decides to take this further.

In the event of not excelling in the manner expected, Krawitz said each chancellor would be held accountable and would have to speak with Forsee.

The glimpse of progress is also for the people affected by university actions: students, parents and those in the surrounding community.

“It is merely a way for us to be accountable to our main constituents and a system whereby we may set goals and measure outcomes,” Dean said.

The system sets the overall goal, but each university decides its own target for those goals. For example, the first-year retention rate targets for each university are:

  • MU: 86 percent
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City: 75 percent
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology: 90 percent
  • University of Missouri-St. Louis: 71 percent

Dean said MU officials discussed the targets extensively before presenting them to Forsee.

“Targets were made based on an analysis of past history, evaluation of current conditions and an informed realistic project into the future,” Dean said.

Overall, Dean said he thinks all of  MU’s targets can be reached within the three-year time span of the initial run.

However, Krawitz said some goals might never be reached, but some might be met before 2012.

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Ellis Smith February 22, 2010 | 9:33 a.m.

The targets for first-year retention are interesting. Note the difference between Missouri S&T and MU on one hand and UMKC and UMSL on the other hand. Does this difference reflect a situation peculiar to campuses located in metro areas?

A retention rate of 90% for what is essentially an engineering school is quite high, at least by national historic standards. Among other things it would require very careful selection of incoming freshmen. But this same campus has a self-empposed goal of becoming one of the nation's top public or private technical institutes - a goal that if realized at all will take years.

(Report Comment)
Bryan Richardson February 22, 2010 | 5:31 p.m.

Actually, Missouri S&T is close to its goal without having a highly selective process.
Missouri S&T's freshman applicant acceptance rate has been around 90% for the past three school years, and its retention rate is 86-87%.
Because of the type of school it is, those who apply and ultimately attend S&T have already focused on a major. Also, 39% of entering students were in the top 10% of their high school class and had an average high school core courses GPA of 3.5, all of which probably contributes to S&T’s high retention rate.

(Report Comment)

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