Obama proposes graduation bonuses

President Obama’s proposed 2015 budget includes $7 billion over 10 years to reward colleges that do a good job of graduating Pell Grant recipients. It also funds development of a college ratings system.

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  1. Stacy in NJ says:

    Dear President Obama,


    Just stop already.

  2. Roger Sweeny says:

    Business people fairly consistently say they are looking to hire people who can read with understanding, write a coherent series of paragraphs that makes an understandable point, understand basic math and graphs, and think and analyze at a more than elementary level.

    If the feds could assess that and pay bonuses to colleges whose Pell Grant recipients achieve that, it would be a wonderful thing. Colleges might again become agents of upward mobility rather than the barriers they are now.

    Of course, if the bonus is just for graduating, it is an invitation to game the system and further devalue the diploma. Maybe worse than useless.

  3. An very good way to get colleges to stop admitting high graduation risk students. Or an acceleration of the dumbing down of the coursework. Incentives matter. Cash incentives matter more.

    I was just reading a post by Megan McArdle on transparency this morning. In it she relates a CA program that rated cardiac surgeons on mortality for patient information. The result was the surgeons stopped taking on the patients with poorer prognoses. And we have the example of British NHS hospitals rated on patient wait times leaving patients in ambulances in the bay to avoid starting the clock.

    • Mark Roulo says:

      “An very good way to get colleges to stop admitting high graduation risk students. Or an acceleration of the dumbing down of the coursework.”
      Assuming that most colleges admit the best students that they can (with some allowance made for athletes, big donors, legacies, AA, etc), the way for most colleges to stop admitting high graduation risk students would be to shrink the incoming freshman class size. Do this by enough to matter, and you’ll be laying off college employees (teaching adjuncts, professors, janitorial staff, administrators).
      I don’t expect this to happen …

      • I do.

        The reason for this idiotic idea is that the previous, idiotic ideas – Pell grants, student loans and GI Bill money – have so distorted the market for higher education that even the proponents of funding increases without limit are starting to worry. After all, things that can’t go on forever…

        So the proposal is to establish a powerful, complex, inefficient mechanism, that’ll be a standing invitation for political meddling, to do what’s done by the free market for not a nickel in government funding. Yeah, that’ll work.

        From a political perspective this idea does have the merit of putting off the day when it becomes obvious to a large enough percentage of the population to matter that the answer to the problems generated by government meddling in the economy is less, not more, government meddling in the economy.

      • True, my money would be on easier grading and more crib courses.

  4. Michael E. Lopez says:

    And next on this week’s exciting episode of “Undermining Standards”, the Administration puts aside $45 Billion in incentive bonuses for bond rating firms that give approving marks to Treasury notes.

    Stay tuned next week as the PTA puts together an incentive package to reward teachers whose students aren’t given detention.

  5. Obama kisses public-sector union ass. Who has NOT noticed that politicians direct all performance incentives at system insiders and not at the people who actually do the work: the students?
    Unionized, tax-subsidized college faculty are well-paid, organized, articulate, and have a lot of free time. This gives them simultaneously the means and the incentive to defend their interests in the corridors of Congress and State legislators. Students, parents, and taxpayers lose.
    Credit by exam would bust this racket.

  6. SC Math Teacher says:

    I predict a 99% graduation rate for Pell Grant recipients. Don’t ask me why.

    • Thinly Veiled Anonymity says:

      Because, as a Math Teacher, you’re passingly familiar with economics and statistics?

      Wait, you said not to ask.

      • SC Math Teacher says:

        I’ve never understood using the graduation rate as a metric for anything at any level of education.

        • TWS Garrison says:

          High graduation rates should be an indication that the Admissions Office is doing a good job of giving offers to applicants who are a good intellectual and cultural fit for the campus and thus likely to succeed there. Whether that has anything to do with learning anything still depends on the school.

  7. $7 billion here $4.5 billion there (RttT), $35 billion-ish there (Pell 2012 fiscal); hey! – pretty soon we’re talking about real money.

    At least the budget is showing a surplus and the debt is being paid down and the economy is humming along; oh, wait …