Public schools, universities and community colleges across the state are investigating ways to reward better performing schools — but administrators say the economy continues to be a roadblock on the path to reform.
All three layers of North Carolina’s education system have looked into models that provide incentives for improved student performance and graduation rates, but no formal proposals have been adopted.
The push for accountability comes at a time of scarce resources for the state. Each school system has absorbed millions in state funding cuts in recent years, including a $414 million reduction for the UNC system in 2011-12.
McCrory would provide two pathways to higher education from high school — one for four-year college and university degrees and one for workforce training or community colleges. McCrory also wants to encourage degree completion for students through incentive-based programs.
McCrory does not plan to increase funding for higher education until the system is reformed to better utilize the resources already available. He would seek to better allocate resources through expanded technology use, sharing of best practices and a stricter capital expansion process.
Need-based financial aid
McCrory would examine the costs of state universities and seek to make financial aid more performance-based, specifically granting financial incentives to students who finish their degrees early.
McCrory favors a performance-based model for higher education and a merit pay system that rewards K-12 public school teachers regardless of seniority.
McCrory does not mention tuition increases in his plan but advocates for driving down university costs by expanding technology and sharing best practices among campuses.
Dalton wants to increase early college and community college programs that lead to degrees. Additionally, Dalton would expand the Last Credit Scholar program that waives admission fees for students close to completing a degree.
Dalton wants to restore funding to higher education by developing a performance-based formula that addresses the specific needs of campuses. He would also seek to better prepare students for college and restore funding to K-12 education by eliminating millions of dollars in tax loopholes and cracking down on tax delinquents.
Need-based financial aid
Dalton would offset any tuition hikes with comparable increases in need-based financial aid.
Dalton would create a formula to reward high-performing universities. He plans to increase K-12 teacher pay to the national average.
Dalton wants to make college more affordable and accessible by incentivizing degree completion, offering occupational loans to workers for obtaining community college degrees and granting in-state tuition to more student veterans. Any tuition hikes would be offset with aid increases.
In this year’s gubernatorial race, both Republican candidate Pat McCrory and Democrat Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton have expressed support for performance-based funding, though their platforms differ on how the programs would be implemented.
June Atkinson, state superintendent of public instruction, said her priority is to increase the base salary for K-12 public school teachers.