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General Laws

Section 7A. (a) In order to promote accountability for effective management and stewardship of public funds and to achieve and demonstrate measurable educational outcomes, the institutions shall certify achievement of public higher education accountability objectives through a performance measurement system. The board of higher education, in this section called the board, in consultation with the institutions and the secretary, shall develop the system, including specific performance measures, with which to evaluate the institutions and with which to compare them with peer institutions with similar missions in other states. The board may conduct regional public hearings on the measures proposed to be incorporated into the system.

(b) The board, in consultation with the presidents of the state universities and community colleges, shall identify peer institutions for the state universities and community colleges. The higher education accountability objectives shall include, but not be limited to, the following: (1) making public higher education more affordable; (2) improving student access and academic achievement; (3) recruiting qualified students; (4) responding to specific needs of the workplace, as defined by business and labor; (5) providing policy research addressing the needs of the commonwealth and local communities; (6) ensuring cost-effective use of resources at each institution and across all institutions, and manage campuses as efficiently as possible; (7) promoting collaboration among the campuses and with the private sector; (8) supporting early childhood to grade 12 education programs; and (9) maximizing fundraising from private sources.

(c) In order to measure the achievements and expected outcomes of the commonwealth’s system of public higher education, the board shall form separate task forces for the state university and community college segments consisting of presidents or their appointees and members of boards of trustees of the institutions.

(d) For each of the accountability objectives, the board, in consultation with each task force, shall establish and annually evaluate intelligible performance measures and identify data items that shall be obtained for each performance measure. Data shall be collected and analyzed on a campus, segmental and systemwide basis; provided, however, the board in consultation with the campuses shall establish definitions for all data items used in the performance measurement system.

(e) In order to achieve the accountability objectives of cost-effective use of resources and efficient fiscal management of the institutions, each task force shall match or improve upon standards established by National Association of College and University Business Officers. The performance measurement system shall be regularly evaluated and revised by the board in consultation with the institutions and the secretary to ensure that it continues to measure the achievements and expected outcomes of the commonwealth’s public higher education system. Accountability objectives, performance measures and data items shall be submitted to the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on higher education.

(f) The board shall use accountability objectives, performance measures and each institution’s mission implementation plan to conduct annual evaluations of the performance of each institution. If an institution fails to meet a reasonable number of the accountability objectives, as determined by the performance measures, within a given year, the institution’s board of trustees shall develop and implement a performance improvement plan and timetable to be approved by the board of higher education. Each plan shall be submitted to the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on higher education. If the institution fails to achieve the agreed to targeted improvements and timeline, funds appropriated for the institution in the following fiscal year shall be disbursed by the board of higher education to the institution’s board of trustees subject to the board’s approval. The board shall not be prevented from amending the institutional allocation of any such institution.

(g) Not later than January 1 of each year, the commissioner of higher education shall submit to the governor and the general court a condition of higher education report which details the condition and performance of each public higher education institution.

(h) The commissioner shall structure her staff and financial resources to provide technical assistance to institutions to help them identify problems and assist them with formulating and implementing plans to meet the accountability measures.

(i) The board of trustees of the University of Massachusetts shall develop a performance measurement system for the university, in consultation with the secretary and the board of higher education. The objectives of the performance measurement system shall be: (1) to promote student access and affordability; (2) to recruit qualified undergraduate and graduate students; (3) to promote student success; (4) to pursue theoretical and applied research, scholarship and creative activity; (5) to contribute to the economic development of the commonwealth; (6) to support early childhood to grade 12 education programs; (7) to provide policy research addressing the needs of the commonwealth and local communities; (8) to ensure cost-effective use of resources; and (9) to maximize fundraising from private sources. The system shall include performance indicators for each of these purposes and identify data to be used in measuring performance. The board of trustees shall compare institutional performance with the performance of peer institutions with similar missions as part of its evaluation process.

(j) The university, in consultation with the secretary, shall adopt an implementation plan and timetable for meeting performance measures established by the system. The board of trustees shall report annually to the secretary, the governor and the general court on the results of the performance measurement system, including recommendations for improvements to the system and for achieving improved levels of performance where necessary.

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