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August 24, 2012 11:00 AM Pay for Performance in Texas

By Daniel Luzer

Texas, reflecting yet again its enthusiasm for “metrics-based performance” for education matters, has introduced a new plan to pay top administrators.

According to a piece in the Austin American-Statesman:

Presidents at the University of Texas System’s 15 campuses will be able to earn bonuses for increased graduation rates or donation hikes under an incentive plan approved Thursday that’s more commonly seen in the corporate world than the academic one.
The Board of Regents voted to begin implementing the pay-for-performance initiative, which calls for university leaders to be eligible to earn an additional 10 percent on top of their base salaries if they meet certain goals. Officials now have 60 days to figure out the details.

The UT chancellor apparently plans to meet with individual administrators to determine what factors they’ll use to evaluate the officials on one-year and three-year time frames.

Given the concern many critics have over administrative pay, it’s not an entirely inappropriate idea—though, granted, it has nothing to do with student learning or scholarship, the ostensive purposes of a university—but some of the details seem a little weird.

Isn’t a three-year time frame pretty short if one really wants to evaluate administrative effectiveness? Wouldn’t we need a lot more time to tell if a college president is really doing a good job?

Furthermore, why should the state be offering administrators more money for this? If a college president can’t raise money and his graduation rates are low, shouldn’t the chancellor just fire him?

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer