In 2007, Washington State launched an innovative performance incentive policy for community colleges, called the Student Achievement Initiative (SAI). The SAI uses data and performance funding to motivate colleges to implement systemic changes that will improve student outcomes.
The SAI’s model seeks to address some of the shortcomings of previous state higher education performance incentive policies and has attracted interest from policymakers and funders nationally. This brief draws on early observations from an ongoing evaluation of the SAI, and research on performance funding policies in other states, to inform states about using state policy levers to meet ambitious state and national goals for college attainment.
The brief calls particular attention to a number of policy choices that the Washington community and technical college system faced as it designed and began to implement the SAI across its 34 colleges. These are choices that policymakers and college leaders will have to confront should they design and enact performance incentive policies in their own states.