Call it a general Reveille.The Texas A&M University System has unveiled a plan for using real-time data about graduation rates and other measurements to show how well component campuses are meeting goals for improvement.Officials are touting it as a tool for increasing transparency and accountability. But it could be just as important in positioning Texas A&M schools for the movement in Austin toward basing part of public university funding on the number of students graduated instead of on enrollment.A&M's data dashboard follows one that the University of Texas unveiled last year putting plenty of charts about its campuses online. But A&M Chancellor John Sharp said his system's version is different from those other universities are using because it has campus presidents setting their goals, determining how to reach or exceed them and then being held responsible for progress."I can see whether my presidents have met their goals," Sharp said during a Tuesday meeting with the Star-Telegram Editorial Board.A key element of the program, called EmpowerU (empoweru.tamus.edu) is tracking how each campus progresses on graduating students within four years and six years. The flagship campus in College Station, for example, aims to increase its 50.9 percent four-year graduation rate to 60 percent by 2015.Texas A&M-Galveston aims to go from 17.8 percent to 24 percent. The online data also allow searching by specific student groups, such as what percentage of Hispanic females have graduated within four years from Texas A&M-Kingsville.Each A&M institution has also determined a peer group of universities to be measured against. Prairie View A&M, for example, is compared to 16 schools ranging from the University of Texas at Arlington to Jackson State and falls in the bottom third for bachelor's and master's degrees awarded in 2010. Tarleton State is fourth in an 11-member group that includes Sam Houston State, Texas Woman's and A&M components in Commerce, Corpus Christi and Canyon.Degrees conferred by the main A&M campus put it in the middle of a 20-school peer group that includes the University of Florida, UT Austin, Michigan State and four University of California campuses.Possibly the most-intriguing aspect of the program is a commitment to improving teacher education at all 10 A&M campuses with schools of education, in hopes of better preparing students for college by the time they finish high school.A quarter of Texas public school teachers have graduated from A&M schools, officials said, and teacher feedback indicates that the best place to get teachers ready for the next generation of students -- many of whom live in poverty -- is in elementary science, technology and math. The system also aims to step up classroom management training for new teachers and try to attract more top-level students into a field that often is seen as a default major."The teaching profession is revered in other countries. We've got to get back to that in this country," A&M Trustee Elaine Mendoza told the Editorial Board.The coordinated emphasis on pulling together data to show the public what universities are doing is not just something taxpayers are entitled to for their investment. It's smart governance."What gets measured gets done," Mendoza said.Gov. Rick Perry and key legislators have been pushing for new ways of allocating higher education dollars. While their motives and methods are matters of intense debate, it's clear that institutions are going to have to justify the increasing costs of getting a college degree. A&M officials said they're prepared for "outcomes-based" funding. They'd better be, because it will be part of the conversation when the Legislature convenes in January.