The bold proposal to reform college accreditation

Panel issues draft recommendations

A panel advising the Department of Education (ED) on accrediting reform released a draft of recommendations that could factor into the upcoming overhaul of the Higher Education Act (HEA), Inside Higher Ed reports.

Related: What's next for higher education in the new Congress?

The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), which also released recommendations in 2011 and 2012, was asked by ED to update its suggestions so they can be considered during the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Susan Phillips, who chairs the panel and is VP of strategic partnerships at the State University of New York, emphasized that the recommendations were not final.

The draft recommendations include proposals to:

  • Make all accrediting agencies national, rather than regional;
  • Create new standards of quality, potentially from non-accrediting agencies;
  • Simplify the process of becoming an accreditor;
  • Make the accrediting process more holistic and less technical;
  • Require institutions to submit self-certified data on education outcomes; and
  • Reform the "all or nothing" rule of Title IV funding requirements.

The proposals were notable for the scope of reform they suggested. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported panel members sat in silence for nearly a minute after recommendations were read aloud at a recent meeting. Roberta Derlin, associate provost at New Mexico State University, observed "these recommendations silenced the group because they were bold."

Even so, the education secretary has ignored the panel's recommendations in the past, and there is uncertainty about what type of process will produce the next version of the Higher Education Act.

The committee plans to meet in June to update the draft recommendations (Inside Higher Ed, 12/12; Kelderman, Chronicle of Higher Education, 12/12).

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