The senior college commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges has approved a new set of policies aimed at giving the regional accreditor a greater role in assuring the academic quality of its members. Under the policies endorsed this month, WASC will begin external reviews of the retention and graduation rates of the colleges it accredits, and will post the action letters and team reports that result from its every-five-year reviews beginning next June. The agency will also require all institutions to show that their graduates have achieved institutionally defined "levels of proficiency" in written and oral communication, quantitative skills, critical thinking and information literacy, and to define the learning outcomes of each degree it offers.
The commission considered, but could not reach agreement on, a proposal that would have required each accredited institution to benchmark its outcomes in two of those five areas against other colleges. Discussion about that reform and others is continuing.