Colleges Pan Guidance on 'Program Integrity' Rules
March 21, 2011

The Education Department's new rules on the credit hour, state authorization of postsecondary institutions, misrepresentation and incentive compensation are being challenged on a range of fronts. But for now, the regulations are set to take effect on July 1, and the department late last week published guidance designed to answer the many questions college officials have about the rules. College leaders were generally unimpressed with the "Dear Colleague" letters, one of which covered the department's move to establish a federal definition of the "credit hour," and the other, regulations that expand state authorization requirements, crack down on misrepresentation of colleges' programs and results, and limit the use of incentive compensation.

"We appreciate that the department finally published" the guidance, said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, which had urged the department to rescind the rules on the credit hour and state authorization and has now asked Congress to delay their implementation. The guidance "clarified some of the things we were concerned about ... but in terms of the fundamental concerns, it doesn't help very much. Schools will find some relief, but not a great deal."

Russell Poulin, deputy director for research and analysis at the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, was even more critical in a detailed analysis of the guidance on state authorization.

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