Accreditation Panel Issues Higher Ed Act Suggestions

December 12, 2014

The federal panel tasked with advising the U.S. Department of Education on accreditation issues on Thursday released a draft set of recommendations for changing accreditation during reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity has been working on an updated set of recommendations since earlier this year. The panel previously made a series of recommendations in 2011 and 2012, but the Education Department has asked members of the committee to update those documents.

“This is not a final document in any sense,” said Susan Phillips, who chairs the panel and is vice president for strategic partnerships of the State University of New York at Albany and senior vice president for academic affairs of the SUNY Health Science Center in Brooklyn. She said the panel would continue working on the recommendations with the goal of producing a more final product during its next meeting in June.

Among the ideas in the draft recommendations:

  • Convert all accrediting agencies into national accreditors and eliminate regionally focused ones.
  • Allow for alternative accrediting organizations.
  • Simplify the recognition process for accreditors by establishing common definitions across various different accrediting agencies
  • Allow NACIQI reviews to be focused on “the health and well-being and the quality of institutions of higher education and their affordability, rather than on technical compliance with the criteria for recognition.”
  • Give accrediting agencies greater authority to create different tiers of approval of institutions.
  • Require colleges to produce self-certified data on “key metrics of access, cost and student success” (such as dropout rate, student loan burdens, repayment rates, and job placement rates for vocational programs).
  • Establish a range of accreditation statutes that provide differential access to Title IV funds, which would move away from the current “all or nothing” system.
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