The U.S. Department of Education this week introduced several new requirements for accreditors, adding to the slightly beefed-up new rules it announced in November. The department has pushed more aggressive reforms to the accreditation process, including a request for the U.S. Congress to drop its ban on imposing specific standards on accreditors. But those ideas are unlikely to come to fruition during the Obama administration's final year.
This week the department said it would require accreditors to provide more information to the feds -- and to the public, when possible -- about sanctions the agencies slap on colleges, including the reason for those sanctions. The department also will require accreditors to separate their reporting of punitive actions against colleges from the other information they submit to the federal government, such as when colleges receive renewal of their accreditation status.
"Agencies need to do more than certify that institutions make quality offerings available; they must gauge the extent to which the institutions actually help more students achieve their goals," Ted Mitchell, the Under Secretary of Education, wrote in a blog post. "And because of our belief in the importance of equal opportunity to learn and achieve, that means strong outcomes for all students, not just some."
Other new requirements announced this week generally revolve around more coordination and basic communication. For example, accreditors will meet more regularly with the department and share information about "schools of concern."