NAICU Washington Update

CHEA Calls for Additional Disclosure of Accreditation Findings

May 12, 2010

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is proposing to expand the public disclosure requirements of accreditation results that must be met by accrediting organizations that seek CHEA recognition.  Increased public disclosure of accreditation findings has long been a point of contention between NAICU and CHEA.  Many NAICU members believe that making accreditation reviews public would weaken the rigor of the accreditation process, and could threaten more fragile colleges if publicly-released findings were misinterpreted by local news media.  The newly proposed CHEA language is ambiguous about the purpose of the new requirement.

CHEA made a similar proposal when it last revised its recognition policies and procedures in 2006, but withdrew it after hearing concerns from NAICU and others.  Congress also rejected numerous proposals to increase public disclosure of accreditation findings, except in the case of adverse actions, during the 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Commenting on the current proposal, NAICU President David Warren noted that such disclosures would weaken accreditation by undermining the frankness and candor that help make the process successful, and could do irreparable harm to small, vulnerable institutions.

Unlike recognition by the Department of Education, CHEA recognition does not play a gate-keeping role for federal funding eligibility. However, most accreditors seek CHEA recognition due to the peer-review opportunities it provides.

The proposed CHEA standard states:

"To be recognized, the accrediting organization provides evidence that it has implemented:
. . .

5. policies or procedures, as developed by the accreditation organization through appropriate consultation with institutions or programs, to inform the public of decisions on accreditation status and the reasons for these decisions;" [New language in bold.]

The proposed revisions were made publicly available on April 1.  In addition to the new public disclosure requirements, revisions are proposed in standards relating to international activities, degree and accreditation mills, financial decision making, interim reporting, and time periods related to the recognition process.  The full proposal is posted on the CHEA Website.

CHEA held a public meeting on the proposals on May 11, and is accepting comments on them until the end of May.  The CHEA Board will take final action on the proposals June 30.

Comments must be received by May 31, and may be submitted by mail, on line, or by fax.

Mail:  Council for Higher Education Accreditation
         One Dupont Circle NW, Suite 510
         Washington, DC 20036

Fax: 202-955-6129

On line:

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