NAICU Washington Update

NACIQI Begins Special Accreditation Review

February 11, 2011

The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) began its year-long review of accreditation practices and policies with a two-day forum on February 3 and 4 (see Washington Update, 12/22/10).

Education Secretary Arne Duncan asked the committee to review accreditation with a view toward developing recommended changes to the Higher Education Act. The committee has chosen to approach this assignment by first taking a comprehensive look at the history and function of accreditation in the United States. To this end, they heard from over two dozen presenters who shared perspectives about accreditation from their vantage points as institutions, accreditors, academics, and the like.

NAICU was among the institutional representatives invited to testify. The NAICU testimony outlined our positions on issues that have figured in past reauthorization discussions - including student learning outcomes, public reporting, and the relationship between accreditation and government at both the state and federal levels.

The overall picture that emerged was that there are a number of problems with the current demands on accreditation, but no clear-cut means for resolving them.  Pressure to "do something" will remain, given that accreditors are now pulled between concerns that they are not doing enough to protect taxpayer dollars, and concerns that they are being asked to do too much in the way of federal enforcement.

Committee members began the process of winnowing the information and views presented, in an effort to frame questions for their next scheduled session on June 8.  Among the broad topics that the committee may explore further are:  ways to reduce regulatory burden; efforts to clarify the respective roles of accreditation, the states, and the federal government; alternative methods of organizing accreditation agencies; and ways to increase the amount of institutional outcome data available to the public.

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