NAICU Washington Update

Top Education Official Recommends Approval of For-Profit Accreditor

October 15, 2018

Diane Jones, Principle Deputy Undersecretary, has recommended that the Department of Education renew the recognition status of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) for a period of one year.  Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is expected to make a final decision on the for-profit accreditor’s status soon. If DeVos accepts the recommendation, the Department’s approval would provide a temporary reprieve for ACICS and the institutions it accredits.

Jones’s recommendation to DeVos has proved somewhat controversial. In the document recommending the one-year renewal of ACICS’s recognition status, Jones cited letters of support ACICS allegedly received from nine other recognized accrediting agencies. Reportedly, however, most of those accreditors have denied submitting such letters. The Department has acknowledged the mistake and pledged to issue a correction, but critics have seized on the discrepancy to question whether Jones’s recommendation should stand.

ACICS has struggled to maintain its status as a recognized accreditor since 2016, when the Obama Administration denied its request to renew its federal recognition. ACICS sued, and a federal court granted a partial victory to the accrediting agency. Subsequently, DeVos ordered the temporary restoration of federal recognition for ACICS while she reconsiders the Department’s decision to terminate recognition of the for-profit accreditor.

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