Monday, October 3, 2022
HomeEducationPostsecondary Accreditation Can't Grow to be a Race to the Backside

Postsecondary Accreditation Can’t Grow to be a Race to the Backside


By: Antoinette Flores, Senior Advisor, Workplace of Postsecondary Schooling

The Division of Schooling (Division) is dedicated to making sure that establishments of upper schooling (establishments) keep top quality requirements and powerful pupil outcomes. As a member of the Federal triad, which below the Larger Schooling Act of 1965 (HEA) requires the Division to work at the side of states and accrediting businesses to make sure oversight and accountability of postsecondary establishments, the Division expects this identical dedication from our companions.

“Accreditation-shopping,” the place some establishments hunt down particular accrediting businesses to keep away from accountability, has an extended historical past, beginning with scandals within the late Eighties that rocked the postsecondary panorama. That’s why varied provisions within the HEA and in Division rules present protections for college kids and taxpayers in opposition to this habits.

The purpose is to stop a race to the underside in high quality requirements amongst accrediting businesses and be certain that establishments can’t change to an accrediting company with much less rigorous requirements merely to evade accountability from an accrediting company that investigates practices or takes corrective motion in opposition to an establishment. For this goal, the HEA requires the Division to evaluation and approve an establishment eligible to take part within the federal support applications earlier than it might probably change its accrediting company or add an extra accreditor.

Latest modifications to the accreditation panorama, such because the growth of former regional accreditors to now accredit establishments outdoors their typical geographic boundaries and a brand new legislation in Florida that mandates public establishments to change accrediting businesses earlier than their subsequent accreditation cycle, have been complicated to establishments and may additionally have a chilling impact on accrediting businesses as they search to successfully do their job. Because of this, the Division has taken a recent have a look at the rules and seeks to make clear the method for establishments trying to change accrediting businesses.

At the moment, the Division is releasing a number of new steering paperwork to assist inform establishments and accrediting businesses about their tasks associated to those points. The brand new steering particulars:

  1. The course of that establishments should comply with if in search of to change accrediting businesses or receive accreditation by a number of businesses. This course of requires that establishments get approval from the Division earlier than they submit an software to a brand new accrediting company.
  2. A itemizing of among the elements the Division could take into account in evaluating establishments that goal to change accrediting businesses. These elements, that are meant to make sure that all establishments are held to excessive requirements, will assess whether or not the change is motivated by a need to enhance institutional high quality or evade rigor or oversight. The Division can even assess whether or not the establishment’s need to vary accreditors is voluntary.
  3. How accrediting businesses ought to exhibit that they meet the long-standing requirement within the HEA and Division rules that businesses have a voluntary membership of establishments in an effort to be acknowledged by the Secretary.

These clarifications are meant to make sure that establishments are held to excessive requirements, and that an establishment topic to oversight by its present accrediting company can’t merely search to evade accountability by leaping to a unique accrediting company.

The modifications additionally assist keep the integrity of the Federal triad and protect the accrediting businesses’ position in oversight as meant within the HEA. The Division goals to guard in opposition to a race to the underside and be certain that accreditation stays a voluntary course of, as required by legislation, and that establishments are usually not compelled to change in opposition to their will. The Division will proceed to work with establishments and accrediting businesses to implement these processes and protocols and to additional guarantee sturdy requirements to higher serve all college students.



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