Friday, March 24, 2006
The Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education has released a Discussion Paper on Assuring Quality in Higher Education: Key Issues and Questions for Changing Accreditation in United States. Here is part of the Introduction:
There has been growing criticism of higher education and the accreditation system and a growing debate over how to change accreditation. This growing debate centers around three major sets of questions and issues:
- Assuring Performance. How can the accreditation system be held more accountable for assuring performance, including student-learning outcomes, in accrediting institutions and programs?
- Open Standards and Processes. How can accreditation standards and processes be changed to be more open to and supportive of innovation and diversity in higher education including new types of educational institutions and new approaches for providing educational services such as distance learning?
- Consistency and Transparency. How can accreditation standards and processes be made more consistent to support greater transparency and greater opportunities for credit transfer between accredited institutions?
While the accreditation system has taken steps in recent years to address these issues, after almost twenty years of dialogue and debate, there is still no clear consensus on how to change accreditation to respond to these new demands.
Given the critical role of accreditation in assuring quality in higher education and providing a gateway to federal and state funding, the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education will, as part of its national dialogue, review the current system of accreditation and seek input from the accreditation community and other higher education stakeholders on how to change accreditation.
The purpose of this paper is to provide a basic understanding of the current system and propose the key issues and questions for use in this dialogue.
(Hat Tip: Inside Higher Ed.)