ERIC Number: EJ1031453
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Reference Count: N/A
Ensuring Academic Standards in US Higher Education
Dill, David D.
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, v46 n3 p53-59 2014
The most recent research on college-student learning in the US by respected scholars such as Richard Arum, Josipa Roksa, and Ernest Pascarella suggests that the nation's means of ensuring academic standards in US colleges and universities are not working effectively. Like US K-12 education and health care, the US higher education system is not only the most expensive per person in the world but appears to be declining in effectiveness. As in these other policy areas, the US is locked in to a national framework for ensuring academic standards that works less well than some of the policies adopted by competing developed nations. What reforms to US accreditation may be suggested by best practices in some other countries? The critical policy questions are: (1) what criteria should institutional accreditation focus on?; (2) how should institutional accreditation be designed?; and (3) who should make accreditation decisions? In this article, the author addresses each of these questions and proposes that the government look to the National Academies--private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating societies of distinguished scholars--for the creation of an agency that would replace the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) within the Department of Education. He suggests that the new agency be tasked with specifying what academic information would be required from each accredited college and university, defining criteria and standards to be applied by accrediting agencies in determining eligibility for federal financial support, and approving each accreditation agency that would carry out this function. The author concludes that US colleges and universities, as well as the public interest, would be better served if the proposed new agency were required to be publicly evaluated by an established, respected, and truly independent national agency such as the US Government Accountability Office. The public, policymakers, and the regulated colleges and universities would thereby be provided with more objective assessments of the extent to which the new national agency ensures academic standards, and the national agency would gain greater insight into means of improving its own core practices.
Descriptors: Academic Standards, Higher Education, Educational Quality, Grading, Accountability, Alignment (Education), Accreditation (Institutions), Quality Assurance, Academic Achievement, Change Strategies, Educational Change
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Postsecondary Education; Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A