ERIC Number: EJ775140
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Reference Count: 0
Institutions, Accreditors, and the Federal Government: Redefining Their "Appropriate Relationship"
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, v39 n5 p16-23 Sep-Oct 2007
For almost two years, a major effort has been under way to redistribute responsibility and authority for ensuring academic quality in higher education among the federal government, accreditors, and institutions. The primary target for these efforts has been the community of federally recognized accrediting organizations, and the primary goal has been to establish federal standards for defining and judging academic quality, a task heretofore left to institutions working with accrediting organizations. If successful, this author states that this effort will fundamentally undermine key features of higher education, especially its long history of self-governance and self-regulation. She asserts that a newly calibrated relationship is needed, and offers five suggestions to provide a foundation on which to establish it: (1) The federal government needs to publicly reaffirm, whether through a resolution or in law, the leadership role of higher education in defining and judging academic quality and to acknowledge the importance and value of self-governance and the self-regulatory system of accreditation; (2) The federal government needs to reconsider its oversight role in accreditation, either eliminating that role entirely or overhauling the recognition function; (3) Institutions need to accelerate and enrich current efforts to produce evidence of performance, make this evidence available to the public, and accelerate efforts to address comparability among institutions and threshold expectations of quality; (4) Accrediting organizations also need to quickly address these accountability issues and strengthen practices needed to ensure that accreditation standards addressing them are rigorously enforced; and (5) Institutions and accrediting organizations need to join forces to launch a compelling new symbol of their leadership in defining and judging quality in order to demonstrate their commitment to public accountability.
Descriptors: Higher Education, Relationship, Federal Government, Accreditation (Institutions), Professional Autonomy, Role of Education, Institutional Role, National Standards, Evaluation, Educational Quality, Goal Orientation, Accountability
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A