What Do We Expect of Accreditation?

July 20, 2010

Judith Eaton, President of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, has an interesting piece in today’s Inside Higher Education on “Accreditation’s Accidental Transformation.”

The nub of her argument: “Academic quality assurance and collegiality — the defining features of traditional accreditation — are, at least for now, taking a backseat to consumer protection and compliance with law and regulation. Government and the public expect accreditation to essentially provide a guarantee that students are getting what they pay for in terms of the education they seek.”

Worth reading, as are the comments, including one from Charles Miller who chaired the Spellings Commission.

For myself, I am a fan of the idea of accreditation, of a collegial, professional approach to the assurance of quality. But I believe we have to take that idea more forcefully than we have.  At present, nothing is obliged to be made public about an institution except whether it is an accredited institution.  I believe we need to be prepared to make much more public.

For its part, Earlham voluntarily makes public both its accreditation self study and the report of its accreditation visiting team.

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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