Accreditors that certify the worthiness of higher education institutions may have to change how they operate due to new uses of technology, changing rapidly student demographics, along with a growing resolve for competency based learning.? Inside a hearing held by the Subcommittee on Advanced schooling and Workforce Training, members from both sides of the U.S. House of Representatives aired grievances using the current accreditation system, reports Eric Kelderman in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Representative Virginia Foxx, the subcommittee\’s chairwoman and a Republican of North Carolina, suggests that an alternate accreditation system be designed to meet the changing landscape better education.
“If standards to determine quality continue to be based on so-called traditional programs and students of history, those institutions working diligently to innovate and serve the needs of today’s students … could be at an accreditation disadvantage,” Representative Foxx said in her own prepared remarks at the outset of the hearing.
Kevin Carey, Director from the Education Policy Program in the non-profit New America Foundation, believes that although the nation\’s six regional accrediting organization contribute in the US to manage institutions, they aren\’t prepared to handle evaluating the caliber of colleges as well as being a gatekeeper for federal student aid.
In order for a college\’s students to become eligible for federal student aid, including subsidized student loans and Pell Grants, colleges must be accredited by a federally-recognized evaluation body.
“The accreditation system didn\’t stand by and permit costs to skyrocket and standards to decline because accreditors are indifferent to those problems,” Mr. Carey said. “They did it because the accreditation system is not equipped to resolve these problems. It never continues to be, and never will be, as currently designed.”
Anne D. Neal, President from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni,? believes that the accreditation process is too expensive for new colleges and too burdensome for existing colleges.
She suggests separating accreditation and federal student aid, and also proposes that colleges give a basic set of information to the public including price of attendance, graduation rates, job-placement rates, degree programs offered, and student-loan default rates. This would allow students and their families to be able to make a better-informed decision on where to apply and also to attend college.
The current accreditation system was defended by its representatives. They said that they were answering recent education changes and were prepared to meet new demands in the public and lawmakers.