This item from Inside Higher Ed escaped my attention until today. At the recent NACIQI meeting, Anne Neal put the representatives of the accreditation system through a tough cross examination.
Anne zeroed in on the fact that the most recent National Assessment of Adult Literacy report shows that many college graduates have pitiably low proficiency and asked “Do you have a baseline set of standards you would like (institutions) to meet, or do you leave that up to the institutions?” The representative responded, “There is no accepted minimum standard.”
Anne continued, “So basically, if an institution was having a 10 percent rate and thought that was good enough, that would be good enough for you?”
Answer: “That would not be good enough. The visiting accrediting teams set very high standards, and colleges bring out their own high level of expectations to that. Ten percent literacy is not something that any of our institutions would find acceptable.”
The story then goes on into other points, but I hope and trust that Anne followed up with the crucial question: “How would anyone know?” Few colleges if any require a demonstration of proficiency in reading to graduate and the accreditors do not make any effort to independently verify the competence of
graduates. As for the “high standards” they’re obviously a matter of wishful thinking when confronted by the truth that many college graduates leave school dismally ill-prepared in their reading, writing and math ability.