Phi Beta Cons

New ACTA Study Shows Weakness in Accreditation System

Yesterday ACTA released a new study that highlights the weakness in our accreditation system.  You can (and should!) read the report
I particularly like the way it exposes the hypocrisy of the accreditation agencies when it comes to meddling and intrusion. They don’t want the Education Department to do it with them, but they do it all the time with schools: “While claiming, on the one hand, that assessing student learning would undermine institutional autonomy and diversity, accreditors have shown no such hesitation when it comes to matters of employment, productivity, governance, and trustee oversight.” 
I’ll bet that hits a nerve. 
Accreditation pretends to be about academic quality, but it isn’t and the report makes that clear.
Imagine that we had an accreditation system for automobiles. In each state or region, there would be an automobile accrediting association to which each manufacturer’s plant or plants would have to belong in order for it to be allowed to sell cars made there in the US. Instead of test driving the cars, though, the accrediting teams would pry into details of the company’s operation: Is the workforce sufficiently diverse? Are there acceptable grievance policies in place? Do the managers have appropriate credentials?Are healthful foods served in the cafeteria? Does the company have a five year plan for self improvement? And so on and on. 
Prospective buyers would say, “But none of that tells me if the cars are good.”  It’s the same with higher education accreditation.    

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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