Phi Beta Cons

Students Did Poorly, So Punish the Accreditor?

Many Americans harbor foolish notions about higher education, among them apparently that if many of the students at some school do poorly, the way to fix things is to punish the agency that accredits it. That’s the subject of this piece of mine on SeeThruEdu.

First, the American Bar Association is under attack because it accredits some law schools with low graduation rates, especially for minority students. Now, I’m no friend of the ABA or its accreditation standards that serve to create lots of make-work jobs and prevent efficiency, but it is not to blame for the fact that lots of law students fail to graduate.

Second, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools is facing the hangman because it accredited Corinthian (now defunct) and still accredits lots of low-tier institutions that have generally poor student outcomes. Again, however, if students fail to do what is required of them to pass courses, that’s neither the fault of the school nor the accrediting agency. It’s the fault of the students. Some schools get a high percentage of weak, disengaged, distracted students who just aren’t up to the challenge, but it doesn’t help to kill off the accreditor.

What we need to kill off is easy government financing that lures in many students who should not be in law school or college.

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

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