Daniel de Vise's Feb. 20, 2011 Sunday Magazine story, "Eight ways to get higher education into shape," adds to an important and timely discussion regarding the future of higher education, but only scratches the surface in terms of explaining the vital role that national accrediting bodies currently play in measuring student achievement.
While it's true that any effort to require standardized student-learning assessments at the college level would spark significant debate, it's somewhat of an understatement to say that accreditors could fill the current void – mostly because that is exactly what accreditors do.
As the largest national accreditor of career colleges, ACICS measures a host of educational-quality factors, such as rates of retention and job placement in a student’s field of study, student satisfaction, employer satisfaction and other direct indicators of student learning such as pass rates on professional certification and licensure examinations. If institutions don't measure up, they may lose accreditation and access to federal funding.
Regrettably, the higher education debate has been overly focused on imposing meaningless student-debt formulas that will only undermine the ability of accreditors to hold institutions accountable for the educational services they are required to provide. If policymakers are serious about enhancing educational integrity, they should start discussing ways to move us closer, not further away, from this goal.
Albert C. Gray, PhD
Executive Director and CEO
Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools