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  What Are Some of the Problems with Accreditation?
Posted by: Administrator - 05-13-2007, 01:54 PM - Forum: Welcome to DL Truth - Replies (9)

What Are Some of the Problems with Accreditation?
http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/hie...ckeson.pdf

Quote:
The Need for Accreditation Reform

Robert C. Dickeson

Summary: Accreditation of higher education in the United States is a crazy-quilt of activities, processes and structures that is fragmented, arcane, more historical than logical, and has outlived its usefulness. Most important, it is not meeting the expectations required for the future. This paper distinguishes between the institutional purposes and the public purposes of accreditation, and suggests one significant alternative to the status quo.
...


What Are Some of the Problems With Accreditation?

1. America's reputation for quality higher education is in jeopardy of slipping.
  • The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development in Paris recently reported that, among its 30 member nations, the United States now ranks 7th in the percentage of the population that enters postsecondary education and then completes a bachelor's degree or postgraduate program. In large part, this statistic is due to higher education's dismal record at student attainment. Accreditation should identify and report on student success. By so doing, students and families can make enrollment decisions based on better information, institutions can be put on notice to improve student success rates, and policy makers can reward institutions that achieve high success goals.


  • The National Assessment of Adult Literacy, released in December, shows that the average literacy of college educated Americans declined significantly from 1992 to 2003, and revealed that just 25 percent of college graduates scored high enough on the tests to be deemed "proficient" from a literacy standpoint. What role should accreditation play in this shameful outcome? From what institutions did these adults graduate? If accreditation is to have any meaning, achieving standards of literacy - prose, document and quantitative - should be at the core of institutional approval by accrediting organizations.


  • Fully one-third of students enter postsecondary education needing academic remediation in reading, writing and/or mathematics. Accreditation should evaluate the efficacy of institutional admissions policies and practices: are institutions admitting students who have some reasonable expectation of success, or are they playing a numbers game for financial purposes? Has the inflow of under-prepared students resulted in a lowering of standards for graduation? Institutional assessment at the course level is undertaken through the assignment of grades, and yet grade inflation is reported as a national problem. What is accreditation doing to assure that quality is not suffering as a result?


  • A recent survey of 4-year college presidents revealed that 74.5 percent of presidents feel that "Colleges and universities should be held more accountable for their students' educational outcomes." Accreditation should transform this impression - shared by many in the public and by public policy makers - into reality.

2. The public's need for critical information is not being met.
  • Students and parents lack reliable information about college-going, including admission requirements, available programs, actual costs, the availability and extent of financial aid, and the range of accessible postsecondary options. Accreditation should insist on greater transparency by colleges and universities in the information they share publicly, and expect that the public has complete access to relevant data about college access, costs, attainment success and the extent to which standards were enforced.


  • Higher education institutions and their associations have ignored repeated requests for transparency by national commissions and higher education organizations (National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education (1997); Business-Higher Education Forum (2004); Association of Governing Boards Ten Public Policy Issues for Higher Education (2005), to cite a few). Accreditation should include transparency as a condition of continued approval.


  • Accrediting organizations do not all agree that the public either needs additional information or that sharing it is wise. Some accreditation leaders fear that more public disclosure will result in: an adversarial, rather than collegial, accreditation process; a smothering of trust critical to self-analysis; unwanted press coverage of school problems; and schools withholding information. Still other accreditation leaders deny the very existence of public demand for more information and point out that typical accreditation reports do not contain the kind of information that the public wants. Finally, some accreditation leaders understand that more information is necessary, and observe that other countries' institutions provide it without negative effect.


  • In the absence of accreditation providing information that the public wants, the void has been filled by U.S. News & World Report, whose annual analysis and rankings of institutions has become the most popular publication of that organization. Institutions that complain about the U.S. News approach to public accountability should insist that accreditation organizations fulfill this responsibility by asking the right questions - and publishing the answers.

3. Traditional approaches to accreditation are not meeting today's needs.
  • Technology has rendered the quaint jurisdictional approach to accreditation obsolete. Some standards actually vary by region. The rise of distance learning and electronic delivery of educational content across borders means that provider and student can be nations apart. Campuses and content today ignore geographic boundaries. More and more students are crossing state lines to complete their education and enrolling in multiple institutions, often simultaneously. Accreditation should refocus efforts on student achievement for the growing number who undertake alternative forms of education, and expand international quality assurance efforts.


  • Accreditation currently settles for meeting minimal standards. Nearly all institutions have it, very few lose it, and thus its meaning and legitimacy suffer. Institutions are not accepting credits from other accredited institutions, presumably because they do not believe that accreditation equals quality. Basing accreditation on truly rigorous standards and differentiating among levels of quality attainment would more accurately reflect the higher education landscape. If there were levels of accreditation, institutions would compete for honored spots (much as they do now for U.S. News rankings) and higher education's stakeholders could differentiate among institutions, depending upon stakeholder interests.


  • Accreditation is conferred typically for a ten-year period. Historically this term made sense when faculty volunteers were required to write self-studies and to perform site visits. The explosion of knowledge, the power of information technology and the pace of institutional change, however, have made a decade too long a period for timeliness. Accreditation should concentrate on key qualitative and quantitative measures that can be collected, retrieved, analyzed and published on a continuous basis.


  • Accreditation structure is archaic and contains too many layers and filters. For example, public concerns are expressed through elected officials, who communicate to CHEA, which communicates with accrediting organizations that communicate finally to institutions. The complaint process of the accrediting organizations is hardly user-friendly, and the stated policies about complaints make it clear that the accrediting organization will not interfere with institutional prerogatives. This process reflects the criticism that accreditation is the captive of the institution.


  • Most of the costs of accreditation in the United States are borne by the institutions themselves. Costs include the dues and fees paid to regional, national and specialized organizations, the released-time granted to faculty and staff who volunteer to serve accrediting organizations, and the labor and technical costs of conducting institutional self-studies. As institutions are under pressure to cut costs, conducting quality accreditation should not be diminished or jeopardized.


  • There is an over-reliance on volunteers in the important accreditation process. As institutions hire fewer and fewer full-time faculty, there are increasing pressures on such remaining faculty to fulfill on-campus duties and also meet external accreditation responsibilities.

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  OPM on Acceptability of Unaccredited Degrees
Posted by: Administrator - 05-13-2007, 01:37 PM - Forum: Welcome to DL Truth - Replies (17)

OPM Operating Manual on Acceptability of Unaccredited Degrees

Here is a link to the portion of the US Office of Personnel Management's Operating Manual pertaining to the acceptability of unaccredited degrees:

http://www.opm.gov/qualifications/SEC-II/s2-e4.asp

The language is a bit convoluted in places, but overall this document shows that the feds take a very broad approach to determining what is an "accredited" degree, making no distinction between NA and RA.

Also, they make a fairly realistic evaluation of unaccredited programs. Generally if accredited schools are accepting the unaccredited coursework the work will be deemed equivalent of accredited as well by the feds. And even if it's not accepted, it still can be used for ranking purposes as long as it is not from a diploma mill.

Accredited--As a general rule all "accredited" schools are accepted as meeting minimum qualification requirements. The term "accredited" is defined broadly. It includes "the entire institution, applicable school within the institution, or the applicable curriculum if it was appropriately accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education."

Thus not just RA, but also NA and any accredited curriculum, presumably even in the rare event that the institution itself is not also accredited.

"Correspondence or distance learning course work is also acceptable if the applicable school within the institution or applicable curriculum is accredited by an accrediting body that is recognized by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education."

Unaccredited--Non-accredited education may not be used to meet minimum education requirements, but still may be considered during the ranking process when evaluating qualified job applicants who already meet minimum qualification standards.

Most significantly, there also are exceptions which treat unaccredited courses as accredited if they are accepted for credit by accredited institutions. These exceptions include situations where "an accredited U.S. university or college reports the other institution as one whose transcript is given full value."

This in effect makes each accredited school an evaluator of unaccredited programs, at least as far as the feds are concerned.

Non-qualifying--This is unaccredited education that is not within the exceptions. This includes "diploma mills," but is not necessarily the equivalent thereof. "Diploma mills" are expressly forbidden from use in the ranking process, while "unaccredited" education is expressly allowed in the ranking process, so clearly they are not equivalent. They define "diploma mills" as those "granting degrees with few or no academic requirements."

So the bottom line seems to be four groups of institutions, with the distinctions between the groups gradually becoming more blurred as you proceed down the hierarchy.

1. Accredited--includes both RA and NA, as well as DoE approved program accreditation, such as e.g., PMI, even if the institution itself is neither RA or NA.

2. Unaccredited but accepted by accredited--treated as accredited

3. Non-Qualifying--unaccredited and not accepted by accredited
a. More than a few academic requirements--not accepted for minimum requirements but accepted for ranking
b. Diploma mill--few or no academic requirements--not accepted for minimum requirements or ranking

This document does make it fairly clear that (for federal employment purposes at least) any unaccredited degree that is not an outright "diploma mill" degree does indeed have some utility. Acceptance of such a degree by accredited schools increases that utility to the point that it is the functional equivalent of accredited.

Altogether this doesn't seem like such a bad deal. It gives no value to the clear fakes, but does give a value to the bona fide unaccredited schools commensurate with their value as perceived by accredited schools. It effectively lets the education community itself decide what is or is not equivalent of accredited, rather than some deviant bureaucrat. And it doesn't allow an unaccredited school to stand as the equivalent of an accredited one when it is not accepted by the accredited ones as such.

It's interesting to compare this system of evaluation with more oppressive and less thoughtful systems, such as we see in Oregon. The Oregon system is clearly substandard to that of the feds, in that it takes the approach that every unaccredited school is automatically a forbidden degree mill unless they jump through certain government hoops. In Oregon a bona fide unaccredited school that is accepted as such by accredited schools is treated exactly like a diploma mill. Clearly that is wrong, unfair, and serves no good purpose. All it does is limit competition and oppress the poor and working class people who most likely have the unaccredited degrees in the first place.

[Post courtesy of Degreeboard.com]

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  Regional Accreditation Outmoded as Quality Measure
Posted by: Administrator - 05-13-2007, 01:33 PM - Forum: Welcome to DL Truth - No Replies

DoD: Regional Accreditation outmoded as measure of quality

From the Sept. 2003 edition of The Military Educator
http://www.aspen.edu/downloads/Accreditation.pdf

Quote:Voluntary Education and Accreditation

Gary A. Woods, Chief of DoD's Voluntary Education Program


...Everyone knew that the system could not vet each institution to determine its quality every time a military student applied for tuition assistance. The system had to come up with a shortcut that would automatically indicate that the program an institution offered on military installations met a quality test--a test that would go unchallenged and not turn each TA application into an investigative quagmire focused on proof of institutional or program quality....

All concerned searched for a quality indicator that would pass the academic quality test. The litmus test of choice was an obvious no-brainer. A time-tested method already existed for determination of whether an institution passed academic muster or not. The litmus test of the `70s was regional accreditation, then the hallmark of quality in the academic community. Actually, at the time, it was practically the only game in town.

Regional accreditation answered the question concerning which institutions could or could not be invited onto military installations to offer academic programs. It also became the benchmark against which voluntary education staffs measured the ability to approve TA requests for academic programs military students were pursuing at off base locations. If the program wasn't regionally accredited, it didn't qualify for TA.

Regional accreditation, regional accreditation, regional accreditation. We pounded that quality benchmark into the minds and molecular structure of our education counselors and education specialists....It was now one of the academic purists. If a program wasn't regionally accredited, it wasn't real; it didn't count.

Everything was humming along. Ying and yang were in harmony. The planets were revolving around the sun with unquestioned certitude. Quality was good. Regional accreditation was quality. Thus regional accreditation was good. If it weren't regionally accredited, how could it be good? And thus TA became linked at the hip with regional accreditation.

TA and regional accreditation were good. Nothing else was good or could be good. Right? Wrong.

Wrong because of sea changes taking place in the academic world--and because of DoD's efforts to adjust to those sea changes. Other highly respected, non-regional accrediting agencies came on the scene. The National Home Study Council, now the Distance Education and Training Council, a highly respected national accrediting agency, among others, became mainstream. The Veterans Administration, now Department of Veterans Affairs, began to approve many nationally accredited programs for receipt of veterans educational benefits.

The voluntary education program woke up one morning to find that regional accreditation was no longer the only quality game in town. Given that, how could it continue to stick its head in the sand and refuse to provide one form of federal educational assistance for a program that another federal agency was providing federal education money to?

It couldn't. DoD proactively looked at the criteria listed in its Voluntary Education Instruction and changed the checkpoint that had long been the hallmark against which our Gatekeepers measured the quality and acceptability of existing academic programs. DoD decided that it no longer belonged in the business of determining what was and was not acceptable academically. A determination was made that role should be the purview of the department of government that had responsibility for education. To that end, verbiage in the DoD Instruction for Voluntary Education was changed effective 1999.

Tuition assistance would now be issued for coursework offered by institutions accredited by accrediting agencies recognized by the US Department of Education. Regional accreditation was no longer the quality benchmark against which local education staffs could determine tuition assistance eligibility.

...The bottom-line? Cautioned concern intended to save the student from having to repeat a course or a desire to limit to the fullest extent possible the repetitious outlay of TA funds for similar or like courses is okay-and still encouraged. But overt bias for an institution accredited by one accrediting agency over another, based on an outdated perception of what accrediting agency reflects the proper amount of quality, is not. As long as the institution meets the Department of Education test of quality noted earlier, that is sufficient.

...There is no time better than the present to ensure that this becomes as ingrained in our everyday thought processes and habits as did the quality test of the past. We must become the honest brokers and advocates for this new mindset and we must do so now.

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  Why You Should Fear the Accrediting Cartel
Posted by: Administrator - 05-13-2007, 11:29 AM - Forum: Welcome to DL Truth - Replies (1)

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/m...i_n8732901

Quote:Coming after U.: Why college should fear the accrediting cartel
Policy Review,  Spring 1995  
by Thomas E Dillon

A tiny "Great Books" college in California, tucked away in a mountain meadow, would seem an unlikely minuteman in a struggle for the academic liberty of America's colleges, universities, and professional schools. But so it is. Thomas Aquinas College, named for the 13th-century Italian saint and patron of Catholic education, was among the first to resist the imposition of non-academic standards by regional accrediting agencies. Now the accreditors, who grant a scholastic seal of approval--and with it, access to federal assistance--are hoping to consolidate and centralize their power over dissident institutions.

Armed with an agenda that includes politically correct notions of "diversity," an alliance of accreditors and Washington-based educrats is trying to establish a national accrediting body that would oversee every institution of higher learning in the country. No school that receives federal money would be immune from attack: By threatening to withhold accreditation, and thereby close off millions of dollars in government loans and other assistance, a centralized body could impose a political agenda at will.

This is precisely the lesson in the recent flap over the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which insisted that medical schools require training in abortion procedures or else forfeit accreditation.

If the move toward a centralized accrediting body succeeds, the private, collegial character of the review process will be in peril. Advocates of diversity and multicultural standards instead will be pitted against institutions striving to preserve high academic standards along with their own distinctive missions. The autonomy and quality of these institutions will be put in jeopardy.

This is not a hypothetical fear. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, a nationwide agency, recently voted for ideological reasons to deny accreditation to any obstetrics and gynecology program that fails to provide mandatory training in abortion procedures. A similar imposition of ideological mandates could occur if accreditation of colleges were centralized in one monopolistic organization.

Accreditation has long been a valuable process in higher education. Until recently, it has involved private, professional peer review to make sure that colleges and universities actually provide the quality of education they claim to provide. Now proponents of "diversity" are using the process to impose politically correct educational standards on institutions striving to preserve their distinctive missions. In the name of advancing diversity within each institution, they are imposing their own version of conformity and threatening true diversity among institutions. At stake is America's historical commitment to the integrity, quality, and independence of its colleges.

THE AQUINAS MODEL

Since its founding in 1971, Thomas Aquinas has offered only one kind of degree: a bachelor of arts in liberal education. Our curriculum is composed of the seminal books of Western civilization, and we are unabashedly Catholic. There are no majors, minors, or electives. There are no textbooks; we rely only on the original works of those who have thought deeply about man, nature, and God. There are no lectures; we hold seminars in which professors guide students toward an understanding of the authors before them. With its clear and distinctive academic vision, the college offers an exemplary version of a classical liberal education.

We pursue no "affirmative action" for persons or texts. We look for the best teachers, the best books, and students willing and able to undertake the life of reason. As Catholics, we hold that one intellectual tradition is superior, and we ask our students to study in that tradition, as well as to read prominent critics of that tradition such as Marx and Nietzsche. We are not about the study of "culture," as the word is used today; we will not base our curriculum on authors consciously selected for their race, gender, or sexual orientation. Whether the author is St. Thomas or Machiavelli, however, we are studying not the man, but what he has to say about the true, the beautiful, and the good.

Until the 1980s, schools such as Thomas Aquinas thrived under the nation's six regional accrediting agencies for senior colleges and universities. These accreditors respected their members' independence and judged them in light of their professed missions. Countries like France, with their centralized ministries of education, would not allow such an enterprise as this. America does, thanks to its tradition of non-governmental accreditation.

The latest mutation in the accreditation process is a story that we at Thomas Aquinas College know only too well. Every college and university in the United States must periodically submit to a review by one of these private accrediting agencies. Without accreditation, schools lose academic credibility among their peers.

The process in the United States has always been largely in the hands of private organizations of accredited schools. After World War II, however, the G.I. Bill and the growth of federal aid programs prompted the agencies to take on the additional role of approving colleges as the recipients of such funds. And as the gatekeepers of federal funds, the agencies in turn had to be approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

As schools became more dependent upon federal funds, the character of the accrediting agencies gradually changed. Control over funds gave them great leverage over colleges and universities. They became less collegial associations of institutions that testify publicly to the worthiness of a college, and more the rulers and regulators of these institutions. Now they are threatening to become the guardians of an ideological agenda and to advocate diversity standards and politically-correct curricula.

DIVERSITY OVER QUALITY

By 1988, with the rise of multiculturalism in academia, the threat was emerging in California. Our accreditor, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), began promoting more prescriptive standards. These included the following language: "The institution demonstrates its commitment to the increasingly significant role played by diversity of ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds among its members by making positive efforts to foster such diversity."

Stephen Weiner, the executive director of WASC, wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education that WASC's expectations for diversity "affect virtually every aspect of campus life, and, therefore, each of our accrediting standards." In one document, the new diversity policy is called "the cornerstone of a major new thrust." In other words, standards of integrity and academic quality no longer would form the sole basis for accreditation.

The new policy was part of a national movement among accreditors to leverage their influence over federal funds on behalf of the cause of diversity. Specifically, the accreditors wanted to mandate race and gender preferences in hiring and admissions, as well as multiculturalism in the curriculum, on the grounds that they are intrinsic to academic quality.

Colleges and universities began to worry about accreditation's new thrust. This concern was not without foundation. One school discovered that WASC evaluators were soliciting racial grievances from the faculty of a neighboring college. Another was told, in writing, that it had "failed to grasp the concept of diversity" and that its curricula would have to be "restructured." A third was ordered to alter the composition of its board of trustees and told that a religious profession required of its faculty was "not in conformity with [WASC's] expectations."

Colleges where multiculturalism, feminist studies, and the like had been matters of internal dispute, to be resolved internally, became vulnerable to meddling by outsiders with a political agenda. Moreover, the traditional purposes of accreditation--frank, collegial criticism and public avowal of academic integrity--were undermined by the mistrust generated by this new agenda.

The threat to our college was plain. If WASC meant what it was saying, it could not, in principle, accredit our college. In the eyes of the accreditors, Thomas Aquinas College is multiculturally incorrect.

In a lengthy struggle, Thomas Aquinas College confronted WASC's usurpations. We rejected the diversity standards when we came up for reaccreditation in 1992. The accrediting team of scholars sent to visit the college came away impressed with our high academic standards; in response, WASC reaffirmed our accreditation for eight years. When WASC circulated to its members a policy statement purporting to clarify its brief and vague standards on diversity, Thomas Aquinas College took the lead in raising objections and mobilizing opposition. Other institutions, including the California Institute of Technology, the University of Southern California, and Stanford, joined us in expressing alarm at the WASC statement. Although WASC formally adopted that controversial statement, it now requires colleges only to "thoughtfully engage" the issue of diversity.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Unfortunately, the story does not end there. Education lobbyists and bureaucrats, led by Robert H. Atwell of the American Council on Education, are launching a counteroffensive. Atwell cochairs an ad hoc group called the National Policy Board on Higher Education Institutional Accreditation (NPB), which advocates a national accreditation organization to police the regional groups and any possible competitors. It is being packaged as a way to resist federal regulatory overreach into academia. Don't believe it.

NPB is proposing an organization with unprecedented accrediting clout. It would set national standards for all institutional accreditors--in effect, all the agencies that the Department of Education uses to determine eligibility for federal money. The organization would be both "more specific" in its standards and "more rigorous" in its processes. It would establish its own budget, levy dues to be collected by the regional accrediting agencies, and wield the authority to impose sanctions against accrediting agencies that fail to enforce its standards. This would be the closest thing the nation has ever had to a national ministry of education.

How would Thomas Aquinas, or any college with a distinct mission, fare under such a scheme? What would happen to the quality of American higher education?

The answers are clear from the proposed organization's core standards, which include diversity. There is good reason to believe that this new board would promote diversity standards nationwide. In fact, the very existence of schools grounded in a clearly defined academic philosophy would be at great risk. Atwell has written that "diversity among institutions does not satisfy the need for diversity within institutions." In other words, colleges and universities whose curricula are specifically dedicated to the "great books," a traditional liberal-arts curriculum, a theological focus, or any other coherent body of belief would be subject to the multicultural whims of a remote bureaucracy.

Such diversity also could be applied to the internal, everyday workings of all institutions that rely upon accreditation: student and faculty composition, trustee membership, allocation of resources, and on and on. Atwell has advocated a "comprehensive approach that encompasses the makeup of the faculty, student body, and staff; the curriculum offered by the institution; and the climate on the campus itself." Such a vision invites not diversity, but rather a leveling of the very differences in academic emphasis and philosophy that have helped create the finest educational non-system in the world.

Opposition to the new accrediting entity is growing. Among others, American University, Boston University, Baylor, Caltech, Holy Cross, John Hopkins, Pepperdine, Rice, Stanford, Smith, the University of Dallas, the University of Southern California, the University of Missouri, and the University of Vermont all oppose the plan. Congressmen William Goodling (R-PA), chairman of the House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee, and Howard McKeon (R-CA), chairman of its higher education subcommittee, have written to Education Secretary Richard Riley: "We would certainly oppose any attempt to use accreditation...to impose standards unrelated to the fiscal interests of American taxpayers which could force schools to change their nature or their mission."

It is not enough, however, to defeat the nationalization plan or fight WASC to a stalemate. A genuinely open and collegial system of accreditation, one that allows governments to catch fraud and abuse and yet steers clear of political correctness, is clearly needed. Like most college presidents, I would prefer to devote my energies to the growth and prosperity of my college, to its unique curriculum, and to its ardent, inquiring students.

My experience with accreditation leads me to suggest a policy of decentralization and reform to protect the diversity of ideas, programs, and institutions that has served our republic so well over centuries.

AN OUTLINE FOR REFORM

First, it is essential to restrain the federal government's impulse to govern higher education. The federal government may want to promote college and university education, for example through subsidies for student loans. But federal aid should permit individual students and their families maximum choice, and leave schools free of burdensome and possibly ideological regulations.

Liberal education, with its historical roots in religion and philosophy, deals in those ultimate questions that the American political tradition leaves to associations other than the government. That is why, when the G.I. Bill provided federal dollars, the gatekeeping function was assigned to nongovernmental accrediting agencies.

Second, non-governmental accreditation in its present form--regional monopolies like WASC--should confine itself to screening out incompetence and fraud. An accrediting agency is not, and cannot be, purely private, since it can shut off federal money. Recognizing this power, it must show proper restraint. In the short run, such a modest role, in which any criticism is non-binding, is less open to abuse than any form of regulation, particularly regulation by state governments, which sometimes serve as strongholds of the diversity forces.

The most lasting way to forestall abuse is to break the monopoly. Federal policy should therefore favor the formation of high-quality, alternative accreditation agencies, perhaps tailored to institutional types: research universities, liberal-arts colleges, or, to address the latest outbreak of academic intimidation, pro-life medical schools. Such agencies, being genuinely voluntary, can better accommodate their members than one-size-fits-all monopolies whose standards must measure institutions as diverse as institutes of psychology, comprehensive universities, liberal-arts colleges, and research universities. Colleges would have an incentive to earn recognition from truly independent, private accreditors, since their approval would mean something. The resulting competition and emulation would promote quality much more effectively than the present system.

Third, a limited intervention against rogue accreditors who misuse their delegated powers can be useful, at least until the monopolies are effectively broken. One instance of prudent intervention occurred when Lamar Alexander, then U.S. Secretary of Education, restrained the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools when it tried to bully Baruch College and Westminster Theological Seminary into accepting diversity standards. But it is better to fashion one's own freedom, as we have tried to do within WASC, or as would result from the emergence of alternative accreditors.

Centralization of regional accreditors is exactly the wrong way to go. It was an enormous labor for us to alert some of the 145 schools in WASC to the threats posed by regional bureaucracy. I seriously doubt that a stronger bureaucratic organization based in Washington, D.C., with a membership in the thousands, could ever be moved with a similar effort.

I understand the desire for accountability when federal funds are involved, and I understand the natural ambition on the part of the new Congress to reform from the top down, but I think it should be resisted. We should remember what happened to the national history standards in Goals 2000. First proposed by Lynne Cheney, the head of the National Endowment of the Humanities under President Bush, they were hijacked by the educators commissioned to execute the project. At the same time, we should move to prevent the centralization of the accrediting process.

The existing national educational bodies that offer to implement reforms tend to support fads like the diversity movement, and will try to regiment independent schools. Such centralization brought us mandatory training in abortion procedures among accredited medical schools.

We must not set up a shadow national ministry of education under the guise of privatization, efficiency, or better standards.

Its bureaucrats will be no better than government bureaucrats, and even less accountable. Above all, colleges and universities will merit the trust of the public and the government if they hold true to the timeless standards enunciated by St. Thomas Aquinas seven centuries ago: "The study of philosophy is not directed to the various opinions of men, but to the truth of things." Truth, not diversity, is the goal of education.

Copyright Heritage Foundation Spring 1995
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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  DL: Achilles Heel of the Education Cartel
Posted by: Administrator - 05-13-2007, 11:22 AM - Forum: Welcome to DL Truth - No Replies

http://www.lewrockwell.com/north/north8.html

Quote:
The Coming Breakdown of the Academic Cartel
by Gary North
Higher education in the United States is a cartel. It is rarely discussed in these terms, but that is what it has been throughout most of the 20th century.

A cartel is an association of producers that jointly establishes certain output criteria for membership. The goal of the cartel is for all of its members to obtain net revenues above what would be possible if there were open competition, especially price competition. Members restrict output in order to gain high revenues per unit sold. The cartel's members raise their prices.

A cartel faces competition from members who cheat and from non-members who enter the market. This is why cartels that do not obtain protection from the State in restricting entry into a market eventually break down. Without State intervention, newcomers attract consumers by offering lower prices. Also, some cartel members cheat by secretly increasing their output, lowering prices, or both. The cartels' other members must then cut prices to retain customers. The cartel breaks down.

Whenever you find a cartel that has existed for several decades, begin a search for State intervention: civil sanctions placed on non-members who seek to enter the market through price competition. In the field of higher education, look for laws against the unaccredited use of certain words: college, university, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.

Accreditation
I have yet to see a history of the collegiate academic accreditation system in the United States. It would make a great Ph.D. dissertation topic for some free market economist. (Perhaps it has been written, and I have missed it.)

There is a Web site that lists the various collegiate accrediting associations: the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The site also has a revealing page on Government Relations. The organization favors "voluntary enforcement," meaning self-policing by existing members, without additional regulations imposed by the U.S. Department of Education.

Economists might say that "voluntary enforcement" really means "government enforcement of existing regulations, especially against non-member interlopers, but with no new rules imposed on existing cartel members." (Except when analyzing the Federal Reserve System, economists say things like this.)

Recall that the chief goal of a cartel is to keep out price-competitive interlopers. In a document titled, HEA 98 – Summary of Accreditation Provisions, we read the following:

Quote:The President today signed into law the Higher Education Amendments of 1998 (HEA 98), as Public Law 105-244. The new law reauthorizes for five years the Higher Education Act, the basic framework for federal policies in higher education that includes the massive federal programs of student financial assistance. The new law retains current programs, provides some modest new initiatives, lowers borrowing costs to our students and authorizes small improvements in program funding.

With Federal money comes Federal regulation. This is nothing new. In every industry, those producers who are on the receiving end of this money can and do invoke a defense of cartel-defined standards in order to restrict entry by interlopers who might otherwise sell services to the public at lower prices. Restriction of entry through industry-policed "voluntary" standards, backed up by the threat of new civil laws if members do not obey the existing laws, is justified by the cartel's members in the name of both standards and the proper use of government money.

In higher education, government-enforced accreditation restricts the spread of new ideas, new methodologies, and above all, new technologies that enable producers to lower prices. This is how higher education has become uniformly secular, liberal, and mediocre: raising the cost of entry.

In this same report, there is a reference to something called "distance education."

Distance education programs will be assessed in accreditation under the same quality assurance criteria as other programs, and will not be subject to new and separate criteria. The new distance education demonstration program recognizes the role of voluntary accreditation.

What is distance education? Distance education is the Achilles heel of the education cartel's maintenance of control over higher education. It will be the battleground of higher education over the next two decades.

If the cartel loses this battle, it will lose control over the content and pricing of higher education.

The cartel is going to lose it. The reason: price competition beyond anything ever seen in higher education. A technological revolution is almost upon us.

Plastic Disks and Fiber Optics
Today, it is possible to put 50 hours of video lectures (small image), without compression technology, on a conventional CD-ROM. Use the new DVD technology, and you can put 400 hours of lectures on the disk without compression. A DVD player now costs under $200.

The typical student's college year involves about 450 lectures, 45 minutes each: 10 courses, 15 weeks, three lectures per week. Core academic courses are mandatory for all students, so a college can put one year's worth of freshman core courses onto a DVD disk that costs $2.50 to produce and mail to the student. That's with no compression. With today's low-cost compression technology, any department (history, biology, etc.) can put all of its courses on one disk.

With compression technology due out later this year, the typical college could put its entire curriculum on one disk – twenty or thirty different majors. The student's only expense then is textbooks, and a growing number of lower-division textbooks can be downloaded free of charge from the Web.

Say that you are a college professor. You write your textbook, put it on your college's CD-ROM, and get paid, say, $5 per sale as a royalty. The college gets $1. Is that a good deal for you? No printing costs, no inventory costs, no nothing. Just cash your checks. Trust me: it's a good deal. The student pays $6 per textbook that he "unlocks" on the disk. Cost saving for the student: about $45 per textbook, and maybe more.

We are talking marketing revolution here.

Technologically speaking, as of today, a college education no longer requires classrooms, lawns, huge administration buildings, air conditioning, heating, dormitories, library buildings (rarely used by most students anyway), massive institutional debt, and all the rest of the barriers to entry in setting up a college.

This means that small groups with odd-ball views are now able to set up their own colleges. Only the government-imposed licensing monopoly for issuing degrees will delay this process, but it won't succeed. Here's why.

Existing degree-granting colleges have already begun to start cutting prices for "distance learning." The others will have to follow. I estimate that the lower limit for tuition is around $2,500 a year. It may be less. Education can be conducted by CD-ROM and e-mail. The technology for conducting discussion groups is here but not yet cheap enough. It will be cheap within five years. The cost barrier to starting a college is about to fall dramatically.

I know of an accredited 80-year-old private college that charges $10,000 a year in tuition, and pays its full-time faculty members a pathetic $24,000 a year to teach 8 classes. It costs $15,000 to send a student there – room, board, tuition, books.

With digital education, this college could charge $2,500 a year, and pay its faculty members $2,000 of this. Divided among 10 teachers (10 courses) per academic year, this is $200 per course. A teacher who teaches 8 classes (24 semester units) of 35 students each could earn $56,000 a year – more than twice what the school now pays. Most of today's tuition money is going for overhead. Cut the overhead, and the faculty wins.

Could a teacher teach this way? Figure it out. He spends, at most, less than two hours in reading one midterm exam (10 minutes) and a final exam (20 minutes), plus two term papers (20 minutes each). In fact, very few teachers assign term papers these days. True-false and multiple choice exams can be corrected, with answers provided for missed questions, by existing e-mail programs: 100% electronic and instantaneous.

Once the instructor records his lectures on video, and writes up his weekly digital-graded exams and answers (which most teachers do not give these days), all he has to do is answer students' questions by e-mail. He has 280 students (35 x 8), times 2 hours, or 560 hours of work per year – not 2,000, which is what most professionals work. He will make $100 an hour ($56,000 divided by 560). If he spends 2 hours in e-mail per student (he won't have to), he will still make $50 per hour – and he will not be working year-round. If he is willing to teach twice as many classes by adding summer school and extra classes during the year, he can make $110,000 a year.

At $2,500 a year tuition, working adults will be pulled back into college because they do not have to move to the college. To rewrite the old slogan, "If Muhammed cannot go to the mountain, the mountain had better go to Muhammed. Soon."

The possibilities for education through the Internet will change the way we learn. Any college that does not adjust to the Web, including discount pricing, will disappear. This will take less than two decades.

The Web is where the future of higher education is. The more expensive today's college education is, the more vulnerable an institution is to price competition. When students can stay home, keep their part-time jobs, and learn everything they need to know in the majors that 80% of students select (social sciences and humanities), why pay $50,000 to $100,000 for a college education? Why not pay $10,000, with the money used mainly to pay the faculty?

Setting the Precedent
Some rich entrepreneur is going to assemble a bunch of famous professors, record their videos, get their reading lists, and hire an army of Ph.D-holding teaching assistants at $15 per hour. He can hire retired big-name professors, pay them huge salaries, and play the big-name professor game better than the Ivy League.

He will own the finest university on earth, charge $7,000 a year, and make another fortune for himself. Will it get its accreditation? If it does, the precedent is set: 100% distance learning. If not, then the accrediting system will be seen as a cartel-operated sham. Besides, what student will care if it is accredited? Harvard University is not accredited and never has been. This Web-based university will have bigger names than Harvard.

Once someone does this, the precedent will have been set: no accreditation needed. The dominoes will begin to fall. The price of a college education will fall with it.

If the government blocks this inside the U.S., the entrepreneur has 180 (this week) other nations to choose from. Get accreditation there, if it is needed for marketing. If not, forget about it. Use the same faculty, the same textbooks, the same CD-ROM's, the same e-mail addresses. This is distance learning.

When you think of "distance learning," think of an Olympics limited to 45-year-old athletes ("Skilled! Experienced!"), who one day must face 19-year-olds. The distance between the cartel's runners and the newcomers will be measurable in yards, meters, and seconds. The cartel's members will learn at a very great distance.

This is where higher education is headed. The monopoly over higher education is going to be broken up, all over the world.

July 31, 2000

Gary North is the author of Crossed Fingers: How the Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church, which is available free of charge as a downloaded text at http://www.freebooks.com.

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  Little Evidence that Accreditation is a Reliable Quality Indicator
Posted by: Administrator - 05-13-2007, 11:09 AM - Forum: Welcome to DL Truth - No Replies

http://www.goacta.org/publications/Repor...diting.pdf

Quote:
Can College Accreditation Live Up to its Promise?
By George C. Leef and Roxana D. Burris

...
Rather than ensuring educational quality, accreditation merely verifies that a school has what accreditors regard as the proper inputs and procedures.
This report questions the assumption that accreditation is a proxy for quality. It finds little evidence that accreditation is a reliable quality indicator. The approach taken by most accrediting bodies is to check to see that colleges and universities have certain inputs and procedures. They do not look at learning outcomes and give no assurances about the quality of individual courses or programs. Nor do they insist that institutions maintain sound core curricula. According to reliable studies, the quality of undergraduate education in America has declined considerably, despite the fact that nearly all colleges and universities are accredited.

There are significant costs associated with the accreditation system.
If accreditation does little to ensure quality, it does even less to address the other major worry about higher education—college costs. College tuition, fees, and other expenses have been rising much faster than the rate of inflation for years, but cost control is not among the accreditors’ concerns. To make matters worse, accreditation imposes some substantial costs of its own. There are monetary costs for annual membership fees and for the periodic accreditation reviews. There are opportunity costs, as school resources are diverted from other tasks in preparation for accreditation reviews. And there can be costs when institutions are driven to implement accreditors’ recommendations rather than using their own judgment on how best to provide the education their students need.

Recommendations.
This report concludes with a number of recommendations. First, the connection between eligibility for government student aid and accreditation should be severed. Second, trustees should become more active in the accreditation process. Third, state governments should bring needed competition to the field of accreditation by requiring that their colleges and universities solicit bids for accrediting services, just as they would for any other sort of service. Finally, the accreditation associations should start acting in a manner more akin to business consultants than monopolies.

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Exclamation Welcome to DL Truth
Posted by: Administrator - 05-13-2007, 10:30 AM - Forum: Welcome to DL Truth - No Replies

CAUTION:  The education cartel has fostered a cadre of dangerous stalkers who harass people with education or credentials obtained from non-regionally accredited colleges and universities, or who provide or publicly express support for non-traditional education.  For this reason new posters are advised to register under pen names and should not provide identifying information about themselves or other posters.



Welcome to DL Truth

"Quality" in higher education is a nebulous and subjective term.  Many people have been misled into believing that the only source of "quality" college and university education in the US is through "regionally accredited" schools.  

Although many regionally accredited (RA) schools are among the most prestigious and provide the highest quality education in the world, RA as it is presently constituted is not in itself a measure or guarantee of a quality education.  In fact, some RA schools are little better than "diploma mills," offering degrees for little or no real study.

The RA schools in fact operate as an education cartel, a combination of wealthy, entrenched government and private interests that excludes competition and drives up prices.  

Until recently many people of limited financial means, or who worked full time or whose circumstances otherwise prevented them from attending classes at distant campuses found themselves excluded from the regionally accredited degree process.  

Today the technological revolution of the computer age is making quality college or university education accessible to millions of people the world over.  But the education cartel has been slow to embrace the new technology.  Worse, when they do they often incorporate the stultifying boredom of the traditional "lecture hall."   And they do so at prices equal to or higher than their old fashioned "brick and mortar" classrooms, despite their enormous savings in facilities, materials and labor.  

Fortunately there is a surge of education pioneers working to meet the demand of the market, rather than attempting to make the market conform to an obsolete product and outdated thinking.  Throughout history, when innovators are not bridled by government and reactionary special interests, they have responded to market forces by devising new technologies and better, more affordable products to meet demand.

Today this burgeoning "new wave" of higher education providers is offering accessible, quality education at affordable prices.  Many of these innovators exist outside the established higher education cartel, operating as nationally accredited, state-approved or outside the US.  Although offering quality education comparable to RA schools, they often are inaccurately termed "degree mills" by the uninformed, and unfairly and erroneously criticized by the benighted shills of the outmoded education cartel.  

Hence this website is intended to foster public awareness about the new avenues of legitimate but non-regionally accredited higher education, as well as expose the fallacies being foisted off by the passé education cartel's misinformation campaign.

DL Truth


This is a private forum intended for the free exchange of information and expression of opinions.  Satire, humor, parody and similar protected speech are welcome and encouraged.  Posters making statements of fact are encouraged to provide working links to sources.  Content may be edited or deleted in the sole discretion of the management, for any reason or no reason at all. Any material that threatens or encourages bodily harm or destruction of property is strictly forbidden.

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