Inside Accreditation with the President of CHEA

General discussions concerning institutions and degree programs.

Inside Accreditation with the President of CHEA

Postby Eric » Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:35 pm

Volume 5, Number 1, January 20, 2009
Inside Accreditation is a publication intended to keep presidents of CHEA member institutions informed about developments in external quality review of higher education. Please direct any inquiries or comments to chea@chea.org or to (202) 955-6126.

http://www.chea.org/ia/IA_2009.01.20.html

THERE'S A LOT THAT'S RIGHT ABOUT REGIONAL ACCREDITATION

Judith S. Eaton

The Role, Presence and Value of Regional Accreditation
The Critique
Critiquing the Critique
But... Let's Pay Attention

Several months ago, Anne Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), spoke at the annual meeting of the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), a federally recognized accrediting organization ("The Future of Accreditation") - https://www.goacta.org/publications/dow ... -24-08.pdf.
Although Ms. Neal addressed the general role of accreditation, her primary focus was the regional organizations. And, consistent with the position that she and ACTA have taken for the past several years (see "Why Accreditation Doesn't Work and What Policymakers Can Do About It" - https://www.goacta.org/publications/dow ... nal.pdfand "Can College Accreditation Live Up to Its Promise?"), she once again found much to criticize. https://www.goacta.org/publications/dow ... 7Final.pdf
Eric

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Re: Inside Accreditation with the President of CHEA

Postby Eric » Fri Jan 30, 2009 7:05 pm

strong statement

Indeed, while regional accreditors oversee the largest number of four-year institutions around the
country, educational standards have been declining. Meanwhile, there is ample evidence that these selfsame
regionals have used their power as federal gatekeepers to apply intrusive prescriptive standards and
have enforced ideological tests and other criteria unrelated to educational quality. Under the authority
they wield as agents of the federal government, the major regionals routinely insert themselves into the
internal affairs of their member schools. They attempt to undermine the power and authority of duly
elected and appointed trustees who, in the eyes of the law, hold the ultimate responsibility for the
wellbeing of their schools. And quite frequently they serve as a barrier to new entrants in the market by
focusing on inputs rather than results.
The bottom line? The accreditation regime – at least as it concerns the regionals – fools the
American people, pretending that the process implies quality when it often does not
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Re: Inside Accreditation with the President of CHEA

Postby TheoloM » Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:57 pm

Eric,

So, am I reading in the statement you quoted that regional accreditors are not always what they are cracked up to be? If so, where does this leave all those who frown on any kind of accreditation other than regional?

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Re: Inside Accreditation with the President of CHEA

Postby Hungry Ghost » Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:25 pm

One of the (few) reasons why I applaud Barack Obama's election victory is that it finally removes Margaret Spellings as Secretary of Education. And with Spellings goes the influence that Anne Neal (president of ACTA) had over her.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), despite its slightly grandiose name, is actually a conservative activist organization. It was created to counter the left-wing domination of many universities and to persuade alumni and rich donors to channel their money to more conservative schools. So far, that's unobjectionable and even laudable in my opinion.

Where Neal started going hyperbolic was when she reshaped that purpose into a battle against accreditation in general and against regional accreditation in particular. Neal talked a lot about educational quality and about how many RA schools are next to worthless, but with Neal the quality discussion was always a vehicle for her political point. 'Low quality' meant 'left-politicized'. Neal favored vocational accreditors like ACCSCT over the regional accreditors because ACCSCT didn't accredit programs in things like post-modernism, eco-feminism or race-class-gender theory.

Things went entirely off the rails when Neal started advising students and parents to disregard accreditation entirely when choosing schools, announcing that lack of accreditation didn't imply that a school was low quality while possessing accreditation didn't indicate that it was. ACTA's agenda turned towards persuading the US Dept of Education to make students at all schools eligible for governmnt aid, regardless of the school's accreditation status.

So despite all the grand talk about defending educational quality, the degree mills never had a better friend than Ann Neal and ACTA. The scary thing was that Secretary Spellings appointed this breathtakingly stupid woman to the Education Department's advisory committee on accreditor recognition where she reportedly had a disproportionate influence on its proceedings.

Part of the problem with Neal was her elite background and history as a professional educator. That means that she's probably never in her entire life searched for a distance-learning program on the internet. She has no idea what a search would produce. Most likely she's not even aware that degree-mills exist. They don't exist in her world of wealthy students attending elite B&M schools. To her, 'non-accredited' probably means things like Bob Jones and Pensacola Christian.

Some ACTA quotes:

"With accreditation almost universal, it does little or nothing to screen out institutions that have seccumbed to the temptation to keep students content with low standards and a weak curriculum."

"Parents and students should bear in mind that accreditation is no guarantee of educational quality, and conversely that lack of accreditation (or suspension thereof) does not necessarily indicate that the institution fails to provide a sound education environment."

"At the present time, almost all colleges and universities are accredited"

"but that may change in the future and if so, parents and students should consider colleges and universities without regard to accreditation status."

"The federal government should sever the connection between accreditation and eligibility for student aid."

"The assumption was that accredited institutions were presumptively good schools and non-accredited ones were presumptively not. Experience has shown, however, that many accredited institutions now provide an education in name only and accreditation, therefore, is an unreliable guide to educational quality."

"There is no reason to believe that students would waste their funds at institutions providing little or no educational benefit if they were free to enroll without regard to the accreditation status of a school."

Stuff like that certainly doesn't increase my confidence in professional educators.

See this earlier thread:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3182&p=26201
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Re: Inside Accreditation with the President of CHEA

Postby g-gollin » Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:42 pm

Hungry Ghost wrote:...Anne Neal (president of ACTA)...


An interesting Washington conection, in case you were unaware of it: Ms. Neal is married to Congressman Thomas Petri, the representative from the Wisconsin 6th district. (WI 06 is adjacent to WI 02 which contains Madison.) Mr. Petri is a Republican member, and sits on the Committee on Education and Labor, including the subcommittee for Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness.

About a year ago I met with a legislative aide of Mr. Petri's who focuses on higher education issues. Very bright fellow, very knowledgeable. It was really a pleaure to speak with an LA who was as well-versed in the arcana of higher education legislation and accreditation as he was.
At one point I made reference to a technical problem in "Why Accreditation Doesn't Work and What Policymakers Can Do About It" concerning the importance of university department heads acting as first-responders to faculty-caused instructional problems. (Neal's document had not addressed the sequence-of-responders issue.) I was surprised at the sudden alertness on the part of the aide! I learned later that Ms. Neal and Mr. Petri are married. Fortunately, I hadn't said anything strident or, even, particularly critical.

I heard Ms. Neal speak on the subject of accreditation last year. She proposed having the states become entirely responsible for quality assurance oversight. That's naive: we see how wide the variation in state oversight is right now, and many states would be hard pressed to find the resources to do it significantly better than they already do. Look at the mess in California, for example.
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Re: Inside Accreditation with the President of CHEA

Postby Eric » Mon Feb 02, 2009 10:37 am

Why CHEA provides a forum for such politically motivated campaign.
What porpoise this possibly serves?
Eric

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Re: Inside Accreditation with the President of CHEA

Postby g-gollin » Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:38 pm

Eric wrote:Why CHEA provides a forum for such politically motivated campaign.
What porpoise this possibly serves?


CHEA watches over the U.S. system of university accreditation, in partnership with the USDE. Engagement with higher education policy issues, especially those relating to quality assurance, is central to CHEA's path through the world.

Could you elaborate on what you mean by "politically motivated campaign" please?
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GASP!

Postby nosborne48 » Mon Feb 02, 2009 3:05 pm

Oh, Dr. G.G...

Are you quite, quite sure you want an answer to that? :roll:
Una cosa mala nunca muere.
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Re: GASP!

Postby g-gollin » Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:49 pm

nosborne48 wrote:Are you quite, quite sure you want an answer to that? :roll:


That's why I asked. I am interested in a precise, logical analysis, though, which does take some time to write.
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Re: GASP!

Postby Sean » Sun Feb 15, 2009 2:35 am

g-gollin wrote:
nosborne48 wrote:Are you quite, quite sure you want an answer to that? :roll:


That's why I asked. I am interested in a precise, logical analysis, though, which does take some time to write.

Where does CHEA's funding come from?
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Re: Inside Accreditation with the President of CHEA

Postby Sean » Sun Feb 15, 2009 2:42 am

Hungry Ghost wrote:One of the (few) reasons why I applaud Barack Obama's election victory is that it finally removes Margaret Spellings as Secretary of Education. And with Spellings goes the influence that Anne Neal (president of ACTA) had over her.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), despite its slightly grandiose name, is actually a conservative activist organization. It was created to counter the left-wing domination of many universities and to persuade alumni and rich donors to channel their money to more conservative schools. So far, that's unobjectionable and even laudable in my opinion.

Where Neal started going hyperbolic was when she reshaped that purpose into a battle against accreditation in general and against regional accreditation in particular. Neal talked a lot about educational quality and about how many RA schools are next to worthless, but with Neal the quality discussion was always a vehicle for her political point. 'Low quality' meant 'left-politicized'. Neal favored vocational accreditors like ACCSCT over the regional accreditors because ACCSCT didn't accredit programs in things like post-modernism, eco-feminism or race-class-gender theory.

Interesting.

Do you think this is why it seems that some of the non-regional accreditation agencies have grown in size and power since 2001?
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Re: GASP!

Postby g-gollin » Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:20 am

Sean wrote:Where does CHEA's funding come from?

CHEA is a membership organization: its members are universities, and those universities pay dues. Note that the accrediting organizations are NOT members.
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Re: GASP!

Postby Sean » Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:34 am

Please do not view my questions as being disrespectful. I've spent the past week reading this forum and appreciate what you have written. I'm new to this and am trying to figure it out.

g-gollin wrote:
Sean wrote:Where does CHEA's funding come from?

CHEA is a membership organization: its members are universities, and those universities pay dues. Note that the accrediting organizations are NOT members.


So CHEA relies on it's member universities to pay dues.

These universities, in turn, are accredited by a small number of federally approved accrediting organizations.

So by agreeing to a new accrediting organization which accredits a large bunch of schools, the dues for CHEA increase dramatically.

In turn, by finding problems, they risk having their members decrease dramatically and the "dues" vanish.

Is this correct?
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not quite

Postby g-gollin » Sun Feb 15, 2009 4:17 am

Sean: "So CHEA relies on its member universities to pay dues."

GG: CHEA member universities pay dues, and that contributes to CHEA's operating funds

Sean: "These universities, in turn, are accredited by a small number of federally approved accrediting organizations."

GG: A slight refinement in the details: some accreditors are RECOGNIZED by the U.S. Department of Education. Some are RECOGNIZED by CHEA. Many (but not all) recognized accreditors are recognized by bth USDE and CHEA.

I would not say that the number of accreditors is small. CHEA recognizes six regional accreditors (eight, if you count the two WASC and two NEASC accreditors separately), four national faith-related accrediting organizations, two national career-related accrediting organizations, and 49 programmatic accrediting organizations. See http://www.chea.org/pdf/2008_2009_Directory_of_CHEA_Recognized_Organizations.pdf for the lists.

Sean: "So by agreeing to a new accrediting organization which accredits a large bunch of schools, the dues for CHEA increase dramatically."

GG: Are you thinking of the recognition of a new programmatic accreditor? I believe CHEA members are required to hold institutional accreditation. (But note that I'm a little fuzzy about the exact eligibility requirements for membership.) If that is the case, the recognition of a new programmatic accreditor will not enlarge the set of schools that are eligible to become CHEA members. And membership is not an automatic consequence of accreditation: there about 7,500 schools that hold institutional accreditation. Somewhat less than half are currently CHEA members.

Sean: "In turn, by finding problems, they risk having their members decrease dramatically and the 'dues' vanish."

GG: By "finding problems" you mean chosing to terminate the recognition of a regional or national (institutional) accrediting organization. I do not know what the procedures following such an action might be. The consequences to the schools and their students could be severe, complex, and damaging to international higher education.

I believe you are suggesting the existence of a dark conflict of interest lying underneath the source and nature of the operating funds used by CHEA. Let me make a suggestion: if you do have concerns about CHEA's financial structure, please write it up in detail, in a form that clearly states your concerns, includes any data that support these concerns, and describes the nature of the conflicts that might be present in the current manner of things. Mail it to me and I'll discuss it with my fellow board members. But it will need to be a logical, tightly reasoned document, and it's probably going to take a couple of weekends of hard, focused work to write it.
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Re: not quite

Postby Sean » Sun Feb 15, 2009 4:34 am

Again, I appreciate your reply. Please do not make value judgements. I am not "suggesting" anything. I am simply trying to figure out how things work before making my own educational decisions. Your help is appreciated. I'm wondering why you would write about "dark whatever", but whatever.

1. What are the percentages of each accreditation providers accredited universities paying dues?

2. Could you compare this to a decade ago?

3. How, if they chose to terminate a currently recognized accrediting organization, would would this be so damaging? Are you suggesting that the damages would be so great that termination should never be an option? How would this be damaging to "international higher education?"

4. I don't need you to re-write anything. I'm just curious about the above before I make my own personal decision.
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