Dropping a Bomb on Accreditation

In its first six months of operation, the Education Department's higher
education commission has been best known - and most feared in academe - for
some off-handed comments from the panel's chairman about the need for more
evidence that college students are actually learning something. Many
academic leaders took that to mean that the panel planned a national
<>  standardized test
for higher education - an idea that the chairman, Charles Miller, has
repeatedly insisted is a misinterpretation.

Now the Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher
Education has a new target: higher education's longstanding, little
understood, and much-maligned system of regional accreditation. And an
"issue paper" Miller released Thursday leaves little room for
misinterpretation about the perceived problems or the proposed solution: a
"national accreditation foundation" that Congress would create to replace
the current system.

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One other blurb from article: 

While Miller himself did not write the often scathing report - "The Need for
Accreditation Reform" was prepared by Robert C. Dickeson, a former vice
president at the Lumina Foundation and a consultant to the commission - its
release at his "request" signals a continued desire on the chairman's part
to challenge college leaders to rethink how they operate.

That inclination is reflected in several other papers that the commission
released Thursday,
<>  too. One in
particular, titled
> "Accountability/Assessment," is a sharply worded laundry list of many
problems that Miller and his co-author, Geri H. Malandra, associate vice
chancellor for institutional planning at the University of Texas System, say
afflict American higher education: a "dangerous complacency about the real
quality and impact" of the system, student outcomes that are of "grave
concern," elitism and a growing chasm between college access for low- and
higher income students, and a "gaping information void" about colleges'
performance, to name just a few.


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