Giving Compass’ Take:
• The author argues that accreditation process is based too much on input of an institutions programs and not outcome focused.
• How can the accreditation scale effectiveness in other ways?
• Read about other perspectives on higher education reform in accreditation.
While Washington, D.C. slams accreditors for not holding colleges and universities accountable for their student outcomes, the more insidious failure of accreditation is the stifling effect on innovation at existing institutions.
Three case studies from a new paper that I coauthored with my colleague Alana Dunagan that was published originally as a chapter in the new book Accreditation on the Edge: Challenging Quality Assurance in Higher Education illustrate why.
- Tiffin College: In the summer of 2013, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), one of the United States’s regional accreditors, issued an edict that Tiffin College must shut down its innovative Ivy Bridge program.Underlying HLC’s new view was that Tiffin had given the autonomous entity too much control.
- Bellevue University: Bellevue University, a non-profit university in Bellevue, Nebraska, launched a new innovative program called Flexxive. HLC, initially permitted the program. But just after the Inside Higher Ed piece, the Department of Education weighed in and challenged the program essentially claiming that the contact between students and professors in the Flexxive program was too limited so the courses would not qualify for financial aid.
- Southern New Hampshire University: Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), a non-profit, enjoyed a very different experience. It created a program called College for America (CfA), which used an autonomous entity to create CfA. SNHU’s accreditor, the New England Association of Schools & Colleges approved the structure and SNHU’s proposal to create CfA in September 2012.
Accreditation as it stands currently is inconsistent, both between accreditors, and between the same accreditor at different points in time. Standards of accreditation vary between accreditors, but their interpretation varies to a larger degree—even between different accrediting teams looking at the same institution.
Institutions that are able to innovate are those blessed by geography—a cooperative, forward-thinking regional accreditor—as well as finances. Innovation can be expensive, especially when it is shut down midstream.
Read the full article about higher education accreditation by Michael B. Horn at Christensen Institute
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