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Informative Session U.S. Department of Education, Accreditation and Higher Education.

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Presentation on theme: "Informative Session U.S. Department of Education, Accreditation and Higher Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 Informative Session U.S. Department of Education, Accreditation and Higher Education

2 Setting the context… Over the years, weve invested tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer money and just hoped for the best. We deserve better. - U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings

3 The Players U.S. Department of Education Margaret Spellings, U.S. Secretary of Education Charles Miller, Chairman of the Spellings Commission/ Former Chairman of the Board of Regents, University of Texas System Vickie Schray, Deputy Director for Management and Planning/Negotiated Rulemaking Meeting Facilitator NACIQI (National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity)

4 The Players Representatives of Accrediting Agencies (National, Regional, & Specialized) Commercial (ACT, ETS, etc) and not-for- profit organizations (NCHEMS, NASULGC, etc) U.S. Congress

5 The Game Congressional reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA, 1965) Negotiated Rulemaking NACIQI review and recognition of accrediting bodies The Spellings Commission and its Report The Spellings Summit

6 The Good… The Spelling Commission Report (A Test of Leadership: Charting the Future of U.S. Higher Education – September 2006) hiedfuture/reports/pre-pub-report.pdf

7 Secretary Spellings Concerns Access Affordability Quality Transparency and Accountability Innovation

8 Commission Findings Access We found that access to higher education in the United States is unduly limited by the complex interplay of inadequate preparation, lack of information about college opportunities, and persistent financial barriers.

9 Commission Findings Affordability Our higher education financing system is increasingly dysfunctional. State subsidies are declining; tuition is rising; and cost per student is increasing faster than inflation or family income... Public concern about rising costs may ultimately contribute to the erosion of public confidence in higher education. There is little to no information on why costs are so high and what were getting in return. – Secretary Spellings

10 Commission Findings Quality Over the past decade, literacy among college graduates has actually declined. Unacceptable numbers of college graduates enter the workforce without the skills employers say they need... Where once the United States led the world in educational attainment, recent data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development indicate that our nation is now ranked 12th among major industrialized countries in higher education attainment.

11 Commission Findings Transparency and Accountability We have noted a remarkable shortage of clear, accessible information about crucial aspects of American colleges and universities... Our complex, decentralized postsecondary education system has no comprehensive strategy, particularly for undergraduate programs, to provide either adequate internal accountability systems or effective public information. No current ranking system of colleges and universities directly measures the most critical pointstudent performance and learning. – Secretary Spellings

12 Commission Findings Innovation As higher education evolves in unexpected ways, this new landscape demands innovation and flexibility from the institutions that serve the nations learners... American higher education has taken little advantage of important innovations that would increase institutional capacity, effectiveness and productivity. Government and institutional policies created during a different era are impeding the expansion of models designed to meet the nations workforce needs.

13 Commission Findings To meet the challenges of the 21st century, higher education must change from a system primarily based on reputation to one based on performance. We urge the creation of a robust culture of accountability and transparency throughout higher education.

14 Impact of the Commission Report The commission has propelled and framed an agenda for the need for a national strategy in higher education, building on a bunch of efforts that were already under way... This country has never had a conversation and thought hard about how you do something national in higher education, and its a hard conversation. - Jane V. Wellman, higher ed policy expert

15 The Bad… According to Commission chairman, Charles Miller, if higher education is not responsive to change and doesnt have a strategic vision, then things are going to be mandated.

16 Congressional Approval Higher Education Act, 1965 Reauthorized approximately every 5 years Congress will attempt reauthorization again in 2007

17 Negotiated Rulemaking (Neg-Reg) Neg-Reg consists of a select group of individuals (accreditors, colleges, stakeholders, etc.) Purpose: to negotiate the rules that carry out the laws and requirements stipulated by congress (HEA) Three, 3-day sessions (Feb ; March 26-28; April 24-26) – last done in 1999 If agreement is not reached by the end of negotiations, the Dept. can interpret its own rules

18 Cautions and Concerns… U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions letter to Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings Executive Director, ASPA letter to Secretary Spellings

19 Cautions and Concerns Clearly the secretary wants to move in certain directions, and there is strong support in [NACIQI] for many of those recommendations, as they will be clarified over time, but perhaps there are some things that we cannot do by administrative fiat, and that are better done by engaging the impressing accreditation system that we have... - Lawrence J. DeNardis, NACIQI panel member

20 Cautions and Concerns... Excellent concepts, even if they pass muster eventually, need to be institutionalized before they are operationalized, he said. And they need to be institutionalized first with members of Congress, who will want to play a role... - Lawrence J. DeNardis, NACIQI panel member

21 What Happened to John Barth? Director of Accreditation and State Liaison Dept of Eds top career staff official (not a political appointee) on accreditation Oversaw staff reports/reviews of accrediting agencies used by NACIQI December 2006 NACIQI reviews were changed to reflect Dept of Ed efforts WASC, AALE, & ABA Shifted to position in the Federal Student Aid Ombudsmans office

22 What Happened to John Barth? The simultaneity of this change coupled with the initiation of negotiated rulemaking before Congress has acted on reauthorization suggests that the department is very anxious to impose a new agenda on accrediting agencies. - Terry W. Hartle, Senior Vice President for Government and Public Affairs at the American Council on Education

23 The Ugly… Using reinterpreted negotiated rules Entering new Negotiated Rulemaking before Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act with any changes (Neg-Reg usually happens after reauthorization) Using Neg-Reg to drive Dept. of Ed. agenda Federalizing reforms in accreditation rather than leading a voluntary national movement

24 Sticking Points in Current Negotiations Concern for self-regulation and the qualifications of peer evaluators Giving Dept of Ed greater authority in the monitoring of accreditors, including the power to conduct an investigation into an accrediting agency at any time, on its own initiative, at the request of [NACIQI], or in response to a third party complaint.

25 Sticking Points in Current Negotiations More liberal transfer policies (Dept. of Ed. wants to require regionally accredited institutions to accept transfer credits from non-regionally accredited schools) Requiring accreditors to set minimum levels of acceptable performance toward institutional success (e.g., graduation rates, retention, student outcomes, etc.)… and yet not have a one-size-fits-all solution.

26 Is There Contradiction? Faculty must be at the forefront of defining educational objectives for students and developing meaningful, evidence-based measures of their progress toward those goals (Report of the Commission, 24). Higher education institutions should measure student learning using quality assessment data from instruments such as, for example, the Collegiate Learning Assessment... and the Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress (Report of the Commission, 24).

27 Is There Contradiction? Faculty must be at the forefront of defining educational objectives for students and developing meaningful, evidence-based measures of their progress toward those goals (Report of the Commission, 24). A framework that aligns and expands existing accreditation standards should be established to (i) allow comparisons among institutions regarding learning outcomes and other performance measures (Report of the Commission, 25).

28 Big IPEDS? Dept of Ed wants (wanted?) an even larger dataset than IPEDS currently collects Include part-time/non-traditional enrollment Include more types of data (such as learning outcomes?) User-friendly interface for querying this dataset by user-entered weights (to provide a list of top schools based on these weights – like PhDs.org) Are they backing off… or just regrouping? Federal Register entry, March 8, 2006

29 In Summary… The Spellings Commission and its report have generated some much needed conversation in the areas of quality and accountability from both institutions and accrediting agencies Most agree with the issues of concern addressed by the report (opposition usually centers on the reports lack of concern for the arts and humanities) Some agencies and organizations are already endeavoring to find solutions

30 In Summary… Unfortunately, the Higher Ed community is slow in its willingness and ability to 1) change, and 2) lose autonomy Unfortunately, the Dept of Ed is taking a heavy-handed approach to bring about change Any new implementation will be untidy and will likely have its own deficiencies How will the 2009 White House and administration reshape this dialog?

31 U.S. Department of Education, Accreditation and Higher Education Paul Johnson Assessment Analyst Tulsa Community College


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