Number 34, June 12, 2013
NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON INSTITUTIONAL QUALITY AND INTEGRITY (NACIQI) MEETS FOR RECOGNITION REVIEWS OF ACCREDITING ORGANIZATIONS
On June 6-7, 2013, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) held a public meeting in Arlington, Virginia to review 15 accrediting organizations and one state agency for recognition. NACIQI is the advisory body that provides recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Education on the recognition of accrediting organizations.
Recognition by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) affirms that the standards and processes of accrediting organizations and state accreditation approval agencies demonstrate compliance with USDE's criteria for recognition and that these bodies are reliable authorities regarding the quality of the education or training provided by the institutions or programs they accredit.
Accrediting organizations reviewed during the two-day meeting were:
Consent Agenda (Renewal of Recognition Based on Review of Agency's Compliance Report)
Renewal of Recognition Based on Review of a Compliance Report
Petition for Renewal of Recognition
Of the 15 accrediting organizations before the committee, seven presented petitions for renewal of recognition, five presented compliance reports for renewal of recognition and three were on a consent agenda for renewal of recognition, meaning that they were considered to have corrected issues pointed out by USDE during the recognition process. The state agency before the committee presented a compliance report for renewal of recognition. USDE staff reports are available on the USDE Website. All presentations were accompanied by USDE staff recommendations.
During the course of the meeting, NACIQI followed staff recommendations regarding 14 of the 15 accrediting organizations and the state agency that were reviewed. For one accrediting organization, the Committee recommended a prohibition on the accreditation of new programs. A senior USDE official will determine whether or not to accept the recommendations. A summary of the committee's deliberations will be posted to the NACIQI Website later this year.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION ALTERS REVIEW OF PETITIONS FOR RENEWAL OF RECOGNITION BY ACCREDITING ORGANIZATIONS
The USDE has announced plans to change its review of petitions for renewal of recognition by accrediting organizations. A June 3, 2013 letter from USDE to the heads of accrediting organizations notes that, beginning in 2015, USDE will select 25 criteria "we believe are the most relevant to ensuring quality education" and will focus on those criteria in recognition reviews. These 25 criteria are a subset of the 93 criteria USDE is currently using to evaluate recognition applications.
The letter from USDE also states that accrediting organizations must remain in compliance with all 93 criteria. Agencies will be required to respond to additional criteria if any instance of non-compliance with the 25 selected criteria is found.
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO HOLD HEARING ON ACCREDITATION
The U.S. House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Higher Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing focusing on accreditation at 10:00 a.m. on June 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. The hearing - "Keeping College Within Reach: Program Quality through Accreditation" - will feature testimony from Elizabeth Sibolski, President of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Michale McComis, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, Anne Neal, President of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and Kevin Carey, Director of the Education Policy Program of the New America Foundation. A Webcast of the hearing will be available on the House Education and the Workforce Committee's Website.
A media advisory announcing the hearing noted "reforms to the accreditation process have been proposed and must be considered as part of the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act." The advisory also stated that the hearing will provide an opportunity for members of Congress to explore proposals including delinking accreditation from student aid programs and greater emphasis on evidence of student outcomes.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce currently is seeking public comments and suggestions as Congress prepares for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), expected to begin early in 2014. In an April 25, 2013 letter, Committee leadership asked for recommendations for policies and amendments that should be included in the upcoming HEA reauthorization. Letters should be sent by August 2, 2013 to HEA.Reauth@mail.house.gov. For more information, see Federal Update #33.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION ANNOUNCES SCHEDULE FOR NEGOTIATED RULEMAKING, REQUESTS NOMINATIONS FOR NEGOTIATORS
On June 12, 2013, USDE published a Federal Register notice announcing the schedule for a negotiated rulemaking to prepare proposed regulations related to federal student aid programs, "establishing standards for programs that prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation." The negotiated rulemaking committee will meet September 9-11, 2013 and October 21-23, 2013 in Washington, DC.
"Negotiated rulemaking" is a process by which the federal government consults with key constituents as part of drafting or revising regulations.
USDE also requested nominations for individuals to serve on the negotiated rulemaking committee. Accrediting organizations and higher education institutions are among the constituencies that USDE identified as "having interests that are significantly affected by the topic proposed for negotiations." Nominations must be sent by July 12, 2013 to Wendy Macias at USDE at email@example.com.
In the Federal Register notice, USDE reaffirmed its earlier announcement that it will hold a series of negotiated rulemakings over the next several years "to address more directly access to, and the affordability of, higher education and possible steps to improve the quality of higher education in the United States and to better encourage students to complete their education" (see Federal Update #32).
LEGISLATION TO COMBAT DEGREE MILLS AND ACCREDITATION MILLS REINTRODUCED IN U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Congressman Timothy Bishop (D-New York) has reintroduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to combat degree mills and accreditation mills. H.R. 2243, the "Diploma and Accreditation Integrity Act," was introduced on June 4, 2013 "to reduce and prevent the sale and use of fraudulent degrees in order to protect the integrity of valid higher education degrees that are used for Federal employment purposes." Similar legislation has been introduced by Congressman Bishop in the past two sessions of Congress.
The legislation defines degree mills and accreditation mills and makes it illegal for individuals to use credentials from a degree mill for the purpose either of being hired for a federal government job or obtaining a promotion. Among the criteria for an organization to be considered an accreditation mill, the bill lists lack of recognition by USDE or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, as well as to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on the Judiciary.
The Federal Update informs CHEA members and interested parties on federal policy developments related to self-regulation and peer review. Please direct any inquiries or comments to Jan Friis, CHEA Vice President for Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (202) 955-6126.