|Number 34, January 24, 2007|
As we are aware, the results of the November 2006 elections mean that the Democrats will now chair the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and the House Committee on Education and Labor (formerly known as the House Committee on Education and the Workforce). Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) will chair the Senate Committee, Congressman George Miller (D-CA) will chair the House Committee and Rep. Rubén E. Hinojosa (D-Tex.) will chair the renamed Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning and Competitiveness (formerly known as the Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness).
REAUTHORIZATION OF THE HIGHER EDUCATION ACT (HEA): WHAT NEXT?
We expect HEA to be reintroduced in the Congressional session convening in January 2007. The Senate is likely to introduce a bill that is similar to S. 1614 from the last Congress. Both parties in the Senate worked on this bill as well as other higher education issues. There will likely be an additional focus on funding for higher education.
Based upon what we have heard, the House will introduce a reauthorization of the HEA that is significantly different from the bill in the prior session, H.R. 609. The House has already acted to decrease the interest rates on student loans and increase the maximum Pell Grant in the first 100 legislative hours in the month of January.
We do not expect the change of congressional majorities to result in a change of focus on accreditation and the key issues of accountability and transparency.
As previously reported, the current HEA expires on June 30, 2007.
Negotiated Rulemaking on Title IV Accreditation
The U.S. Department of Education has established a negotiating committee to address Title IV Accreditation issues. The sessions for the Accreditation Team are scheduled from 1:00 to 5:00 on February 21, 9:00 to 5:00 on February 22, and 9:00 to 4:00 on February 23. The committee will convene at the Crystal City Marriott, 1999 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia, 22202.
A copy of the draft negotiating agenda is below:
The Department selected the items for negotiation based on four criteria: 1) the issue can be addressed through regulation, 2) the issue has an identifiable solution, 3) there is a reasonable expectation that we will be able to reach consensus, and 4) the provision is expected to be cost-neutral.
CHEA Board Chair John Wiley, Board Member Paula Peinovich and CHEA President Judith Eaton have been asked to participate in this meeting. The full list of nonfederal accreditation negotiators is below.
November 29, 2006 Department of Education Accreditation Forum
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings convened an invitational “Accreditation Forum” to address the accreditation recommendations in the report of the Secretary's Commission on the Future of Higher Education such as making outcomes and performance central to accreditation judgments about quality, making accreditation more “transparent” and encouraging comparability or comparisons among similar higher education institutions. Approximately 50 people were invited to the forum. CHEA Board Chair John Wiley, Board Member Paula Peinovich and CHEA President Judith Eaton participated in the meeting. Art Rothkopf, past chair of the CHEA board and member of the Futures Commission, participated as well. The other participants included accreditors, institutional presidents, association representatives, individuals from the research and policy community and employers.
The Department achieved its goal of underscoring its commitment to the report of the Futures Commissiontaking a next step toward outcomes and performance, transparency and comparability. The forum also resulted in a strong message from the Department about “external validation” of student achievement, going beyond the efforts of institutions and accrediting organizations.
December 2006 Meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity
The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), the body that advises the Secretary of Education with regard to the recognition of accrediting organizations, meet on December 4-6, 2006 in Washington, DC. As its first order of business, the committee welcomed Vickie Schray, a key staff member for the Secretary's Commission on the Future of Higher Education, who reported on the November 29 Accreditation Forum. Ms. Schray emphasized the need for more reporting of student learning outcomes and making more accrediting information publicly available. In her comments, she underscored the message about external validation and stressed comparability as well. Ms. Schray also reminded the committee that the Secretary has stated on a number of occasions that she has high expectations with regard to the role that the NACIQI can play in realizing the commission recommendations.
The conduct of the individual reviews of accrediting organizations that were on the committee's agenda made it clear that the committee was indeed focused on the commission recommendations. There was considerable pressure on accrediting organizations to do more with student learning outcomes and a good deal of emphasis on external validation of student achievement. While what is specifically meant here has yet to be laid out, two comments from the meeting were perhaps indicative: “How do we assess the success with regard to student achievement that is reported by institutions?” and “What boundaries need to be set to address mission-driven assessment of quality?”
March 2007 Summit “A Test of Leadership”
As published in a December 21, 2006 Dear Colleague letter, Secretary Spellings has announced that she is convening a summit to bring higher education, accreditation and many other sectors together to discuss the recommendations of the Futures Commission, including progress to be made, specific responsibilities and actions going forward. As the letter indicates, the Secretary's summit, “A Test of LeadershipCommitting to Advance Post-Secondary Education for all Americans,” will “focus on galvanizing action and distributing leadership and accountability across all sectors.” Its work will emphasize five key priorities: “aligning K-12 and higher education expectations; increasing need-based aid; using accreditation to support and emphasize student learning outcomes; serving adults and other non-traditional students; and expanding affordability through increased transparency of costs.” The Department is looking for individuals with experience in these priorities to participate in the forum. The event will be held in Washington, DC, March 2122, 2007.
New CHEA Publication
With the continued national emphasis on accreditation from both the Secretary of Education and Congress, CHEA has summarized its recommendations, ideas and effective practices from the 13 papers, advisories, and commentaries on outcomes, performance and public information published over the last five years. This new publication Accreditation and Accountability: A CHEA Special Report distills CHEA's prior work in helping institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations show evidence of outcomes and performance and make appropriate information public.
This Update is intended to inform interested parties on developments
in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Please direct
any inquiries or comments to Jan Friis at firstname.lastname@example.org
or to (202) 955-6126.