New USDE Requirements for Accrediting Organizations and Other Federal Issues
USDE PUBLISHES INFORMATION COLLECTION REQUEST AND CALL FOR COMMENT ON NEW REQUIREMENTS OF ACCREDITORS
On April 5, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) published a notification of a draft guidance letter in the Federal Register as an information collection request setting forth a new protocol for federally recognized accrediting organizations to report their accrediting actions to USDE.
Federally recognized accreditors have, for some time, reported accrediting decisions, e.g., decisions to accredit or continue to accredit an institution or program, put an institution or program on probation or deny or terminate accreditation, to USDE and the public The proposed information collection includes an Accreditor Letter on Terminology and Reporting and an Excel spreadsheet that would standardize the reports and provide more detail and context. USDE believes that this format will result in more accurate and complete information to USDE to help the Department carry out its oversight activities.
USDE will review comment before issuing a final version of the letter. Comments – which are due by June 6, 2016 – can be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov, or by mail, commercial delivery or hand delivery to Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., room 6W256, Washington, DC 20202.
USDE PROPOSES SUPPLEMENTAL REGULATIONS AND 30-DAY COMMENT PERIOD FOR TEACHER PREPARATION PROGRAMS RULEMAKING
On April 1, 2016, USDE published a Federal Register supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to re-open the comment period on specific issues concerning distance education and teacher preparation. The original proposed regulations were released on December 3, 2014 (see Federal Update 45). In the current notice, USDE states that previous commenters expressed concerns about differences between brick and mortar teacher preparation programs and programs provided through distance education that make some of the proposed requirements unclear.
USDE is requesting comments concerning:
- State reporting on teacher preparation programs provided through distance education. In the original NPRM, USDE included requirements for states to report on, e.g., student learning outcomes, employment outcomes, survey outcomes and program characteristics for teacher preparation programs in the state, including distance education programs.
- TEACH Grant eligibility for students enrolling in teacher preparation programs offered through distance education.
Comments on this supplemental NPRM are due by May 2, 2016. Comments can be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov, or by mail, commercial delivery or hand delivery to Sophia McArdle, Ph.D., U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 6W256, Washington, DC 20202.
USDE SEEKS TO STRENGTHEN ITS REVIEW OF ACCREDITORS TO PROTECT STUDENTS
USDE Under Secretary Ted Mitchell, in a March 29, 2016 blog post titled Strengthening Accreditation to Protect Students, stated that USDE is increasing the rigor of our fact-finding process with accreditors coming up for review this summer, as well as in other review and recognition processes going forward. Mitchell said that accreditation “can and must be a mark of quality that the public expects,” which necessitates USDE working to strengthen accreditation through an increased focus on outcomes.
Starting with the June 22-24, 2016 meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), the committee that advises the Secretary of Education on recognition of accrediting organizations, accreditors coming before the Committee for recognition review will be required to respond to questions about its standards and practices concerning lower-performing institutions as part of assisting USDE in its decisions concerning recognition for each organization. (See the Draft Plan for NACIQI’s June, 2016 meeting.)
NEW USDE DEPUTY UNDER SECRETARY ANNOUNCED
Kim Hunter Reed, the former chief of staff for the Louisiana Board of Regents and a former executive vice president for the University of Louisiana System, has been named Deputy Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. Reed was a Principal at HCM Strategists, a public policy and advocacy consulting firm focusing on issues related to education and health, for four years. She succeeds Jamienne Studley, who left USDE at the end of 2015. Studley was involved in USDE initiatives including the College Scorecard, new regulations addressing gainful employment and teacher preparation programs requirements. (For more information, see Inside Higher Ed).