Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Is college accreditation worth while?

I haven't thought about this before. George Leef make a powerful claim against our current system of college accreditation in Quality Guarantee or a Waste of Money?

The column isn't very long and worth reading. A couple paragraphs jumped out at me:

Accreditation teams do not attempt to find out whether, for example, graduates have improved their reading and writing abilities. The growing public perception that many students waste their college years on “beer and circus” has caused the accrediting agencies to pay lip service to learning outcomes, but their efforts have been futile. The authors explain: “Since 1992, accreditors have been required to collect evidence of student learning, but the college lobby has ensured that these are self designed assessments.”

In other words, schools get by with low standards as long as they have policies in place that are supposed to eventually improve them. Accreditation doesn’t require proof of results, just that officials look like they’re doing something to improve them.

Too often we've heard of cases where a public school teacher was credentialed, but couldn't teach. Just having a piece of paper saying someone can teach doesn't mean they really can teach.

College accreditation seems like a similar problem. George writes about some cases where the colleges were doing a great job but really had to struggled to be accredited.


Crimson Wife said...

Caveat emptor. Grad schools and many career licensing boards typically require students to be graduates of accredited schools. The accreditation process may leave much to be desired, but I wouldn't pay a cent towards my children's attendance at an unaccredited school.

Henry Cate said...

Crimson Wife, do you think things will get better or worse? My fear is that like the K-12 schools, colleges will continue to get more expensive and many will not provide a decent education. At some I think things will have to change, but I haven't figured out what will happen.

If at some point a student can get a better education for a tenth the price at a unaccredited school and businesses see the value of the education, I think the expensive accredited schools will be in trouble.