Friday, July 06, 2012

Interesting article on Grade Inflation and Accreditation in Higher Education

Paul Rahe makes some interesting points in Grade Inflation & Accreditation in Higher Education.  The article starts with:

When I returned from my sojourn at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland on Tuesday after having the catheter out the previous day, I found a pile of mail waiting for me – the usual bills, a get-well card from a kind nephew, and so forth. Among the items was an issue of Inside Academe, which is published by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA: – an outfit that serves a watchdog function with regard to the madness that has American higher education in its grip and that seeks to interest alumni and trustees in setting things straight.
On the third page was an article that caught my eye. It begins:
America’s higher-education accreditation system is broken. The current system – which forces schools to be certified by regional accreditors in order to receive federal money – was created to safeguard taxpayer dollars. But today it safeguards mediocrity and the status quo.
Once a school receives accreditation, it hardly ever loses that status, but new schools – especially innovative schools – often find it prohibitively difficult to obtain accreditation. The system misleads parents into believing that accreditation equals quality, and it wastes piles of money. Christopher Eisgruber, provost of Princeton University, testified that renewing accreditation can cost a single college or university over $1 million and hundreds of hours of staff time.
The claims advanced in these two paragraphs, in fact, understate the problem. The accreditation system was originally set up by colleges and universities with an eye to separating the sheep from the goats so that parents could have some idea of what they were getting into. The federal government had nothing to do with it. But the old order was hijacked a long time ago, and in the process yet another instrument was created for the micro-management by the federal government of entities that would not otherwise fall under its jurisdiction. The maneuver is simple. To get federal funding, a school must be accredited, and to get accreditation they must meet certain standards.

Hat tip: Instapundit

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