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State Board Report

December 2015

Post-secondary school closures and their effects on students have prompted the U.S. Department of Education to strive to work more closely with accreditors and states in order to strengthen the integrity of its Title IV student aid programs. On November 5, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced steps under current law to increase transparency and promote outcomes-driven accountability of higher education. They included:

  • Publishing each accreditor’s standards for evaluating student outcomes.
  • Increasing transparency in the accreditation process and in institutional oversight.
  • Increasing coordination within the Department of Education and among accreditors, other agencies and states to improve oversight.
  • Publishing key student and institutional metrics for postsecondary institutions arranged by accreditors.
  • Promoting greater attention to outcomes within current accreditor review processes.

The Department of Education is recommending that Congress provide for differentiated recognition of accreditors based on student outcomes and other risk-based criteria. This would allow the Department to provide more rigorous processes for low-performing accreditors and to fast-track recognition for high-performing accreditors. "This critical reform would provide an incentive for accreditors to scrutinize the student outcomes of the schools in their portfolios and focus their time and attention on lower-performing schools," the Department explains.

Information on accreditation is available on the Department of Education’s accreditation homepage. This includes a listing of "programmatic accreditors." Among them are the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, American Bar Association, Accreditation Council on Optometric Education and other professional groups that consider as "specific outcomes" the licensure examination pass rate of the schools’ students. Most of these programmatic accreditors require an accreditation review at least once every seven years.

At the 2015 NASBA Annual Meeting, speakers included Dr. Robert D. Reid, Executive Vice President and Chief Accreditation Officer of the AACSB, which accredits 745 business schools, from which approximately 40 percent of CPA candidates come. NASBA received information on CPA candidates coming from 2,013 schools in 2014. NASBA and the AICPA are sponsoring a meeting with accreditation agencies early in 2016.

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