Accreditation Reform Proposals

Accreditation Reform Proposals

NCHEMS has been asked by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to undertake a review of how institutional accreditation for higher education in the United States might be substantially re-envisioned.  The major result is a “white paper” on this topic authored by the Center’s Vice President Peter T. Ewell.  The paper is constructed on the premise that regional accreditors will remain principal actors in the quality assurance space for U.S. higher education and that they will retain their current role as gatekeepers for federal funds.  An important implication of this assumption is that existing organizations will, for the most part, need to be transformed or re-purposed rather than new organizations created.  Doing this will require a deliberate and specific strategy for implementation, as well as a compelling picture of the desired future state of affairs.  While the focus is mostly on regional accreditation, the reforms suggested have substantial implications for national and faith-based accreditors as well.

This web page provides several versions of this work. The first is the fully documented white paper with all references and context. The second is a “short” version centered on eleven specific reform proposals. The last two are two-pagers that outline the proposals themselves and the concrete implementation steps that will be needed to make this happen.  All these papers are now under review by people in Washington (and elsewhere) including staff at the DOE, Senator Lamar Alexander’s staff (Alexander is chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions which will be the office leading Senate efforts to reauthorize the Higher Education Opportunity Act), and other Hill staff. Gates will be underwriting an invitational meeting later this year in DC to be hosted by New America Foundation. This page also includes Peter Ewell’s response to Lamar Alexander’s policy paper on accreditation reform (also included).  The page will be updated as new materials are developed in the coming year.

Please direct any comments on these documents to Peter Ewell at peter@nchems.org.