SARA, or “State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements” is a voluntary approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education. Each of the regional education compacts (MHEC, NEBHE, SREB, and WICHE) and the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) works with a multitude of agencies from education providers through elected officials to streamline the process of authorizing institutions across state borders, ensuring students the education they expect.
In 2018, utilizing data gathered from surveys and available from SHEEO and SREB SARA, NCHEMS performed an analysis of the savings to SREB SARA member states compared to seeking authorization on their own. With demonstrated savings in the hundreds of millions of dollars, NC-SARA requested that NCHEMS conduct the same study on a national level across the four compacts.
At the same time, NCHEMS is also working with NC-SARA to begin the process of normalizing quality standards regarding distance learning – a process that must first identify differing and overlapping quality standards across states and accrediting bodies, observing those standards in practice, and then finally identifying a starting point and direction so that NC-SARA can lead the normalization process.