Accreditation: Are the Inmates Running the Asylum?

On paper, accreditation is an amazing system. Among other things, it simultaneously advises colleges on how to improve, enforces a minimum level of quality, provides needed information to policy makers, and protects colleges from government intrusion. It does all this with only a few hundred employees, and a few thousand volunteers. Indeed if accreditation actually accomplished all it claims to, it would be one of the best systems ever devised.

The only problem is that accreditation accomplishes almost none of what it is supposed to. The advice given to colleges is often inappropriate; accreditors refuse to define quality, let alone enforce a minimum level of it; the entire process is shrouded in secrecy, providing almost no information to outsiders; and while still relatively successful in shielding colleges from government intrusion, accreditors have too often used their quasi-governmental power to behave in just as dictatorial a manner. Accreditation needs to be reformed.

Read CCAP’s full report, prepared by Daniel Bennett, Richard Vedder and myself, for a detailed analysis of these problems and our proposed solutions, which would move us toward an outcomes-based quality control certification system.


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