A push for more accountability is changing the accreditation process
changing the university accreditation
process from one that focuses
mainly on the qualities of individual
institutions to one that also examines
students’ long-term career outcomes,
said speakers at an APA 2011 Annual
Convention session on accreditation.
Do today’s college students graduate
with the skills they need to succeed?
That’s the question the federal
government and other higher
education stakeholders — from
students and parents to banks and
the business community in general
— want answered.
That push for accountability is
Quality and Integrity.
“Do students learn what is
Accreditation officials are increasingly focused on what universities produce, said
Dr. Susan D. Phillips, of the University at Albany, State University of New York.
intended? Do they get the intended
outcomes of the programs of study?
Years after graduating, what happens?
It’s a very different emphasis, and a very different definition of
what quality is,” Phillips said.
What that means for anyone teaching at the postsecondary
level is more federal scrutiny about how you do your job, said
Susan Zlotlow, PhD, of APA’s Office of Program Consultation
and Accreditation. Accreditors and other stakeholders are most
• Future employment success. Since 1998, the U.S.
Department of Education has been looking at student
achievement. In 2011, Congress began looking for ways to
about $150 billion a year in higher education loans and other
supports to students. Congress wants a better way to measure
whether students who took out those loans are able to pay
them back, Phillips said.
• Graduation rates. Parents and student applicants want a
way to compare graduation rates among different institutions.
One potential impact for educators is greater scrutiny
during the accreditation process of how they conduct their
courses, Zlotlow said. For example, as of July 1 of this year, the
U.S. Department of Education has regulations in effect that
measure whether completing a program results in gainful
employment in that field, Zlotlow said. Those measures of
“gainful employment” could eventually impact all of higher
• Return on investment. The federal government provides
formally define a credit hour as one hour of classroom “seat
time” and two hours of homework, she said. “Your class could
be sampled, and you’ll have to justify both the seat time and out
of class time,” she said.