Not surprising news coming out of North Central’s annual meeting this week. As Inside Higher Edreports, most speakers echoed the same message: the Obama administration is as intent as the Bush administration on holding higher education institutions accountable–if not more so. And if institutions fail to heed these warnings, undesirable top-down requirements may soon follow. Some evidence that we’re moving in this direction? A recently released*draft* guide to accreditation from the Department of Ed, which was found to be highly prescriptive on the requirements for faculty credentials and student achievement, among other issues — head on over to IHE to get the full run-down.
What is your institution doing to heed the call for more accountability, and how are you being affected?
When an institution undergoes the accreditation process (or, more commonly, the re-accredition process), some become concerned with the lack of interaction that accreditation site teams have with faculty and students. Did CSU Fullerton have an experience with WASC that involved more than just a select few?
According to the Daily Titan, CSU Fullerton’s campus newspaper, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (or WASC — the regional accrediting body responsible for accrediting CSUF) engaged students during an open forum hosted by the accreditation site team. Students were asked about the helpfulness of student services and the reason why they came to CSUF, as well as about the conditions of their student-faculty relationships. In this context, students were able to voice their concerns about furlough days, fewer classes and budget cuts.
Reflecting today’s focus on outcomes, site teams also zeroed in on student learning and assessment mechanisms. In addition, the teams looked for evidence of student engagement, demonstrated by co-curricular experiences like student-faculty collaboration and participation in clubs to promote strong leadership skills.
While it is heartening to see that students’ voices were heard by the site team, there’s no mention of substantial faculty interaction (although that may have been the case, just not the focus of this article). But I do wonder to what degree were the faculty, professional staff, faculty senates and local union representatives consulted during site team visits? And what about on your campus? What are your experiences with accreditation or reaccreditation? What kinds of standards would you like to see for accreditation, and what others would you change? Let us know in the comment section.
The American Federation of Teachers believes that accountability should be about making sure students have resources to learn and succeed: rich curricula, excellent facilities, talented—and well-supported—faculty, and robust academic standards that are devised and improved by the people who deliver them. This website is designed to serve not only as a clearinghouse of accountability initiatives at the international, national, state and local levels, but also as a starting point for discussing accountability systems that best help our students succeed.