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APLU: Risk-Based Accreditation Would Better Allocate Resources to Focus on Schools with Greatest Need for Increased Oversight

June 22, 2016

Washington, DC – Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson today released the following statement urging the adoption of a risk-based approach to accreditation in order to ensure the time and resources of accreditors are better focused on schools with the greatest need for increased oversight. The U.S. Department of Education last year told accreditors they were permitted to use a risk-based approach. McPherson’s remarks come on the same day that Under Secretary Ted Mitchell spoke before the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) on the need to ensure that college accreditors are "focused on the right things."

“Under the current system accreditors generally review every post-secondary institution with the same level of detail and intensity regardless of an institution’s past academic track record.  This means that schools with a long and consistent history of superb academic performance are examined the same as schools with much weaker student outcomes.  This is a misallocation of resources. 

“Institutions with weaker outcomes often need a more careful review than schools with stronger track records that end up almost always being reaccredited to no one’s surprise.  A risk-based accreditation process would ensure all schools are subject to a review, but that schools with a strong track record do not need to go through the same extensive and expensive review process as those with weak programs and poor student outcomes. 

“At a time when the integrity of the accreditation process has come into question, risk-based accreditation is a common sense approach that would free up the time and resources of accreditors to focus more on the institutions that need greater attention.  This would help better protect students and taxpayers by maximizing the time of accreditors.

“As the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity prepares its formal recommendations to the Department of Education, we urge that it strongly encourage accreditors to move forward with risk-based accreditation, which the Department has deemed worthwhile.”

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