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Planning for Higher Education Journal

The Future of Accreditation

Journal Cover
From Volume 40 Number 3 | April–June 2012
By Judith Eaton

Accreditation, the primary means of assuring and improving quality in U.S. higher education, is the oldest and most diverse quality review system in the world. During the 1950s, accreditation entered into a public-private partnership with the federal government, serving as the nation’s reliable authority on academic quality. While this partnership has been effective in many ways, it is now undergoing major change as the expanding governmental regulatory authority to judge quality eclipses accreditation’s collegial model of quality review. This shift challenges the core values of both accreditation and higher education and threatens heretofore successful practices such as the judging of quality by academics and institutional self-determination. While fully countering an expansion of governmental authority is unlikely, action from the academic community is essential to contain this expansion and preserve core academic values.

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