Friday, September 11, 2015

CBE Approvals: Tugged in Two Directions - Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed

A surge in new competency-based degree programs has created challenges for the accreditors tasked with approving them. They must seek to ensure academic quality without quashing promising ideas, while also dealing with sluggish and sometimes confusing guidance from the federal government. That was the message from top officials of three regional accrediting agencies, who spoke to a group the Council on Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) brought together here.While many colleges are mulling direct assessment, few have moved forward. The U.S. Department of Education has granted approval to just three institutions so far. The feds’ blessing is important because it allows programs to be eligible for federal financial aid.Elizabeth Sibolski, president of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, didn’t mince words when she described how the commission has worked with the department on colleges’ applications for direct-assessment programs. The process “has been incredibly frustrating,” she said. “I am really rather disappointed.”

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