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Trustees | Trusteeship

Better Quality Control for Colleges

College accreditation has proved a regulatory failure by almost any measure.
WALL STREET JOURNAL   |  February 22, 2015 by Anne D. Neal

Higher education is suffering from a crisis in quality and cost, but the Obama administration is profoundly wrong in thinking that a new federal rating system is the answer (“Federal Ratings of Colleges Tied to Aid Hit Bump,” U.S. News, Feb. 11). What is needed—and is easily in reach as Congress prepares to reauthorize the Higher Education Act—is an overhaul of the existing quality-control system that has produced the problem.

An outdated relic of the 1950s, accreditation has proved a regulatory failure by almost any measure, failing to ensure quality, contributing to spiraling costs and interfering with the autonomy and independence of our colleges and universities. Rather than perpetuating this failing system or devising a college-rating structure as the president wishes, Congress can grant federal financial aid only to those schools that provide audited and transparent data on key matters such as demographics, graduation rates, cost and perhaps most important, actual student learning gains. This system will give consumers the information they need while ensuring that hard-earned taxpayer dollars go only to schools that are preparing students for success.

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