ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

Department of Education Proposes Promising Accreditation Reforms

June 13, 2019

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education issued a proposal to loosen federal standards for accreditors. The stated intent of the proposal is to ignite more innovation in higher education as rigid accreditation standards often stand in the way of institutional autonomy. Critics worry that the proposal will allow Title IV federal student aid funds to flow to colleges that are failing their students. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos remained firm in her defense, stating “With these reforms, our nation’s colleges and universities can spend more time and effort on serving students and less time, energy, and money focused on bureaucratic compliance.”

ACTA has long held that our current accreditation system fails to uphold high academic standards, while unfortunately succeeding to enforce rigid standards, prevent innovation, and interfere with institutional values and missions. The Department of Education’s proposal seems to be a step in the right direction. Clauses four and five are of particular interest:

“(4) Provide greater flexibility for institutions to engage in innovative educational practices more expeditiously and meet local and national workforce needs; (5) protect institutional autonomy, honor individual campus missions, and afford institutions the opportunity to build campus communities based upon shared values.”

The Department’s proposal is yet another reflection of the growing bipartisan push for substantive reform to higher education accreditation. It is our hope that this task will be taken up by Congress in a way that will lead to better outcomes for institutions, students, taxpayers, and the nation.


Media Contact: Doug Sprei, Director of Communications

media@goacta.org   (202) 467-0376