Academic journal article Journal of Applied Research in the Community College

College Accreditation: Accountability?

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Research in the Community College

College Accreditation: Accountability?

Article excerpt

The following citations for research and resource materials focus on college accreditation.


Accreditation is a "voluntary" and periodic, peerbased review system of higher education institutions and programs designed to maintain academic quality, fiscal integrity, and promote organizational improvement. The formal review of colleges and universities has been an ongoing process for more than 100 years and a requirement for institutions seeking federal funds - student grants and loans as well as research and program funds - since 1952. At one level, accreditation aims to ensure accountability, while allowing for institutional independence and flexibility. It also acts as a gatekeeper for developing and existing colleges. No uniform standard exists among the 11 autonomous national accreditors and more than 60 specialized accrediting organizations. The abstracts presented explore the pros and cons of college accreditation through qualitative and quantitative methods, but also highlight the dearth of accrediting agency case study research that would allow for comparisons across agencies. The research findings offer broad implications for institutional direction and transformation, policy makers, researchers, academics, and the public. ERIC documents (references with "ED" numbers) may be read on microfiche at approximately 900 libraries worldwide. In addition, the full text of many documents is available online at http:/ / Journal articles may be acquired through regular library channels, from the originating journal publisher, or for a fee from the following article reproduction vendor, Ingenta; email:, phone: 617395-4046, toll-free: 1-800-296-2221, URL: http://

Eaton, J. S. (2006). An overview of U.S. accreditation.Washington, DC: Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

This publication provides a general description of the key features of U.S. accreditation of higher education and recognition of accrediting organizations. Accreditation in the United States is about quality assurance and quality improvement. It is a process to scrutinize higher education institutions and programs. Accreditation is private (non-governmental) and nonprofit - an outgrowth of the higher education community and not of government. It is funded primarily by the institutions and programs that are accredited. Accreditation has a complex relationship with government, especially in relation to funding higher education. It adds value to society through assuring quality, enabling government to make sound judgments about the use of public funds, aiding the private sector in decisions about financial support, and easing transfer of credit. Recognition in the United States is about scrutiny of the quality and effectiveness of accrediting organizations. It is carried out by the higher education enterprise through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a private body, and by the United States Department of Education (USDE). CHEA recognition is funded by institutional dues; USDE recognition is funded by the U.S. Congress. The goals of the two recognition processes are different. CHEA assures that accrediting organizations contribute to maintaining and improving academic quality. USDE assures that accrediting organizations contribute to maintaining the soundness of institutions and programs that receive federal funds. The two recognition processes are similar: self-evaluation based on standards, site visit and report, and award of recognition status. Recognition adds value to society as a vital part of accreditation accountability or "accrediting the accreditors."

Council for Higher Education Accreditation. (2003). Profile of accreditation: Fact sheet. Washington, DC: Author.

This fact sheet presents information about the accreditation of institutions of higher education in the United States. In the United States, in 2002, 6,421 institutions were accredited, and 18,713 programs were accredited. …

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