Commission Says Better Accountability a National Imperative for Higher Education

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WASHINGTON

A national commission of political, business and higher education leaders have called for a "fresh approach" to educational accountability, citing increasing global competition, low rates of college completion and a gap in college access and success for minority students as evidence of a struggling U.S. education system.

"For over 50 years, the United States could rightfully claim to have the finest system of higher education in the world in terms of access, graduates and research," the National Commission on Accountability in Higher Education says in its report, "Accountability for Better Results: A National Imperative for Higher Education."

"Today this basic assumption is under challenge."

The commission, chaired by former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, says a new system of accountability is needed to "put more emphasis on successful student learning and high quality research, decrease the role of superficial comparisons and rankings, increase productivity, and provide parents, students, concerned citizens and policy-makers the answers to reasonable questions regarding costs."

The commission calls the current system of accountability "cumbersome, confusing and inefficient," and says it "fails to answer key questions, provides excessive misleading data and overburdens institutions."

The report notes that "too often accountability is a battleground between educators and policy-makers, educational leaders, faculty and students to set and meet challenging goals, respect the boundaries between different roles and work at common purposes. …