Category: Accreditation


The U.S. Senate’s bipartisan “task force” committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, chaired by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), released its report on ways Congress and the U.S. Department of Education could streamline and hopefully reduce federal regulations now overwhelming America’s 6,000 colleges and universities–especially the nation’s approximately 4,000 private institutions–while still protecting students and holding schools accountable to taxpayers.

According to the committee’s press release, “The task force’s objective was to provide specific recommendations on reducing, eliminating or streamlining duplicative, costly or confusing regulations and reporting requirements to Congress and the administration in anticipation of the ninth reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.”

Senate education committee Chairman Alexander said, “The stack of federal regulations on colleges and universities today, which stretches as tall as I am, is simply the piling up of well-intentioned laws and regulations, done without anyone first weeding the garden. This report will guide our efforts to weed the garden and allow colleges to spend more of their time and money educating students, instead of filling out mountains of paperwork.”

Alexander announced a hearing on February 24 to discuss the findings of the report.

You can read the committee’s report here in pdf.

Gordon College, a Christian liberal arts institution in Massachusetts–ironically, the original American colony founded to preserve and protect religious freedom, has been threatened with loss of its regional accreditation for not allowing “sexual relations outside of marriage” and “homosexual practice.” Its regional accreditation body, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, is no longer hiding its role as an agent of secularism and its hostility toward any higher education institution that actually takes Christian ethics and beliefs seriously.

According to the blog, Stands to Reason,

“Gordon College has been given 18 months to recant. If they do not change the standards for sexual behavior in their “life and conduct statement” (which prohibit “sexual relations outside of marriage” and “homosexual practice”), they will lose their accreditation*:

The higher education commission of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges met last week and “considered whether Gordon College’s traditional inclusion of ‘homosexual practice’ as a forbidden activity” runs afoul of the commission’s standards for accreditation, according to a joint statement from NEASC and Gordon College.

The commission asked Gordon College to submit a report next September. The report should describe the process by which the college has approached its review of the policy “to ensure that the College’s policies and procedures are non-discriminatory,” the statement said….

In its joint statement, NEASC and Gordon College called the review process a “period of discernment” that will take place over the next 12 to 18 months…. [The president of NEASC’s higher education commission] said the long time frame that Gordon College has been allowed for the review is appropriate considering that Gordon College’s policy is “deeply embedded in the culture of the college” and such things “don’t change overnight.”

How reasonable of the commission to give Gordon College 18 months to come to terms with overturning the thousands-of-years-old Christian view of acceptable sexual behavior.

This 18-month reprieve is nothing but theater, of course. Gordon College will not convince the commission their standards are “non-discriminatory.” Gordon College will explain the difference between behavior and identity, between a person with same-sex attractions who agrees with the biblical standards and one who doesn’t, and the difference between banning a person because of his sexual orientation and banning particular behaviors among all students that go against the biblical view. And then the commission will reject it.

How do I know this? Because this is what happened earlier this year when Gordon College publicly argued for the “right of faith-based institutions to set and adhere to standards which derive from our shared framework of faith.” That controversy ended with the termination of their city contract to maintain Salem’s historical Old Town Hall and their student teachers being removed from public schools.

This assault on Christian higher education was launched earlier this year by Peter Conn in the Chronicle for Higher Education.  So this latest action from NEASC is the logical extension of this kind of liberal hegemony against all things Christian. First Amendment–and multiculturalism–be damned.

Updated Sunday, July 6
Professor Peter Conn, an English professor at the University of Pennsylvania, provides a frightening example of how tyrannical secularism has become in the contemporary academy. He wants accreditors to stop accrediting religiously affiliated colleges. Conn makes a compelling case for importance of Christian accreditation of Christian colleges. If Conn and his allies have their way, Christian colleges will soon either be denied accreditation or be secularized; they can’t sustain their doctrinal distinctives under Conn’s vision of a “legitimate” university. Only secularism is worthy of accreditation under his doctrine. He states,

“By awarding accreditation to religious colleges, the process confers legitimacy on institutions that systematically undermine the most fundamental purposes of higher education. Skeptical and unfettered inquiry is the hallmark of American teaching and research. However, such inquiry cannot flourish—in many cases, cannot even survive—inside institutions that erect religious tests for truth.”

Secular hegemony raging  like this within regionally accredited institutions puts pressure on regional accreditors to disallow religiously diverse  institutions within their orbit.

I suspect Peter Conn wants to be the Secular Academy’s Pope. So much for “unfettered” inquiry.

Check out these two other excellent responses to Conn by Rod Dreher and Alan Jacobs.

Jacobs says, “Peter Conn is right about one thing: college accreditation is a mess. But his comments about religious colleges are thoughtless, uninformed, and bigoted.”

See Conn’s whole rant in The Chronicle of Higher Education here: The Great Accreditation Farce.

Thanks to Keith Saare for the heads up on Conn’s editorial.

A new proficiency- or competency-based approach to college transfer credits developed in the Western U.S. may finally move colleges away from the old, but woefully inadequate “credit-hour” system. The question is who will define and measure competency at the “core knowledge” level and by what standard.

This approach has potential (giving priority to the importance of what is learned rather than how much time was spent [possibly?] learning a subject), but also harbors some dangers (government bureaucrats or ideologues may control how learning, knowledge, and competency are actually defined and politicize higher education even more than it already is). Such an approach may lead to greater standardization (and less diversity) and greater control, principally by the federal government and the U.S. Department of Education via the financial aid system. We shall see.

Stay tuned. 

Here’s an article from Inside Higher Ed on the matter.

Updated Nov. 1–I led a workshop at this week’s Transnational Association for Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) annual conference in San Diego on transfer issues and resources for dealing with transfers and graduate admission problems. Thanks to all those who attended and contributed to this important discussion.

The workshop explained how transfers between nationally and regionally accredited institutions should work and how to meet the challenge when they don’t.

The two sample letters attendees requested are provided below:

Transfer Advice to Students

Model Letter to Institutions Denying TRACS Transfers 

The six regional accreditor transfer guidelines are found at the Accreditation link.

Continue reading

CHEA President Judith Eaton speaks to the challenges and opportunities ahead for our system of higher education accreditation in this podcast just released by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Worth a listen.

Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA)

Transfer Credit, Prior Learning, and Articulation

The Commission’s requirements with respect to transfer and articulation are governed by Standards 8 (Student Admissions) and 11 (Educational Offerings) of Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education. Assessing experiential learning for credit is addressed in Standard 13 (Related Educational Activities). Although admission standards are the responsibility and prerogative of the institution, the Commission is required to confirm for the U.S.  Department of Education certain aspects of an institution’s transfer of credit policies. Continue reading

New England Association of Schools & Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

Transfer and Award of Academic Credit

This statement is directed to institutions of postsecondary education and others concerned with the transfer of academic credit among institutions and award of academic credit for extra-institutional learning. Basic to this statement is the principle that each institution is responsible for determining its own policies and practices with regard to the transfer and award of credit.  Institutions are encouraged to review their policies and practices periodically to ensure that they accomplish the institution’s objectives and that they function in a manner that is fair and equitable to students.  Any statements, this one or others referred to, should be used as guides, not as substitutes, for institutional policies and practices. Continue reading

North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Policy and Good Practices on Transfer of Credit

TRANSFER OF CREDIT  (policy I.C.6)

Each institution determines its own policies and procedures for accepting transfer credits, including credits from ac- credited and non-accredited institutions, from non-U.S. institutions, and from institutions that grant credit for experiential learning and for adult learner programs. An institution’s periodic review of its transfer policies and procedures should include evaluation of their clarity to those who administer them, to the students who follow them, and to employers and other stakeholders. It should also include the consistency of their interpretation and application throughout the institution,  and their responsiveness to new types of learning opportunities outside institutions of higher education. Continue reading

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Transfer and Award of Academic Credit Policy

Policy 2.5 Transfer and Award of Academic Credit

This statement is directed to institutions of higher education and others concerned with the transfer of academic credit among institutions and award of academic credit for extra-institutional learning. Basic to this statement is the principle that each institution is responsible for determining its own policies and practices with regard to the transfer and award of credit. Institutions are urged to review their policies and practices periodically to ensure that they accomplish the institution’s goals and that they function in a manner that is fair and equitable to students. Any statements, this one or others referred to, should be used as guides, not as substitutes, for institutional policies and practices. Continue reading