Higher Education Accreditation
How It's Changing, Why It Must

Foreword by Eduardo M. Ochoa
Cloth: 978 1 57922 762 3 / $37.50
 
Published: December 2013  

Lib E-Book: 978 1 57922 764 7 / $95.00  
About Library E-Book

Published: December 2013  

E-Book: 978 1 57922 765 4 / $29.99
 
Published: December 2013  

Publisher: Stylus Publishing
240 pp., 6" x 9"
Is the accreditation system “broken” as claimed by successive Secretaries of Education and some recent reports?

This book addresses this question head-on, asking whether accreditation is indeed in need of radical reform, and whether the agencies’ authority should be curtailed; or whether in fact the changes now underway – that accrediting agencies contend ensure rigorous and consistent standards and degrees that are a reliable gauge of student attainment – are moving the academy and the nation in the right direction.

In a sweeping and ambitious book, Paul Gaston deploys his knowledge and experience as a peer reviewer for three regional accrediting agencies, a former board member and chair of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors, and his involvement in the early stages of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, to go beyond the polemics to explore whether a strategy that builds on the emerging values and good practices can achieve the substantive and positive improvements the public is demanding.

As an introduction for readers new to the debate, he provides a brief overview of the development of accreditation, its terminology, and structure, describing how it currently works, and what it has achieved; and offers insight into the proliferation of the missions of accreditation – as well as the multiplicity of stakeholders with an interest in its outcomes – to question whether the mandate of accreditation should, as some contend, be expanded, or particular missions reassigned or abandoned.

This established, he undertakes a dispassionate analysis of the arguments and recommendations of critics and supporters of the current direction of accreditation to identify common ground and explore constructive ways forward, paying specific attention to current and potential reforms of the three sectors of higher education accreditation: the seven regional accrediting associations, the national accreditors, and programmatic, or “specialized” accreditation.

The book concludes by outlining a comprehensive approach to reform. His proposal would preserve practices that already work well while advancing important changes that can be incrementally implemented. The result would be a higher education accreditation structure more cost effective, more efficient, more transparent and accountable, and more responsive to institutional and public needs.

Table of Contents:
Foreword - Eduardo M. Ochoa
Preface: The State of the Union and the State of Accreditation
Acknowledgments
Introduction

1. QUESTIONS THAT SHOULD BE FREQUENTLY ASKED
2. MANY MISSIONS, MANY MASTERS: AN EVOLVING CHALLENGE
3. WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS?: ISSUES CONCERNING ACCREDITATION
4. WHAT’S TO BE DONE? INDICTMENTS AND PROPOSALS
5. HOW REGIONAL ACCREDITATION IS CHANGING—AND WHY IT MUST
6. HOW NATIONAL ACCREDITATION IS CHANGING—AND WHY IT MUST
7. HOW SPECIALIZED ACCREDITATION IS CHANGING—AND WHY IT MUST
8. CONSIDERING PRIORITIES FOR CHANGE AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME

Appendix A: An Acronymic Guide to Accreditation

References
Index


Reviews & Endorsements:
“Accreditation is the lighting rod of higher education, but few understand the nuanced complex changes in the field. Political leaders want to assure that students can transition from two- to four-year institutions without losing credits. University leaders want accreditation to cost less and be less intrusive. Students want it to make colleges more affordable.
Few authors could write a book on accreditation that diverse stakeholders would demand in their library, but Paul Gaston has crafted a balanced, thoughtful explanation of accreditation. With higher education changing faster than it has at any period in its history, Gaston’s book is a must-read to understand the sea change impacting higher education and how accreditation can impact our future."
- Robert G. Frank, President, The University of New Mexico
“There is a remarkable lack of awareness of the considerable work of the past twenty-five years in assessment of learning, in shifting to student-centered pedagogies, in explicit formulation of learning outcomes, and in developing continuous improvement processes in higher education. Paul Gaston is absolutely right that higher education needs to articulate a shared vision of our work and its significance for the nation. Without such a vision, the issues will be framed by others who are less well-informed, and the policy consequences will be—and have been—unfortunate. Paul Gaston’s thoughtful book gives us a balanced assessment of American higher-education accreditation and recommends a measured set of reforms to meet the challenges of this new era.”
- Eduardo M. Ochoa, President, California State University, Monterey Bay, and former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education
Related Titles by Subject:
See Assessment & Accreditation ( Higher Education )