DEAC/Higher Digital

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by Kizmet, Feb 17, 2020.

  1. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I have said for years--right here on this board--that DEAC should evolve into a programmatic accreditor of DL programs.

    When the National Home Study Council--DEAC's predecessor--got into accredited degree-granting institutions, it was at first to do mostly applied associate degrees. But they did a couple of bachelor's degrees, too--LaSalle and Grantham. When the RAs were--for the most part--slow to take on this market niche, DETC (at that time) moved into the void "bigly," accrediting DL schools offering degrees through the master's. They were doing what the RAs largely weren't. But things didn't remain that way.

    It wasn't too long before the RAs had to pay attention to nontraditional DL schools because traditional B&M schools were just bursting with online programs. This, in my opinion, made the DETC quite obsolete and a second-tier accreditor. DETC accreditation was easier and faster to get, and it was available to schools that could not meet RA standards. In fact, it was many years before any DETC-accredited schools made the leap to RA--further cementing the notion that DETC (now DEAC) was inferior. That remains to this day, with the slight change in that a few schools have gone on to RA, which makes DEAC look more like a junior accreditor for start-ups and never-will-be schools.

    The bottom line: DEAC lost any uniqueness it once had before the RAs stepped in.

    But DL at RA schools was a hit-and-miss proposition in terms of quality of content and delivery. In many ways, they still are. This is the void to fill I've advocated--RA schools would be much better at DL if their DL programs were accredited by DEAC. And such a move would give DEAC a new lease on life.

    I don't know if this is the first step, nor to what extent they'll take things. But I do know I like the sound of it.
  3. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Didn't DEAC also do a course evaluation/not quite accreditation thing for a while too?

    I suspect they are trying to branch out and diversify that revenue a bit.

    As for DEAC being unique? Honestly, I don't care. If a function of our society is going to the private sector then I'd like it to be a free market. If the government is going to handle it through government agencies that's fine too. This idea of anointing private entities with monopolies, however, doesn't sit well with me.

    The only reason DEAC is "second tier" is because of numbers. RA accredits more schools and more prestigious schools. If they can shut out DEAC credits from transferring or undergrad degrees from qualifying for admission to grad/professional programs then that's all that is really needed to "win" the battle. Uniqueness doesn't really come into play.

    The fact is that the whole world of higher ed has been blending together for quite some time. We even have community colleges offering the sorts of things that were more commonly found at four years schools. Some of them are offering bachelors degrees. The line between a community college and just any other college blurs when we do that. What should differentiate Onondaga Community College from a SUNY school? Aren't we just creating a junior tier of state schools? Is that bad? In some areas they were known, after all, as "junior colleges."

    Years ago the idea that an NA school would have serious programmatic accreditation would have seemed wildly unlikely. DEAC has schools getting programmatic accreditation in nursing and engineering. That ain't nothing. Consider for a moment, why would programmatic accreditors even have an RA requirement? If a DEAC school can make the grade with AACSB then shouldn't AACSB be happy to accredit them? If the goal is ensuring quality education then sure. If the goal is just trying to keep out competition then no.

    We are also at a point of unprecedented dilution of RA credibility. Didn't some politician threaten to have HLC's recognition by DOE revoked over Phoenix once?

    It's a two tier system not because NA schools are necessarily inferior. It's a two tier system because the top tier has millions of dollars worth of lobbying dollars at their disposal and they use them to create barriers to entry so that they won't suffer from competition. That's kind of why I would prefer the government to evaluate schools themselves for handing out government funds or, better yet, stop handing taxpayer dollars to private institutions altogether.
  4. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    The history of accreditation belies this. Very few schools have made the leap from DEAC to a regional accreditor. Lots of schools choose (and chose) DEAC because it is more attainable than is regional accreditation. There must be reasons for this.

    DEAC has accredited some really bad schools in the past, and has gone past its charter by accrediting foreign universities, even though awarding the PhD. (They seem out of that business now.) DEAC is no ACICS, certainly, and I think they're pretty thorough when it comes to instructional content and delivery. But it was something like two decades before a DEAC/DETC-accredited school became regionally accredited. It can't all be chalked up to the regional accreditation cartel.
  5. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    People outside the United States often have a hard time understanding our accreditation system. They have a hard time understanding why regional and national accreditors are both recognized equally by the US Department of Education while at the same time there are all of these debates about equality online by the public.

    What I like about the UK's system is that you're either recognized as a degree-granting institution or you're not worth a second thought. It leaves nothing to debate on that end, and forces people to do what makes the most sense: judge each recognized school individually on nothing else other than how things are run and the outcomes it produces. It appears the US Department of Education now sees the merit of that as well:

    However, as long as previously-called regional accreditors can be allowed to identify themselves as regional accreditors, I can't imagine a situation where they wouldn't continue to do so as a way of holding on to the prestige perception.
  6. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Active Member

  7. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I think the ACICS example makes that argument meaningless.
  8. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    If we applied ACICS' situation as common to all other national accreditors and assumed that the USDE is doing the same based on this ordeal, but as it stands the USDE still hasn't put one form over another and is looking to end the perception of distinction from their end as far as they can. I just think in the same way that each school should be judged individually on its own merits or lack thereof, the same approach should be applied to each accreditor.
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Okay, but now you're arguing with yourself. First you lean on the fact that the USDoE doesn't make distinctions, then you say that doesn't matter--that differences are individual and must be judged that way. Which is it? Either they're all equal because USDoE doesn't distinguish between them or they're not.

    All I said was that the ACICS example puts to rest the notion that the USDoE imprimatur is less-than-helpful.

    Remember, the USDoE maintains a list of accreditors for Title IV funding. That means it's in the consumer protection business--trying to ensure a baseline of quality is maintained. That's why it doesn't make distinctions--if the minimum wasn't good enough they wouldn't call it the minimum. The question is whether or not ACICS is the minimum. If so, that brings down all accrediting agencies.

    CHEA, on the other hand, makes a lot of distinctions because it's in the business of quality, not mere consumer protection. It, along with its constituent accreditors and the schools they accredit, arose organically, responding to this need while the government concerned itself with minimal standards.

    For about 4 decades now, institutional national accreditors like DEAC and ACICS have been a safe harbor for schools unable to obtain regional accreditation. Does that mean those schools are unworthy of being regionally accredited? Or does it mean the RAs are acting like a cartel and keeping them out? (Hint: there's no evidence of the latter and much evidence to belie that notion.)
  10. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    I am? I didn't know I was arguing at all, lol.

    It is a matter of fact that the Department does not put one higher than the other.

    It is a matter of fact that the Department is working to eliminate the "national" and "regional" tags from their own lexicon and refer to all approved accreditors as "nationally recognized".

    I feel that every institution should be judged individually, yes. And, I feel the current public perception of distinction is based purely on perception, and not on any substantial proof that one is greater or less than the other. The Department may also have this feeling given their moving to eliminate the "national" and "regional" tags. Or maybe they don't, but either way their stamp on this will have an impact on changing the perception.

    I don't think I was unclear on any of that.

    If an actual legitimate study comes out and proves which one really is better, I'm open to it and maybe the Department would be too. But so far all we've gotten are articles that amount to nothing more than emotionally-charged witch hunting, especially when the for-profit side of this is discussed. Btw, I'm not saying you were arguing against that, I'm just stating my position.
  11. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Gosh, we've had two.

    Bordieu's Capital theory suggests we examine the trade between students and schools. Each brings capital to the exchange. Students bring their money and their academic efforts. Schools provide and education and a credential--in this case, a degree. It is the performance of the latter (and it's constituent credits) that will be examined here.

    John Bear surveyed college registrars regarding this question and I analyzed the data. There was a statistically significant difference in the acceptability of credits and degrees from nationally accredited schools compared to those from regionally accredited schools. In other words, they performed poorly. This study was in 2000.

    I did an experiment with HR professionals. Without getting into the whole matter, I also found a statistically significant difference in the acceptability of degrees from nationally accredited schools and those from regionally accredited schools. This gap widened after the introduction of brief descriptions of each--pointing to the dangers of a little knowledge. This study was done in 2002.

    Now, 2000 and 2002 were quite some time ago. As far as I know, these studies have not been replicated, nor has the subject been researched since. But one has to ask if conditions have changed that might--might--change the results today? I suspect this gap has narrowed, but it most certainly has not gone away.

    Does this mean no one should attend a nationally accredited school to earn a degree? Of course not. But remembering Bordieu, make sure you get your money's worth.
  12. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Active Member

    While entirely anecdotal, my previous employer was a major Fortune 100 company that would NOT accept nationally accredited degrees.
  13. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Without wanting to seem like a jerk, I'd like to see the evidence for these "facts."
  14. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    How did they communicate that internally? Was there any communication of this to the outside public?
  15. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    Certainly, there is a lower level of acceptability for NA credits compared to RA credits. No dispute there. What I'm looking for is a real quality comparison between RA and NA accreditors in terms of how they operate with oversight, enforcement of policies and so on. I know there is a perception that all NA accreditors are lesser quality than all RA accreditors and when someone does actually give a reason it's usually tied to the idea that NA accreditors are less scrutinizing, provide less oversight, etc. and maybe it's all totally true, but the idea usually isn't presented by people who have done any sort of studies in this field like you or John have.
  16. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Good for them! As any informed individual knows, people with NA degrees are simply inferior to those who have RA degrees. They are in denial about the fact that any reputable corporation will laugh at them, and will always have to justify their poor decisions to earn an NA degree. I have always laughed at them myself, still laugh at them, and always will. Because they will always be inferior. Even those who attempt to clean up their reputation by later earning one or more RA degrees will still have their records besmirched by the stench of their NA degrees.

    Of course, perhaps I am joking about this entire thing. Or perhaps not. But then, all of my degrees are RA, so I've never had to deal with the stench of an NA degree. Therefore, I can afford to joke about this whole thingey. That is, if I am joking. Which I may be. Or I may not.

    Um, have a nice day. :rolleyes:
  17. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    LOL! I can't remember who it was who said "if you get an NA degree you have to register as a sex offender". I've clearly been evading my arrest quite well, lol.
  18. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    There could be people, maybe lots of them, working in the Department that have a strong stance against national accreditors and they put RA over NA, but the Department doesn't have that as an official position.

    For the other thing:

  19. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    What will you do with that information? What possible use could it be? Outcomes, not inputs, are what matter to consumers (students and employers).
  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I hear a chain being pulled, but more transparently than usual.

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