Weasel Wording

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by Mac Juli, Oct 12, 2020.

  1. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Accreditation, as a private system, is not broken.

    However, accreditation as a government recognized standard for all things is broken.

    The fact is, schools like TESU prove to us that credits can be accumulated from multiple sources and a degree can be awarded. That's a great thing. I wish, as I said, that every state had a similarly functioning public degree granting institution just like it.

    What we have instead for "max credit transfer" is a highly inconsistent patchwork of independent standards that range from "we don't accept transfer credits at all" to "we don't accept more than 50% of transfer credits no matter what" with only non-traditional schools really being willing to break ranks with their peers. The problem is that accreditation is, in effect, the schools governing themselves. Massive fees are only part of the equation. There is an entire industry of consulting professionals who add tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to the process expense as well and create a revolving door of school administrators and accreditation specialists. Like any self-regulation that means that some things will creep in there that have absolutely nothing to do with academic standards. The initial hostility to online learning was total crap. There was no reason for it aside from some incredibly and wildly inaccurate comparisons of it to correspondence learning. Yet, there we were.

    Look, it's been established that we could save time and money if the IRS send us pre-populated tax forms every year. For the majority of Americans whose income is summarized on a single W-2 it would be quick and easy. Who resists such a change? Tax preparers. Intuit would lose gobs of money if they couldn't sell a $30 piece of software to almost every working person in the country even those who could fill out the 1040EZ in about 10 minutes on their own. But...the consumers can choose, you may say. While true, there is also quite a bit of marketing to lead people to believe that they'll somehow screw up even the simplest tax form and end up buried in fees. All of that goes away when you trust your tax preparer.

    It's a similar thing here. Accreditation is expensive and it is cumbersome. DEAC accreditation requires not just a number of fees but you a hosting school to pay for business class airfare and hotel accommodation for the reviewers attending the site visit. Meanwhile, New York does not. Because they only accredit schools within the state there is no need for expensive flights. Because the reviewers are government employees this is just part of their job rather than being a fun little side hustle for an already (possibly) over compensated college administrator or a career educational consultant.

    One system is efficient and the other is not. One system allows for tiny schools to become accredited institutions and the other does not. Both add expenses to the bottom line for any school, however, not just in their fees but in the expenses related to the accreditation and re-accreditation process such as hiring consultants and paying per diem for reviewers. And we have public schools beholden to this. Again, it's absurd to think that the state of New York is capable of accrediting universities, awarding degrees and doing all things education but that the entire SUNY system still should have to shell out the bucks for RA.

    So let's do it this way. Rich, let's not talk about RA vs NA. Let's talk about New York Regents since the topic recently came up and I revived it here. Do you think the Regents have weaker accreditation standards than RA? If not, if we accept that they are comparable then we should really consider how it can be argued that the current system is not really broken when the same job can be done cheaper, just as efficiently and in a way that is accessible to smaller schools. Meanwhile, the bulk of "new" RA schools seem to be backed by Private Equity firms rather than groups of dedicated educators.

    It's being penny wise and pound foolish. Saying you don't want your taxes to support a "bloated" agency like the NY Department of Education and then spending three times as much to prop up the schools to undertake a private accreditation system.
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I can't imagine leaving it to the states. New York is a shining example, but so many other states have been so horrible when regulating schools as it is.
  3. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    The school authorization/accreditation was broken. In part it was broken by the legitimate need for some kind of distance learning capability. This need was not being serviced by legitimate traditional schools. So a patch work of semi-legitimate and bogus mills started servicing that need. When the traditional schools starting offering distance learning the system seemed to fix itself. I understand that is not the full story just the high-level view of things. Getting down into the weeds a little bit I don't mean to belittle the efforts of the good people posting in this forum, especially John Bear. Who pushed respectable education along, while tapping down on the not so respectable and getting governments to fix some things along the way.

    At least that is my amateurish point of view of how things evolved.
    Rich Douglas likes this.
  4. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Not amateurish, in my opinion. It jibes with how I've described things, for example. I did so when describing the development of NA (particularly DEAC) agencies accrediting degree-granting institutions. I was a fan, originally, because (as you say) traditional routes to accreditation seemed cut off to new, innovative DL schools. But these days, almost all of them have gone on to regional accreditation. Some went out of business, some others went to DEAC and stayed.

    What has bothered me is that non-RA institutional accreditors still accredit degree-granting institutions. Why? Either the RAs are still being unfair or these schools do not meet RA standards and need a less-rigorous, demanding process. (It's likely a little of both.)
  5. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I think it's likely that a bunch of the non-RA schools (and new ones that don't apply for RA) just don't fit RA parameters on financial grounds. They haven't the necessary resources. An that's understandable - particularly in schools that have been largely or completely distance-ed since day 1.
  6. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    And why must so many vocational schools in the US offer degrees? Some large US vocation-oriented schools have branches in Canada - e.g. Herzing Institute. They don't award degrees here - at least not in my province - Ontario. They're not allowed. They award diplomas - as all private vocational schools and public Community Colleges do, in this province. If you have a CC diploma, doubtless there's a degree completion pathway if you want one - but the 1-2-3 year diploma means you know your stuff and should meet any education licensing requirements for your particular skill. (You may have to take a Government-authorized test - but your program is supposed to have prepared you for that.)

    Nursing is a different matter, of course. We've experienced the same move towards degree status as other countries. Nursing school here used to be three years of college and work in a hospital setting. Now, for new nurses, it's a four-year program that terminates in a bachelor's degree - in my town, it's co-operative between college, University and hospitals. And that's terrific - I think so, anyway.

    I'm just puzzled as to why most vocational programs in the US have to be degree programs. They don't here, although you can usually proceed to a degree completion program if you're public college-trained and want to. It confuses me. Is it mere credential inflation - or something I've missed. It might cost less for students and make skills more accessible if it were done differently. But perhaps the degree-genie can't be put back in the bottle.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2020
  7. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    That's my point though.

    It's the government equivalent of the invisible hand.

    If Kansas is terrible at managing schools then they need to either accept that graduates from their colleges can't go to law school in New York or California or they need to adjust. If they don't then what ends up happening is a tiering of the states. Just like law school you'll have states and specific schools that are top tier and you'll have a fourth tier toilet. Realistically, though, the problem likely wouldn't be the majority of schools. Schools want that sort of access for students even if the state doesn't care. But I think it would force a hand to move on the religious exemption schools.
  8. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    This, to be honest, I think is really the key issue.

    It is not at all uncommon to see an auto mechanic with an associate's degree. That's fine, of course. But you don't actually need an associate's degree to be a mechanic.

    Physician Assistant was once a certificate/diploma program. Originally it was designed for military corpsmen post-Vietnam so we could put military medical training to work. Now, it's a combined BS/MS program five years at the minimum or 2-3 years post-BS if you apply to it as a standalone program. It absolutely does not serve the original purpose and now former military corpsmen are basically right back where they started; that training is useless outside of the military unless they want to go to school for many years before they are eligible to work for pay.

    And now, of course, there are plenty of people pushing for PAs to have doctorates.

    We're degree happy.

    There's no reason a part-time minister needs an MDiv especially since they can have any number of certificates in Ministry, Theology, Bible, Pastoral Counseling etc. Yet, schools market themselves for that purpose.

    Decades of telling kids that they would end up as losers if they didn't "go to college" has resulted in a generation of adults who have a panic attack at the idea of going to a school and not walking out with a degree.
  9. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I generally agree with this, even though there are millions of people out there in the "some college" category who (whether on purpose of through happenstance) have done exactly that.

    As with many cultural problems, however, I disagree that an elaborate government response, particularly at the federal level, is either a necessary or prudent response -- especially one that accommodates the problem rather than solving it.
  10. newsongs

    newsongs Active Member

    Interesting thoughts on the DEAC process of accreditation. What is the average length of the application process... until a school is accredited by them?
  11. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Casual observation would lead me to believe around 1 1/2 to 2 years+ on average. Some faster, some slower. Smart.ly Institute (now Quantic Institute of Business Technology) was among the fastest I ever saw. U. of the People seemed quick off the mark, too. I think UoTP probably knew to have many ducks correctly placed in the row by the day they applied.

    The record long time - as far as I know - is probably held by Nations U. I think it was about six years from first self-assessment to final accreditation. IIRC Nations were first required to re-do their original self-assessment (which they did, successfully) and then ran into some unanticipated hurdles which had to be cleared (by Nations) before DEAC (then DETC) could proceed to grant accreditation. Not criticizing DEAC or Nations. No reason to. Stuff happens.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2020
  12. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    And -- for new schools, I believe they must be in operation for at least two years before DEAC accreditation can be granted. (They can apply prior to this, I'm pretty sure.)
    And that should have been "Quantic School of Business & Technology." Sorry.
  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    As we know, it's market-driven. But why?

    I blame the destruction of the defined-benefit retirement system.
  14. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    People really like simple and comprehensive solutions.

    Going into a trade means picking a trade and specializing. That narrow focus worries a lot of people. Sure, plumbers make a lot of money. But what if I get into plumbing and I hate it?

    Enter the college degree. Sold, for years, as the only real alternative to backbreaking manual labor for those smart enough to take it on and who had the financial backing. It was an investment. Get through it and all of your dreams can come true.

    Think about how many movies pushed that narrative. In Caddyshack the protagonist is working as a caddy and literally saving for college in a jar because the alternative is working at a sawmill. This is not an uncommon trope, particularly in 80's movies.

    College is the panacea that guidance counselors and popular media sold for an entire generation. With it you have options. The world is your oyster. Without it and you're just a schlub struggling to get by. It's easily digestible and people believed it. College isn't an unattractive option for most people. For a high school student it's more school but it's school and a lot of freedom, leafy campus quads and the ability to live on your own. Many parents send their kids to dorm even when they live near the school because they feel "the college experience" is essential to development.

    While I had "the college experience" it was cut short and then I had the "Navy experience" which, as you might agree depending upon your own experiences, is a similar thing. The transition from high school to productive adult works similarly whether you're paying tuition, mooring a ship to a pier or fixing transmissions, in my opinion. But it packages so neatly as "the college experience" a thing that people view as indispensable for healthy development. Even people with DB retirement plans pushed their kids into college. They wanted better for them. The factory worker with a sweetheart retirement plan wanted his kids to become doctors, lawyers, executives or something that got them more than he had. So he bought the product media was selling. And those kids listened to guidance counselors who were pushing it vigorously. I think other societal trends played into it, for sure, but I think the biggest issue was that there was a massive push for college from all fronts.

    Marketing drove the demand, basically.
  15. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    My theory is that the destruction of pensions and the rise of defined-contribution plans made employees much more mobile. This, in turn, put employers' investments in talent development at risk--you train 'em up and they leave. Also, employees needed portable credentials, ones other employers would recognize and value. Because we don't have a national qualifications framework, that meant college degrees. Boom! Add the internet into the mix later on: Double Boom!

    I think a national qualifications framework would ease this situation, giving employees opportunities to earn non-collegiate credentials recognized by employers around the country. I envision a coalition between governments, tertiary institutions, and employers, all coordinated by the federal government. It would also give people a way to enter into specific, targeted occupations these entities want to emphasize.
    Neuhaus likes this.
  16. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    It's a good theory. And you know I share similar views on a national qualifications framework.

    I have often taken issue with the "bachelors degree or equivalent" piece in almost every job description. A qualification framework could actually make that a reality. Imagine if a bachelors was a Level 6 qualification but there was also a Levle 6 qualification for welding or nursing or any number of other trades. As you can likely attest, there's no reason one needs a bachelors to do almost everything in HR and the certification framework does more for that than almost any academic program.
    Rich Douglas likes this.
  17. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    And, if we did the framework correctly, those desiring a college degree could get credit for their qualification(s) and lifelong learning towards it.
    Neuhaus and Johann like this.
  18. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    It would certainly take out a lot of guess work. We could know exactly how many credits to award for being a recruiter with an SPHR or a benefits specialist with CEBS (yes, I know CEBS was formerly ACE recommended).

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