February 5, 2024
The Postsecondary Commission aims to offer a new model of evaluating institutions. It has powerful supporters, vocal critics and a long road ahead to federal recognition.
Accrediting agencies tasked with evaluating U.S. colleges and universities typically focus on metrics related to academics, operations and fiscal health. The nascent Postsecondary Commission aims to offer a different model for determining institutional quality: one centered largely on student outcomes, such as earnings and economic mobility.
But first, it actually has to become a recognized accrediting body. And while the organization has taken the initial steps to do so, it is only a year into the lengthy and arduous process, which can take at least four years.
The nonprofit, philanthropy-backed organization has a unique, outcomes-focused model and a board stocked with well-known names, but it also faces a high degree of skepticism. That’s not surprising in the world of higher education, where accreditors are rarely viewed favorably. If approved, the Postsecondary Commission will launch in an environment where institutions have newfound freedom to choose accreditors beyond their historic regions, following 2020 changes by the Trump administration that allow such bodies to operate nationally.