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Biden Administration Wants Accreditors to Set Benchmarks For Student Outcomes

Biden Administration Wants Accreditors to Set Benchmarks For Student Outcomes

Inside Higher Ed

Katherine Knott
March 15, 2024
After years of debate and calls for the watchdogs of higher education to crack down on institutions with poor student outcomes, the nation’s accrediting agencies could be required to set benchmarks for student achievement.
Accreditors are charged with monitoring the quality of colleges and universities and serve as gatekeepers to institutions’ access to federal financial aid. Lawmakersadvocates and analysts across the political spectrum have argued for years that accreditors are failing in their quality-assurance role, pointing to low graduation rates at accredited institutions, among other data points.
The Biden administration has proposed requiring accreditors to set minimum expectations of performance on a number of standards such as graduation and licensure pass rates. The specific metrics would be up to each accreditor. This change, if enacted, would represent a significant shift for the Education Department, which has sought to strengthen the oversight of colleges and universities.
What exactly this proposal means for institutions is unclear, though critics of accreditors hope it will push the agencies and institutions to focus more intently on student achievement. If a college or university fell below any one benchmark or performance standard, it likely wouldn’t lose access to federal financial aid.
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