NACIQI Recommendation to SDO
March 5, 2021
ACICS Denounces NACIQI Recommendation to Terminate Recognition, Especially in Light of New OIG Report Corroborating ACICS Claims; Will Urge Senior Department Official to Recognize ACICS Is in Substantial Compliance with Recognition Criteria
The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) voted today to recommend the Department of Education terminate recognition of ACICS. Michelle Edwards, ACICS President, issued the following statement in response to today’s non-binding recommendation to the Senior Department Official (SDO):
I fundamentally believe that ACICS is in substantial compliance with any objective, consistent, and reasonable interpretation of the recognition criteria. Over the past five years, ACICS has made important strides to strengthen our organization, our accountability, our procedures, and accreditation criteria. ACICS’s recognition should be driven by the improvements we have made and our effectiveness as an accreditor today, not by policy priorities and outside pressure from political activists. Unfortunately, we were not given that opportunity by NACIQI.
It has been the longstanding practice of the Department of Education to grant recognition to accrediting agencies that are in substantial compliance with the recognition requirements, and continuous improvement has always been the guiding principle. But with today’s action, a different standard is being applied to ACICS. Indeed, several members of the NACIQI panel noted the lack of consistent application of the accreditation standards. And yet, they went ahead and voted to hold ACICS to a different standard. This is contrary to regulations and is being done with no notice or any explanation of the change in formal policy.
Let me be clear: this should be seen as a fundamental shift in accreditation policy and a wake-up call to all accreditors. If it is applied to all accreditors equally, and not just to ACICS, it would mean that all accreditors must now be in absolute compliance at all times. Any incident of noncompliance, no matter how immaterial, would seemingly be cause for denial of continued recognition.