Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Accreditation, assessment, and the liberal arts

I have served on accreditation teams for the standard regional accreditors and for the American Academy for Liberal Education. I’ve worked in various capacities on self-study committees in preparation for accreditation visits. Suffice it to say, I know a little about the accreditation business.

I was relieved to learn that Margaret Spellings (whose tenure will--thankfully--end soon) has extended AALE’s recognition for three (as opposed to the standard five) years.

I can say with some confidence that the colleges with which I have dealt as a representative of AALE are performing marvelously with respect to the concerns Spellings cites, at least as well as those who deal with regional accreditors.

I can also say that we still have to pay attention to the difference between busy work and assessment that actually helps colleges improve what they’re doing. I’m not certain that Spellings knows the difference.

Discussions - 3 Comments

Thanks for noting this. Good news indeed. What, or who, comes after Spellings though?

You damage your own credibility by expressing "confidence" in the marvelous performance of AALE schools like American University for Humanities in Tiblisi, in Lebanon, and in Singapore. I'd also list the AALE accredited AUH school in Hawaii, but the state shut that down as a diploma mill.

Why some conservatives continue to hitch their cart to the bungling management of AALE is beyond me. I'm a conservative ISI-active educator who supports the mission of liberal arts. AALE does not represent that mission well. Anyone who has followed AALE knows that, since 2001, long before the evil Spellings was appointed by Republican Bush, AALE had trouble with ED. AALE repeatedly refused to do what they repeatedly agreed to do. I was there, but go read the NACIQI transcripts for yourself.

AALE is chosen as an accrediting agency by schools because it is the easiest, least rigorous, way to get access to federal assistance money. Soft and undemanding. Yes, there are bright spots here and there with members like Thomas Aquinas and St. John's College. But that's the exception.

AALE should have been allowed to die so that something much better - possibly organized by ISI - could have taken its place. This is what happens when conservatives are more interested in preserving power and sloppy access to government assistance than in ensuring things like quality and principle. Sad.

I've read the NACIQI transcripts and come to a different conclusion. I've also participated on both regional and AALE accreditation teams. Your statements don't conform to my experience. I wonder what actual experience you have with AALE.

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