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Accreditation on the Edge

Challenging Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Accreditation is essential to colleges and universities. Without it, they are unable to participate in federal student aid programs or confer legitimate degrees. In Accreditation on the Edge, Susan D. Phillips and Kevin Kinser bring together the expertise of different stakeholders to illustrate the complexities of the accreditation system and to map the critical issues that must be navigated going forward.

Accreditation can be seen both as an invaluable resource and as a barrier to needed reform. Presenting an array of different perspectives—from accreditors and institutions to policymakers and consumers—the book offers nuanced views on accreditation's importance to higher education and on the potential impact of proposed reforms. The contributors reveal that accreditation is currently on the edge of a policy precipice, as the needs of higher education and the interests of the many stakeholders may well outstrip its ability to perform. But, they argue, accreditation is also on the cutting edge of the transformation of higher education in the twenty-first century.

Intended for policymakers, accreditors, institutional leaders, and scholars in higher education, Accreditation on the Edge offers a comprehensive analysis of the critical issues that accreditation reform needs to address if it is to serve the future of a fast-changing higher education environment.

Contributors: Armand Alacbay, David A. Bergeron, Alana Dunagan, Judith S. Eaton, Peter T. Ewell, Madeleine F. Green, Thomas L. Harnisch, Michael B. Horn, Kevin Kinser, Edwin W. Koc, Paul J. LeBlanc, Sylvia Manning, Leah K. Matthews, Barmak Nassirian, Anne Neal, Audrey Peek, Susan D. Phillips, Mark Schneider, Jamienne S. Studley, Joseph Vibert

About the Authors

Susan D. Phillips is a professor of educational leadership and policy and of counseling psychology at the University at Albany. Previously she led the American Psychological Association Committee on Accreditation and the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. Kevin Kinser is a professor of and the head of Education Policy Studies at Pennsylvania State University, where he is also a senior scientist at the Center for the Study of Higher Education.

Endorsementss

"Tackling an important topic from a variety of perspectives and featuring a stellar lineup of contributors, this book will have a strong impact not just on higher education but on broader audiences as well. Phillips and Kinser help us slow down for a moment and consider what our responsibilities as scholars are to the world."

- James Soto Antony, Harvard University, coeditor of Challenges in Higher Education Leadership: Practical and Scholarly Solutions

"Anyone interested in accreditation, or in higher education reform more generally, should read this book. Compelling and well-informed, this book adds significantly to the public discourse at a time when further policy-relevant knowledge is sorely needed."

- Ben Wildavsky, College Board Policy Center, coeditor of Reinventing Higher Education: The Promise of Innovation

"Phillips and Kinser address forthrightly and thoughtfully an incredibly timely and urgent issue, bringing together a wide array of experts and perspectives on quality assurance in higher education. More and more individuals need the advantages that come from high-quality credentials, and this book advances an essential conversation about crafting new approaches that will better serve today's students and today's society."

- Debra Humphreys, Lumina Foundation

"With accreditation the gateway to more than $120 billion in federal aid, questions about its nature, role, and value loom large in debates over higher education reform. Yet the topic has rarely received the attention it merits—until now. Phillips and Kinser's invaluable volume offers a hard look at where accreditation has been, where it is, and where it needs to go."

- Frederick M. Hess, American Enterprise Institute, author of Letters to a Young Education Reformer

"Susan Phillips and Kevin Kinser present a landmark book on accreditation. The perspectives are all here: accreditors, critics, policy makers, those who want accreditation to do more and those who want it to do less. Is accreditation fundamentally flawed? Or is it, paraphrasing Winston Churchill, the worst quality assurance system, except for all the others? These chapters will enliven and inform the debate. Expect no easy answers."

- Barbara E. Brittingham, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

"This book is a must-read for college, university, and government policymakers and practitioners with responsibility to advance quality assurance and improvement processes for higher education in the twenty-first century. Phillips and Kinser have attracted a set of deeply thoughtful authors in this nuanced compendium of competing analyses and perspectives. This book will be used by many local, state, and national stakeholders and experts to inform and guide the national policy debate about the intersection of accreditation and compliance to assess and improve the quality of higher education in the years ahead."

- Martha J. Kanter, New York University, former Under Secretary of Education

"Whatever one thinks of the US accreditation system, it’s not hard to see that its credibility is at risk. This book tackles that truth head-on and, in the process, provides a critical and constructive overview of where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where we need to go to improve how to assess and, hopefully, improve our diverse higher education system in a way that ultimately benefits its most important constituent, students."

- Christopher C. Morphew, Johns Hopkins University School of Education, coauthor of The Challenge of Independent Colleges: Moving Research into Practice

Reviews

"In their edited collection Accreditation on the Edge: Challenging Quality Assurance in Higher Education, Phillips and Kinser provide insights into the perspectives of accreditors, institutions, policymakers, and consumers. The value of this volume arises from presenting these different perspectives as insiders who understand the complexity of accreditation and how it is perceived throughout their particular sector."

- Phillip A. Olt, Fort Hays State University - Teacher-Scholar
Johns Hopkins University Press
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