What’s next for community college accreditation?

The debate over accreditation’s role in higher education continues.

accreditation-debate[Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of our coverage of accreditation reformation. Read Part 1 here.]

Accreditation has been no stranger to debate this year, as alternative credentialing and other learning pathways become more widespread and call into question how higher education programs are accredited and evaluated.

Higher education stakeholders have dissected the topic at length, with some saying the accreditation agencies need a process that is better-outlined in order to be most effective, while others say an entirely new model is needed.

Some say the emergence of for-profit schools has revealed cracks in the accreditation process. In addition, they say, accreditation’s structure itself, as a private entity, leads to problems and oversight.

Others say the process is not broken, but that there do exist areas that could be improved with federal cooperation and transparency.

And recently, the U.S. Department of Education issued legislative proposals and executive actions designed to help guide Congressional action on accreditation reform.

Now, in California, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors voted to oust the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, saying that the commission doesn’t serve the needs of California community colleges. State education leaders must have a plan to replace the commission by March 2016.

The action was prompted by a report from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office that advocated for a replacement of the accreditation commission.

But was the action by the Board of Governors justified, or did the accrediting commission deserve a bit more leniency and time to improve its practices?

Read an argument in favor of the action, and an argument against.

Where do you stand? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

Laura Ascione