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Report 89-13: The State's Reliance on Non-Governmental Accreditation: A Report to the Legislature in Response to Assembly Concurrent Resolution 78 (Resolution Chapter 22, 1988)

Published by The California Postsecondary Education Commission

March 1989

Reprinted in Report 89-21. View Full Publication
Since 1958, California has relied on non-governmental accrediting agencies to maintain standards of quality and integrity in its accredited private colleges, universities, and vocational schools. In doing so, the State has exempted these institutions from review by its own licensing agency -- the Private Postsecondary Education Division of the State Department of Education.

Through Assembly Concurrent Resolution 78 (Hughes 1988), the Legislature directed the California Postsecondary Education Commission to review this policy and to consider whether any or all of the responsibilities currently delegated to accrediting agencies should be assumed by the State. In carrying out this request, the Commission reviewed the operation, procedures, and standards of nine nationally recognized accrediting commissions that accredit approximately 95 percent of all accredited postsecondary institutions in the State.

This report contains the findings of that review. Part One on pages 1-4 contains a summary of findings and recommended policy guidelines regarding California's reliance on accreditation. Part Two on pages 5-8 then explains the origins and methods of the study. Part Three on pages 9-24 focuses on the nature and limits of accreditation at large. Part Four on pages 25-30 discusses the three basic purposes for which the State relies on accrediting agencies. Part Five on pages 31-40 gives specific examples of the State's over reliance on these agencies along with a set of seven premises for establishing a coherent policy for State oversight of private postsecondary institutions.

As the first report in a series of three Commission reports on California's oversight of private postsecondary institutions, this report does not contain detailed recommendations for changes in State oversight or its reliance on accrediting agencies. Instead, it seeks to provide the basis for such recommendations in the third of the series, Recommendations for Revising the Private Postsecondary Education Act of 1977 (April 1989).

The Commission adopted this report at its meeting on March 21, 1989, on recommendation of its Policy Evaluation Committee.

Related Topics: Performance of Higher Education

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