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According to Inside Higher Ed, the Department of Education's National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) recommended that the ABA be stripped of its accreditation power for a year.
Call it a sign of the times. With over 200 law education institutions accredited by the organization and extreme law school debt affecting graduates, it was only a matter of time before someone suggested that the national face of the law schools should be looked at with a hard eye.
A Dressing Down From Higher Ups
The recommendation by the Education Department was a rebuke of the ABA and its recent "lack of attention to student achievement."
The general tone of the federal recommendation was somber. NACIQI voted on three separate occasions with recommendations that the ABA lose its accreditation powers for a year owing to general failures to implement student achievement standards, failures to crack the whip as to sanctions, and also for falling short on its auditing processes. All of this is consistent with a NACIQI staff report that found minor technical deficiencies with the ABA's accrediting process.
Dodging a Bullet
Without powers to accredit, institutions and the 800,000 enrolled within them will have about 18 months to find a new accrediting body. "The truth is that some agencies need to up their game," said Ted Mitchell, the Undersecretary of Education. He added that the ABA had demonstrated "such wide and deep failure that they simply cannot be entrusted with making the determinations we, you and the public count on."
One of the main sticking points at the NACIQI meeting was recurring evidence that many institutions that had previously been accredited were involved in systematic fraud of students -- yet still maintained their accreditation. Within a little less than three months' time, we shall see what will become of this most ominous of recommendations.
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