As the new year began to unfold, it became clear that accreditation would be a hot topic, and one that would create heated debate between the government and the agencies who currently accredit both online and traditional schools ( read more about top accrediting agencies).
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has recently pushed for a tightening of accreditation rules, with a particular focus on measuring the performance of students after they graduation from accredited schools. There hasn’t been an official revision of accreditation rules since 1999, and there seems to be little doubt that a new round of changes won’t come until after there’s been a heated debate between Ms. Spellings, the Congress (which seems inclined to avoid any big changes) and the 60 or so agencies that accredit everything from major universities on down to certificate programs in a variety of career areas.
So Long, Southern Diploma Mills
Meanwhile, several states which have been considered havens for weak schools are moving to raise educational standards. Mississippi and Alabama, in particular, have long played host to a number of unaccredited schools considered to be pure “diploma mills” by most educators. Mississippi has recently given state attorneys a green light to go after schools that offer any degrees without approval from the Alabama Commission on College Accreditation. Alabama, meanwhile, has announced it will take away a loophole that currently allows some schools to operate with just a corporate license, and no educational accreditation.
For e-learners, this will be good news in the long run, as it will likely make it tougher for peddlers of fake degrees to stay in business. With other havens for fake schools still existing offshore and elsewhere, however, it remains important that you check the accreditation status of any online degree program before paying anything for admission.