What is it?

Accrediting agencies are associations of colleges that develop evaluation criteria designed to assess quality, and then conduct peer reviews to assess whether or not those criteria have been met. The government often relies on private accrediting agencies to assure that colleges and universities meet these criteria and deserve taxpayer funding. This database includes materials made available by the colleges regarding their accreditation status: a “self-study” is an assessment by the college itself; the “visiting team report” represents the views of peers who examined the college; and the “action letter” is the accrediting agency’s decision regarding a school’s accreditation status.

Why is it important?

Because there is a wide range of goals in higher education, and some of the most important outcomes can be nebulous and unpredictable, quality assessments that rely solely on quantitative measurements and formulas are inadequate. Peer review through accreditation provides an important source of information for the colleges as well as for taxpayers and potential students. Not all colleges, however, routinely make their accreditation documents available to the public. By making the documents available on their web sites or through this database, colleges make clear that they are not afraid of public scrutiny.

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