The Senate education committee sent a pointed letter on Thursday to the U.S. education secretary, Margaret Spellings, asking her to “refrain from proposing new regulations on accreditation until after the Higher Education Act is reauthorized.”
The department recently completed a series of negotiated rule-making sessions on accreditation and is considering regulations that would introduce new measures of “student-learning outcomes” into the accreditation process and prohibit colleges from denying the transfer of credits “solely” on the basis of the sending college’s type of accreditation.
In its letter, the committee said that it planned to make changes in the section of the Higher Education Act that deals with accreditation, including “clarifying the Department of Education’s responsibilities with respect to recognizing accreditation agencies and organizations, and by specifying the criteria that those agencies should examine when reviewing institutions of higher education.”
The letter follows a floor speech last month by Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, one of the committee’s Republican members, in which he warned Ms. Spellings that he would seek to block her department from using its regulatory authority to transform the accreditation process. —Jeffrey Selingo