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An Analysis of Higher Education Accreditation - page 50 / 60

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The Inmates Running the Asylum?

Thus, when accountability efforts reign, the improvement role suffers. But when the pendulum swings back towards improvement, the accountability role suffers. North Central has created new processes whose “most distinctive feature is that it would clearly separate ‘compliance’ from ‘improvement.’”206 Western has adopted a similar process, where “as long as you’re making improvement, you won’t get in trouble.”207 The problem is that “in their efforts to become more flexible, the regionals are abandoning their regulatory function.”208

Some believe that it is possible to balance these two or that they are already in balance. But there is lit- tle support for that claim. Never in the history of accreditation has accountability been adequately pro- vided, but we have nonetheless nearly wrecked their improvement mission in our futile efforts to squeeze accountability out of an improvement sponge.

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