Bobbing for Bad Apples: Accreditation, Quantitative Performance Measures, and the Identification of Low-Performing Colleges
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Recent trends in higher education have increased interest in improving accountability in U.S. higher education beyond current accreditation practices. Using a unique dataset of accreditation actions, the authors examine the relationship between outcomes of the current accreditation system with those of a hypothetical quantitative evaluation system. They find that schools facing accreditation sanctions are, on average, low-performing on the quantitative outcomes. However, using prior accreditation actions to set quantitative-performance benchmarks results in a substantial portion of the higher education sector being implicated. These results suggest that quantitative-performance systems and qualitative accreditation efforts assess distinct, complementary types of institutional quality.