U.S.Department of Education Staff Report
Senior Department Official on Recognition Compliance Issues
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is a regional accreditor that currently accredits 528 institutions of higher education located in five states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
The agency’s recognition enables its institutions to establish eligibility to receive Federal student assistance funding under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (Title IV). The agency serves as the Title IV gatekeeper for all but a handful of the institutions it accredits. Consequently, the agency must meet the Secretary’s separate and independent requirements.
MSCHE appeared on the first list of recognized accrediting agencies in 1952 and has received periodic renewal of recognition since that time. The agency was last reviewed for continued recognition at the December 2012 meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI). After that review, the Department extended the agency’s previous grant of recognition and required a compliance report on the issues cited in the staff analysis.
As part of its evaluation of the agency’s current compliance report, Department staff reviewed the agency’s narrative and supporting documentation. There was one 3rd Party Comment received in connection with the agency’s compliance report.
The agency meets the requirements of the Secretary's Criteria for Recognition.
Staff Analysis of 3rd Party Written Comments
The Department received one written third-party comment against the agency. The commenter's concern is that the agency has a lack of key data indicators for student achievement. The commenter states that the agency does not have a consistent way to measure outcomes across institutions which makes it difficult to establish baselines for comparative purposes.
While the Department encourages agencies to define appropriate benchmarks and measures for student achievement, it does not have the regulatory authority to place any requirements on agencies in this regard. The Department thanks the commenters for taking the time to share their concerns with the staff, but has no way of incorporating them into the current analysis.