oversight

School Accreditation: Activities of Seven Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-09-12.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

Septc




GAO,
             United States
GAO          General Accounting  Office
             Washington, D.C. 20548

             Human Resources Division

             B-241086

             September 12,1990

             The Honorable Sam Nunn
             Chairman, Permanent Subcommittee
               on Investigations
             Committee on Governmental Affairs
             United States Senate

             This report responds to your request for information on the activities of
             agencies that accredit for-profit or proprietary schools that may partici-
             pate in the Stafford Student Loan Program.’ Specifically, we agreed to
             provide statistical data on the accreditation actions taken during fiscal
             years 1985 to 1989 by seven accrediting agencies. The agencies are:

             Accrediting Hureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES),
             Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET),
             Association of Independent Colleges and Schools (AICS),
             National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences
             (NACCAS),
             National Association of Trade and Technical Schools (NATTS),
             National Home Study Council (KHSC), and
             Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Occupa-
             tional Education Institutions (SACS/COEI).

             These agencies reported that they currently accredit over 5,500
             proprietary schools in the U.S. and abroad.”

             On September 6, 1990, we briefed your offices on the preliminary results
             of our analysis. This report summarizes the information we provided.
             The results of our analysis are provided in appendix I.


             Accrediting agencies are an integral part of a three-step approval pro-
Background   cess that postsecondary institutions must undergo before their students
             can receive federal grants and loans. The Higher Education Act requires
             that each postsecondary institution with students participating in the
             Stafford Loan Program be



             ‘This program includes Stafford loans, Supplemental Loans for Students, and Parent Loans fnr
             Undergraduate Students.
             ‘Includes vocational schools and branch campuses. A branch is a separate instructional facility that is
             administered from the main campus and that offers complete educational programs. Branch school
             programs are sometimes unrelated to those offered by the main campus.



             Page 1                                      GAO/HRD-30.179BR School Accreditation        by Agencies
                    B-241666




                . licensed to provide postsecondary education by the state in which it is
                  located,
                l accredited by an agency recognized by the Secretary of Education, and
                l certified by the Department of Education as financially sound and
                  capable of providing postsecondary programs.

                    Accreditation is a system for recognizing educational institutions and
                    professional programs that meet a specific level of performance, integ-
                    rity, and quality. This process is conducted primarily through nongov-
                    ernmental, voluntary associations called accrediting agencies. These
                    agencies establish criteria for accreditation, evaluate institutions and
                    professional programs desiring accredited status, and approve those
                    that meet the agencies’ criteria.


                    As agreed with your office, we reviewed information subpoenaed by the
Scope and           Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations from the seven
Methodology         accrediting agencies. For each agency, we determined as of May 1990
                    the number of proprietary schools currently accredited and of those, the
                    number also accredited by one or more agencies. Also as of May 1990,
                    we determined the number of schools that the agencies told us had vol-
                    untarily withdrawn their applications for accreditation but were accred-
                    ited by another agency.

                    In addition, we determined for the 5-year period ending in 1989, the
                    number of schools (1) newly accredited, reaccredited, or terminated; (2)
                    whose first requests for accreditation were accepted, deferred, or
                    denied; (3) that did not reapply for accreditation once their accredita-
                    tion period expired; and (4) accredited without an on-site visit by the
                    agency.3

                    We summarized the results of our review by accrediting agency and
                    asked each agency to verify the information.


                    Based on initial applications for accreditation, the seven agencies
What We Found       accredited 1,880 schools and denied 281 accreditation during the 5-year
                    period. Six of the seven agencies deferred 437 schools for consideration;
                    these schools subsequently may have been accredited or rejected after
                    being reviewed again by the agencies. (See table 1.)

                    3ACXET, NACCAS, NATE, and SACS/COEI provided some of this information for calendar years as
                    opposed to fiscal years.



                    Page 2                                 GAO,fEU&Lb~179BR School Accreditation     by Agencies
          .
                                    B-241086




                                                                                                                                        -
Table 1: Proprietary Schools That
Applied lfor Accreditation                                                                    Schools initially
(1985-89)                           Agency                          Accredited                       Deferred                         -       Denied
                                                                 .~~~-.---~~-                                                   -----__
                                    ABHES                                       100                                        12                       1
                                                         -~~      .--      ~.                         -.
                                    ACCETr                                      252                        .~-             63                     28
                                                -______~“.-~-
                                    Ales-                                       149 ~-       ~..”                           .                    120
                                    NACCAS                                      619                                    112              ~-___-    46
                                    -.~
                                    NATTS
                                                .____     ~~~           ~~-_-~
                                                                                641                        ~.          157 ___~-.. ~---           70
                                    NHSC                                       25
                                                                        _-_-___~-
                                                                                                                           11
                                                                                                                                ----              10
                                    SACS/COEI
                                                                ..~            94                                          82                      6
                                    Total                                  1,880                    --437                              .-        281


                                    As shown in table 2, NACCASand NATTS reaccredited the largest number
                                    of schools. The seven agencies terminated the accreditation of 315 pro-
                                    prietary schools during this 5-year period. Schools accredited by NACGAS
                                    accounted for over 30 percent of this total. Over 200 schools accredited
                                    by NACCASand NATTS did not reapply for accreditation once it expired.

Table 2: Selected Agency Actions
(1985-8911                                                                                        Number of schools
                                    Agency                                  Reaccredited                               -               Terminated
                                                                                                                                       -
                                    AWES      ____..--     --                          82                                                           18
                                    ACCET
                                    __~~-“..~              - ~-~~~~.                       141                   ~.....                 ..-       46
                                    AICS
                                    NACCAS ..---       . “~~~___    ~-                     413                                  -~                55
                                                                                         -i,O69            -     -..                              99
                                    NATTS                                                  482 -_._                                               69
                                    -“.~~                                                                                              ~__.__
                                    NHSC                                                    26                                                     9
                                    SACS/COEI                                              117                                                    19
                                                                                                                           -______ ~~-._-
                                    Total                                                2,330                                                   315


                                    ACCET stated that before May 1990 its accreditation of main campuses-
                                    which are all subject to on-site agency visits-also covered branch cam-
                                    puses. Therefore, during the 5-year period, 65 branch campuses were
                                    accredited without site visits. As of May 1990, ACCET began conducting
                                    site visits to branch campuses as a condition of accreditation. ABHES,
                                    NHSC, and SACS/COEIreported that none of their schools were accredited
                                    without a site visit. AICS, NACCAS,and NATTS cited their policies requiring
                                    on-site visits to schools but did not provide information on the number
                                    of schools accredited without a visit. Appendix I contains additional sta-
                                    tistics on each agency, including the number of schools that voluntarily
                                    withdrew their applications for accreditation and were accredited by




                                    Page3                                   GAO/HE&D-90-179BRSchool Accreditation by Agencies
5241996




another agency, and the number of schools that did not reapply for
accreditation once it expired.


We discussed the contents of the report with representatives of the
accrediting agencies and incorporated their comments where
appropriate.

We are sending copies of this briefing report to the Secretary of Educa-
tion, appropriate congressional committees, and other interested parties.
Please call me on (202) 275-1793 if you or your staff have any questions
about this report. Other major contributors to this report are iisted in
appendix II.

Sincerely yours,




Franklin Frazier
Director, Education and
  Employment Issues




Page 4                         GAO/Hl?D9@179BR S&o01 Accdhtiaa   by &II&S
Page 6   GAO/I3FtD-9O-179BR School Acmeditation   by Agenden
contents


Letter                                                                                              1

Appendix I                                                                                          8
School Accreditation:
Information on Seven
Agencies That
Accredit Proprietary
Schools
Appendix II
Major Contributors to
This Briefing Report
Related GAO Products                                                                              36

Tables                  Table 1: Proprietary Schools That Applied for                               3
                            Accreditation (1985-89)
                        Table 2: Selected Agency Actions (198589)                                   3

Figures                 Figure   I. 1: School Accreditation                                        8
                        Figure   I. 2: Background                                                  9
                        Figure   1.3: Objectives                                                  10
                        Figure   1.4: Scope                                                       11
                        Figure   1.5: Methodology                                                 12
                        Figure   1.6: What Did We Find?                                           13
                        Figure   I. 7: Summary Observations on ABHES                              14
                        Figure   LB: Summary Observations on ACCET                                17
                        Figure   1.9: Summary Observations on AICS                                20
                        Figure   I. 10: Summary Observations on NACCAS                            23
                        Figure   I. 11: Summary Observations on NATTS                             26
                        Figure   I. 12: Summary Observations on NHSC                              29
                        Figure   I. 13: Summary Observations on SACS                              32




                        Page 6                        GAO/I-IRMW179BR khool Accreditation by Agencies
Abbreviations

ABHES     Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools
ACCET     Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training
AICS      Association of Independent Colleges and Schools
NACCAS    National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and
             Sciences
NATTS     National Association of Trade and Technical Schools
NHSC      National Home Study Council
SACS/COEl Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on
             Occupational Educational Institutions


Page 7                       GAO/I9@179BR    School Accreditation   by Agencies
Appendix      I                                                                 ,

SchoolAccreditation: Information on Seven
AgenciesThat Accredit Proprietary Schools

Figure 1.1:




     GJQ School Accreditation



                  Information on Seven
                  Agencies That Accredit
                  Proprietary Schools




                          Page 8       GAO/‘I3RD9o-179BB School Accreditation   by Agencies
_II

                          Appendix I
                          School Accreditation  Iaformation    on Seven
                          Agencies That Accredit Proprietary    Schools




Figure L2:




      GAO Background


             l   Schools must be accredited
                 before their students can
                 receive federal student aid
             l   High loan defaults are occuring
                 at proprietary schools
             l   Seven major organizations
                 accredit proprietary schools




                          Page 9                                    GAO,fHULWU7SBR   &ho01   Acmdltatlon by Agendea
                       Appendix I
                       School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                       Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure 1.3:




    GAf) Objectives

              The Senate Permanent
              Subcommittee on
              Investigations asked GAO to
              compile statistics from
              documents subpoenaed from
              the seven accrediting agencies




                       Page IO                                GAO/IIRIHO-I79BR   School Accreditation by Agencies
                                Appendix I
                                School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                                Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure 1.4:




    GM                Scope

              l   Determined for each
                  agency such items as
                  the number of schools
                  l currently  accredited
                  anewly accredited
                  l reaccredited
                  *initially denied accreditation
                  *terminated




                                Page 11                                GAO/HRD9@179BR School Accreditation by Agencies
                            Appendix I
                            scho01 Accreditation: Infommtion on Seven
                            Agencies That Accredit Proprietary SchooLe




Figure 1.5:




    GAO Methodology


              l   Reviewed subpoenaed data
                  submitted by the agencies
              l   Compiled statistics for
                  subsequent. verification by
                  the seven agencies




                           Page 12                               GAO/I3RIM&l79BB   School Accreditation   by Agencies
                           Appendix 1
                           School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                           Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Piquta 1.6:




    G             What Did We Find?


              *The 7 agencies currently
               accredit 5,585 proprietary
               schools and their branches
              l   During the past 5 years, the
                  seven agencies terminated
                  accreditation for 315
                  proprietary schools and                                                                            x
                  reaccredited 2,330 schools




                           Page 13                                GAO/HRIDso-179BR School Accreditation by Agendea
                              Appendix I
                              School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                              Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure 1.7:




    GAO Summary Observations
        on ABHES

                  Currently accredits
                  l   176 proprietary schools
                      and branches
                  l 91 schools with dual
                    accreditation
              l   4 schools voluntarily
                  withdrew their applications
                  for accreditation and were
                  accredited by another agency




                              Page 14                               GAO/HR.D-9@179BR School Accreditation   by Agencies
                                 Appendix I
                                 School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                                 Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure 1.7 Continued:




    GMI Summary Observations on
        ABHES (continued)

                    In the past 5 years ABHES
                    vewly accredited 102 schools
                    *reaccredited 82 schools
                    #terminated its accreditation
                     for 18 schools
                                                                                                                             w
                   l initially  accredited 100
                        schools, deferred 12, and
                        denied 1 accreditation
L




                                 Page 16                               GAO/HRDM-179BR   School Accreditation   by Agencies
                                Appendix I
                                School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                                Agendes That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure 1.7Continued:




    GM                 Summary Observations
                       on ABHES (continued)

                       In the past 5 years
                       40 schools did not reapply
                        for accreditation once it
                        expired
                       ano schools were accredited
                        without a school site visit
                        by the agency




                                Page 18                                GAO,‘~W179BR   Schoo1 Accredi tation by Agencies
                                                                                               ,
                            Appendix I
                            School Accreditation Information on Seven
                            Agendea That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Finure 1.8:




    GAQ Summary Observations
        on ACCET

                  Currently accredits
                  a935 proprietary schools
                   and branches
                  40 schools with dual
                   accreditation
              l   No data were available on
                  schools that voluntarily
                  withdrew their applications
                  for accreditation




                           Page 17                                GAO,NRlM@179BR School Accreditation   by Agenda
                                  Appendix I
                                  School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                                  Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure 1.8Continued:




      GAO Summary Observations
          on ACCET (continued)

                       In the past 5 years ACCET
                       l newly   accredited 279 schools
                       veaccredited 141 schools
                       @terminated its accreditation
                       for 46 schools
                       *initially accredited 252
                        schools, deferred 63, and
                        denied 28 accreditation




                                  Page 19                                GAO/~90-179BR   School Accreditation   by Agencies
                                Appendix I
                                S~bool Accreditation: Information on Seven
                                Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure 1.8Continued:




    G&I Summary Observations
        on ACCET (continued)
                       In the past 5 years
                   09 schools did not reapply for
                    accreditation once it expired
                   l 65 branch campuses were
                     accredited without a
                     school site visit by the
                     agency




                               Page 19                               GAO/HBD-90-179BR School Accreditation   by Agencies
                           Appendix 1
                           School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                           Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure 1.9:




     GMI Summary Observations
         on AICS

                  Currently accredits
                  0930 proprietary schools
                   and branches
                  *no data were available on
                   the number of schools with
                   dual accreditation
              l   25 schools voluntarily
                  withdrew their applications
                  for accreditation




                           Page 20                                GAO/~90-l   79BR School Accreditation   by Agendea
                                 Appendix 1
                                 School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                                 Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure
  -    I.9 Continued:




    MO                  Summary Observations
                        on AICS (continued)

                        In the past 5 years AICS
                        *newly accredited 57 schools
                        @reaccredited 413 schools
                    @terminated its accreditation
                    for 55 schools
                    *initially accredited 149
                     schools and denied 120
                     accreditation                                                                      ,




                                 Page 21                               GAO/HRD90-179BR School Ameditation   by Agencies
                                 Appendix I
                                 School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                                 Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure 1.9Continued:




    GAO Summary Observations
        on AICS (continued)

                       In the past 5 years
                       l 38 schools did not reapply for
                       accreditation once it expired
                       l AICS required a school site
                       visit before accreditation




                                 Page 22                                GAO/HRIMO-179BR school Accreditation   by Agencies
                                 Appendix I
                                 School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                                 Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Fiaure 1.10:
                                                                                                                           1




    GAO Summary Observations
        on NACCAS
    --         ~       ~~   ~~


                       Currently accredits
                       01,764 proprietary schools
                        and branches
                       014 schools with dual
                        accreditation
                   l   No schools voluntarily
                       withdrew their applications
                       for accreditation and were
                       accredited by another agency




                                 Page   23                              GAO/HRD90-179BR School Accreditation by Agencies
                                Appendix I
                                School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                                Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure 1.10Continued:




     G&III Summary Observations
           on NACCAS (continued)

                    In the past 5 years NACCAS
                    *newly accredited 619 schools
                    areaccredited 1,069 schools
                    l terminated its accreditation
                        for 99 schools
                    *initially accredited 619
                     schools, deferred 112, and
                     denied 46 accreditation




                                Page 24                               GAO/HRD+W179BR School Accreditation   by Agencies
                                 Appendix   I
                                 School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                                 Agencies That Accmdit Proprietary Schools




Figure 1.10Continued:




    G&I Summary Observations
        on NACCAS (continued

                   In the past 5 years
                   418 schools did not reapply
                    for accreditation once it
                    expired
                   l NACCAS required a school
                        site visit before accreditation




                                 Page 26                               GAO/EXRD~179BB   School &meditation   by Agendes
                            Appendix I
                            School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                            Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure 1.11:
 -



     GM) Summary Observations
         on NATTS

                   Currently accredits
                   4,297 proprietary schools
                    and branches
                   4 50 schools with dual
                    accreditation
               l   27 schools voluntarily
                   withdrew their applications
                   for accreditation and were
                   accredited by another agency




                            Page 26                                GAO/~96-179BR   School Accreditation   by Agencies
                                   Appendix I
                                   School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                                   Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure I.‘11 Continued:


      --         ~

      GM                  Summary Observations
                          on NATTS (continued)

                          In the past 5 years NATE
                          anewly accredited 641 schools
                          *reaccredited 482 schools
                          l terminated its accreditation
                          for 69 schools
                          *initially accredited 641
                           schools, deferred 157, and
                           denied 70 accreditation




                                   Page 27                               GAO/HRDW179BR   School Accreditation   by Agendes
                            Appendix I
                            School Accreditation:     Information on Seven
                            Agendes   That Accredit     Proprietary t3choIa




Figure 1.11Continued:




   m               Summary Observations
                   on NATTS (continued)
                   In the past 5 years
                   ,119 schools did not reapply
                    for accreditation once it
                    expired
                  .NATTS provided no data
                   on site visits




                            Page 28                                    GAO/HRD-fI0479BR School Aca-editation   by Agenda
-L

                                Appendix I
                                School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                                Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure 1.12:

r-   --~           ~~~

     GQ             Summary Observations
                    on NHSC
                    Currently accredits
                    a44 proprietary schools
                         and branches
                    *no schools with dual
                     accreditation
               l    No schools voluntarily
                    withdrew their applications
                    for accreditation and were
                    accredited by another agency




                                Page 29                                GAO/HRD-90-179BR School Accreditation   by Agencies
                                    Appendix I
                                    School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                                    Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure 1.12 Continued:




     GM) Summary Observations
         on NHSC (continued)

                         In the past 5 years NHSC
                         l newly   accredited 21 schools
                         veaccredited 26 schools

                         @terminated its accreditation
                         for 9 schools
                         *initially accredited 25 schools,
                          deferred i 1, and denied
                           IO accreditation




                                    Page 30                                GAO/HRD9@179BR School Accreditation by Agencies
                             Appendix I
                             School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                             Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure
  -    1.12Continued:


     -

     GAQ Summary Observations
         on NHSC (continued)

                    In the past 5 years
                    e8 schools did not reapply for
                     accreditation once it expired
                    eNHSC visted all schools
                     before accrediting them




                             Page 31                               GAO/HRIHKJ-179BR School Accreditation   by Agencies
                            Appendix I
                            School Accreditation: Infomtion  on Seven
                            Agendes That Accredit Proprietary Schools




Figure 1.13:
 -




     G&I) Summary Observations
          on SACS

                   Currently accredits
                   0439 proprietary schools
                    and branches
                   a42 schools with dual
                    accreditation
               l   No data were available on the
                   number of schools that
                   withdrew their applications for
                   accreditation




                            Page 32                              GAO/HRD-90-179BR School Accreditation by Agendas
                                  Appendix I
                                  School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                                  Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Schoola




Figure 1.13 Continued:




    w               Summary Observations
                    on SACS (continued)

                    In the past 5 years SACS
                    anewly accredited 153 schools
                    areaccredited 117 schools
                    l terminated its accreditation
                         for 19 schools
                    *initially accredited 94
                     schools, deferred 82, and
                     denied 6 accreditation




                                 Page 33                                GAO/IIR.D~179BE   School Accreditation by Agendes
                             Appendix I
                             School Accreditation: Information on Seven
                             Agencies That Accredit Proprietary Sehoola




Figure 1.13Continued:




    GM) Summary Observations
        on SACS (continued)

                    In the past 5 years
                    l 33 schools did not reapply for
                      accreditation once it expired
                    @SACSvisited all schools
                    before accrediting them




                             Page 34                               GAO/IIRtM@179BR School Accreditation   by Agencies
Appendix 11

Major Contributors to This Briefing Repwt


                   Joseph J. Eglin, Assistant Director, (202) 401-8623
Human Resources    Christopher C. Crissman, Assignment Manager
Division,          Karen A, Whiten, Evaluator-in-Charge
Washington, DC.    Veronica Scott, Evaluator
                   Jennifer Grover, Evaluator


                   John Crawford, Evaluator
Atlanta Regional
Office




                   Page 36                        GAO/HRMlO-17SBR School Accreditation   by Agencies
                                                                                              .
                                                                                   ,
                                                                                          L




 RelatedGAO Products


              Supplemental Student Loans: Legislative Changes Have Sharply
              Reduced Loan Volume (GAO/HRD-90-149FS,Aug. 3, 1990)

              Financial Problems in the Stafford Student Loan Program
              (GAO/T-HRD-90-52, July 27, 1999)

              GAO Views on the Stafford Student Loan Program (GAO/T-HRD-90-13, Feb.
              20, 1990)

              Supplemental Student Loans: Who Borrows and Who Defaults (GAO/
              HRD-90-33FS,Oct. 17, 1989)

              Guaranteed Student Loans: Analysis of Student Default Rates at 7,800
              Postsecondary Schools (GAO/IIRD-~S-~~BR, duly 5, 1989)

              Defaulted Student Loans: Preliminary Analysis of Student Loan Bor-
              rowers and Defaulters (GAOIHRD-88-1I ZBH. June 14. 1988)

              GAO'S Views on the Default Task Force’s Recommendations for Reducing
              Default Costs in the Guaranteed Student Loan Program (GAO/T-~~~-88-7,
              Feb. 2, 1988)

              Guaranteed Student Loans: Potential Default and Cost Reduction
              Options (GA~~IRDxR-~~I~R, Jan. 7, 1988)

              Guaranteed Student Loans: Legislative and Regulatory Changes Needed
              to Reduce Default____-
                                 Costs (GAO/HRD-m-i%, Sept. 30, 1987)




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