Jun 2017

What Is ‘Quality’? Task Force Seeks Comment on Higher-Ed Outcomes Reporting Standards

By Tony Wan

June 14, 2017

What does a “quality” education mean? What should it enable learners to do? From getting a job to getting into graduate school, programs make a variety of claims about how they help students. But as cases like Corinthian Colleges show, there can be a wide disconnect between marketing language and actual outcomes, making it hard for students to do apples-to-apples comparison between different options.

In an effort to close the gap between claims and facts, Entangled Solutions has issued a near-final draft of a new set of “quality assurance” standards for how programs report and communicate student outcomes. The San Francisco-based education consulting firm hopes these guidelines will be adopted by schools from traditional universities to bootcamps.

The draft is available here (PDF), and anyone can comment through July 31. The Task Force will review and adjust the standards based on the feedback, and aims to publish a final version by the end of the year. This committee will then create a separate nonprofit that will be the “safekeeper and guardian of these standards,” according to Michael Horn, a Principal Consultant at Entangled Solutions.

Horn points to the accounting industry as a model for how this nonprofit can economically support itself. One option is to charge accounting firms a membership fee to apply the standards in their audit reports of schools. Another option is to provide professional development to help schools implement the standards. However the revenue stream flows, Horn says his group will not financially benefit from the nonprofit: “It won’t be entangled with Entangled.”


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