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Higher Education Accountability

, 272 pages

5 graphs

February 2018



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Higher Education Accountability

As the price tag of higher education continues to rise, colleges and universities across the country are under increasing pressure to demonstrate their value. Graded on numerous metrics, including cost and ability to prepare students for the job market, colleges must satisfy requirements from multiple stakeholders. State and federal governments demand greater accountability. Foundations and private donors, as well as today's parents and students, approach education with a consumer sensibility. How can colleges navigate these pressures while trying to stay true to their missions and values?

In Higher Education Accountability, Robert Kelchen delivers the first comprehensive overview of how colleges in the United States came to face such overwhelming scrutiny. Beginning with the earliest efforts to regulate schools, Kelchen reveals the rationale behind accountability and outlines the historical development of how federal and state policies, accreditation practices, private-sector interests, and internal requirements have become so important to institutional success and survival.

With so many diverse and conflicting entities holding colleges responsible for their performance, the variety of accountability systems in play can have both intended and unintended consequences. Immersed as they are in current debates about how best to respond to these pressures, faculty and administrators will welcome this up-to-date and timely account, which offers not only a look at current practices but also an examination of the future of accountability in American higher education.

Robert Kelchen is an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University.

"Kelchen’s book reflects a deep knowledge of the field and is an outstanding work of scholarship."

"New and proposed accountability measures have the potential to reshape the higher education landscape in the coming years, both for better and for worse. Robert Kelchen deftly navigates the complicated patchwork of the current system, analyzing the benefits and drawbacks, while also providing valuable guidance to policymakers, practitioners, and researchers."

"Robert Kelchen’s Higher Education Accountability provides the most comprehensive top-to-bottom review of higher education accountability efforts currently available. Robert effectively engages the empirical literature but does so in a way that is accessible and actionable. Students, researchers, and practitioners will all find this volume to be helpful."

"Higher education accountability is all the rage, at least rhetorically, amongst policy makers of all stripes and at all levels. Kelchen shows how different and competing stakeholders have tried to make higher education accountable from the colonial period to the present—and underscores why accountability policy is so hard to do well."

"Kelchen takes a wide scope that tracks the history of efforts to prod colleges to do better, while also looking at the current environment and giving clues about what's to come."

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