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Joshua Yeidel

Refining the Recipe for a Degree, Ingredient by Ingredient - Government - The Chronicle... - 1 views

  • Supporters of the Lumina project say it holds the promise of turning educational assessment from a process that some academics might view as a threat into one that holds a solution, while also creating more-rigorous expectations for student learning. Mr. Jones, the Utah State history-department chairman, recounted in an essay published in the American Historical Association's Perspectives on History how he once blithely told an accreditation team that "historians do not measure their effectiveness in outcomes." But he has changed his mind. The Lumina project, and others, help define what learning is achieved in the process of earning a degree, he said, moving beyond Americans' heavy reliance on the standardized student credit hour as the measure of an education. "The demand for outcomes assessment should be seized as an opportunity for us to actually talk about the habits of mind our discipline needs to instill in our students," Mr. Jones wrote. "It will do us a world of good, and it will save us from the spreadsheets of bureaucrats."
    Lumina Foundation pushes a Eurpopean-style process to define education goals state- and nation-wide, with mixed success. "Chemistry, history, math, and physics have been among the most successful", whileothers have had a hard time beginning. "Supporters of the Lumina project say it holds the promise of turning educational assessment from a process that some academics might view as a threat into one that holds a solution, while also creating more-rigorous expectations for student learning. Mr. Jones, the Utah State history-department chairman, recounted in an essay published in the American Historical Association's Perspectives on History how he once blithely told an accreditation team that "historians do not measure their effectiveness in outcomes." But he has changed his mind. The Lumina project, and others, help define what learning is achieved in the process of earning a degree, he said, moving beyond Americans' heavy reliance on the standardized student credit hour as the measure of an education. "The demand for outcomes assessment should be seized as an opportunity for us to actually talk about the habits of mind our discipline needs to instill in our students," Mr. Jones wrote. "It will do us a world of good, and it will save us from the spreadsheets of bureaucrats."
Gary Brown

Views: Asking Too Much (and Too Little) of Accreditors - Inside Higher Ed - 1 views

  • Senators want to know why accreditors haven’t protected the public interest.
  • Congress shouldn’t blame accreditors: it should blame itself. The existing accreditation system has neither ensured quality nor ferreted out fraud. Why? Because Congress didn’t want it to. If Congress truly wants to protect the public interest, it needs to create a system that ensures real accountability.
  • But turning accreditors into gatekeepers changed the picture. In effect, accreditors now held a gun to the heads of colleges and universities since federal financial aid wouldn’t flow unless the institution received “accredited” status.
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  • Congress listened to higher education lobbyists and designated accreditors -- teams made up largely of administrators and faculty -- to be “reliable authorities” on educational quality. Intending to protect institutional autonomy, Congress appropriated the existing voluntary system by which institutions differentiated themselves.
  • A gatekeeping system using peer review is like a penal system that uses inmates to evaluate eligibility for parole. The conflicts of interest are everywhere -- and, surprise, virtually everyone is eligible!
  • accreditation is “premised upon collegiality and assistance; rather than requirements that institutions meet certain standards (with public announcements when they don’t."
  • Meanwhile, there is ample evidence that many accredited colleges are adding little educational value. The 2006 National Assessment of Adult Literacy revealed that nearly a third of college graduates were unable to compare two newspaper editorials or compute the cost of office items, prompting the Spellings Commission and others to raise concerns about accreditors’ attention to productivity and quality.
  • But Congress wouldn’t let them. Rather than welcoming accreditors’ efforts to enhance their public oversight role, Congress told accreditors to back off and let nonprofit colleges and universities set their own standards for educational quality.
  • ccreditation is nothing more than an outdated industrial-era monopoly whose regulations prevent colleges from cultivating the skills, flexibility, and innovation that they need to ensure quality and accountability.
  • there is a much cheaper and better way: a self-certifying regimen of financial accountability, coupled with transparency about graduation rates and student success. (See some alternatives here and here.)
  • Such a system would prioritize student and parent assessment over the judgment of institutional peers or the educational bureaucracy. And it would protect students, parents, and taxpayers from fraud or mismanagement by permitting immediate complaints and investigations, with a notarized certification from the institution to serve as Exhibit A
  • The only way to protect the public interest is to end the current system of peer review patronage, and demand that colleges and universities put their reputation -- and their performance -- on the line.
  • Anne D. Neal is president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. The views stated herein do not represent the views of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, of which she is a member.
    The ascending view of accreditation.
Gary Brown

Disciplines Follow Their Own Paths to Quality - Faculty - The Chronicle of Higher Educa... - 2 views

  • But when it comes to the fundamentals of measuring and improving student learning, engineering professors naturally have more to talk about with their counterparts at, say, Georgia Tech than with the humanities professors at Villanova
    • Gary Brown
      Perhaps this is too bad....
  • But there is no nationally normed way to measure the particular kind of critical thinking that students of classics acquire
  • er colleagues have created discipline-specific critical-reasoning tests for classics and political science
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  • Political science cultivates skills that are substantially different from those in classics, and in each case those skills can't be measured with a general-education test.
  • he wants to use tests of reasoning that are appropriate for each discipline
  • I believe Richard Paul has spent a lifetime articulating the characteristics of discipline based critical thinking. But anyway, I think it is interesting that an attempt is being made to develop (perhaps) a "national standard" for critical thinking in classics. In order to assess anything effectively we need a standard. Without a standard there are no criteria and therefore no basis from which to assess. But standards do not necessarily have to be established at the national level. This raises the issue of scale. What is the appropriate scale from which to measure the quality and effectiveness of an educational experience? Any valid approach to quality assurance has to be multi-scaled and requires multiple measures over time. But to be honest the issues of standards and scale are really just the tip of the outcomes iceberg.
    • Gary Brown
      Missing the notion that the variance is in the activity more than the criteria.  We hear little of embedding nationally normed and weighted assignments and then assessing the implementation and facilitation variables.... mirror, not lens.
  • the UW Study of Undergraduate Learning (UW SOUL). Results from the UW SOUL show that learning in college is disciplinary; therefore, real assessment of learning must occur (with central support and resources)in the academic departments. Generic approaches to assessing thinking, writing, research, quantitative reasoning, and other areas of learning may be measuring something, but they cannot measure learning in college.
  • It turns out there is a six week, or 210+ hour serious reading exposure to two or more domains outside ones own, that "turns on" cross domain mapping as a robust capability. Some people just happen to have accumulated, usually by unseen and unsensed happenstance involvements (rooming with an engineer, son of a dad changing domains/careers, etc.) this minimum level of basics that allows robust metaphor based mapping.
Gary Brown

Learning Assessment: The Regional Accreditors' Role - Measuring Stick - The Chronicle o... - 0 views

  • The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment has just released a white paper about the regional accreditors’ role in prodding colleges to assess their students’ learning
  • All four presidents suggested that their campuses’ learning-assessment projects are fueled by Fear of Accreditors. One said that a regional accreditor “came down on us hard over assessment.” Another said, “Accreditation visit coming up. This drives what we need to do for assessment.”
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Ms. Provezis reports, “almost every action letter to institutions over the last five years has required additional attention to assessment, with reasons ranging from insufficient faculty involvement to too little evidence of a plan to sustain assessment.”
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  • regional accreditors are more likely now than they were a decade ago to insist that colleges hand them evidence about student-learning outcomes.
  • The white paper gently criticizes the accreditors for failing to make sure that faculty members are involved in learning assessment.
  • “it would be good to know more about what would make assessment worthwhile to the faculty—for a better understanding of the source of their resistance.”
  • Many of the most visible and ambitious learning-assessment projects out there seem to strangely ignore the scholarly disciplines’ own internal efforts to improve teaching and learning.
Gary Brown

Online Colleges and States Are at Odds Over Quality Standards - Wired Campus - The Chro... - 1 views

  • the group called for a more uniform accreditation standard across state lines as well as a formal framework for getting a conversation on regulation started.
  • College officials claim that what states really mean when they discuss quality in online education is the credibility of online education in general. John F. Ebersole, president of Excelsior College, said “there is a bit of a double standard” when it comes to regulating online institutions; states, he feels, apply stricter standards to the online world.
    I note the underlying issue of "credibility" as the core of accreditation. It raises the question, again:  Why would standardized tests be presumed, as Excelsior does, to be a better indicator than a model of stakeholder endorsement?
Gary Brown

Reviewers Unhappy with Portfolio 'Stuff' Demand Evidence -- Campus Technology - 1 views

  • An e-mail comment from one reviewer: “In reviewing about 100-some-odd accreditation reports in the last few months, it has been useful in our work here at Washington State University to distinguish ‘stuff’ from evidence. We have adopted an understanding that evidence is material or data that has been analyzed and that can be used, as dictionary definitions state, as ‘proof.’ A student gathers ‘stuff’ in the ePortfolio, selects, reflects, etc., and presents evidence that makes a case (or not)… The use of this distinction has been indispensable here. An embarrassing amount of academic assessment work culminates in the presentation of ‘stuff’ that has not been analyzed--student evaluations, grades, pass rates, retention, etc. After reading these ‘self studies,’ we ask the stumping question--fine, but what have you learned? Much of the ‘evidence’ we review has been presented without thought or with the general assumption that it is somehow self-evident… But too often that kind of evidence has not focused on an issue or problem or question. It is evidence that provides proof of nothing.
    a bit of a context shift, but....
Gary Brown

For-Profit Hearing: Legislation Might Include All Colleges & Greed is Good « ... - 2 views

  • Democrats were being unfair in singling out the for-profit institutions.  Senator Enzi, the ranking minority member on the Committee, followed up with a statement released on the HELP webpage.  Enzi said. “It is naïve to think that these problems are limited to just the for-profit sector.”
  • Finances in higher education is confusing and accreditation is confusing
  • Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) asked if “student loans should be extended to programs that are not accredited.”  Ms. Asher gave a polite lesson on the difference between accrediting institution and accrediting program.
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  • Ms. Asher was also a champion of reviewing the financial incentives for colleges.  “We need to shift incentives for colleges to focus on outcomes for students.”
Gary Brown

Accreditation Council Sets Stricter Standards for Recognizing Accreditors - Government ... - 1 views

  • As Congress and the Education Department turn up the heat on accrediting agencies to be more stringent in monitoring colleges and universities,. a nongovernmental group is also raising its requirements for recognizing accreditors.
  • requiring accreditors to disclose the specific reasons for denying or withdrawing their approval of a college.
    I guess just saying because we say so no longer suffices.
Gary Brown

Views: Accreditation's Accidental Transformation - Inside Higher Ed - 0 views

  • Why the national attention? Why the second-guessing of the accreditation decisions? It is part of the accidental transformation of accreditation.
  • Academic quality assurance and collegiality -- the defining features of traditional accreditation -- are, at least for now, taking a backseat to consumer protection and compliance with law and regulation. Government and the public expect accreditation to essentially provide a guarantee that students are getting what they pay for in terms of the education they seek.
  • Blame the powerful demand that, above all, colleges and universities provide credentials that lead directly to employment or advancement of employment. Driven by public concerns about the difficult job market and the persistent rise in the price of tuition, accrediting organizations are now expected to assure that the colleges, universities and programs they accredit will produce these pragmatic results.
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  • The worth of higher education is determined less and less through the professional judgments made by the academic community. The deference at one time accorded accrediting organizations to decide the worth of colleges and universities is diminished and perhaps disappearing.
  • Do we know the consequences of this accidental transformation? Are we prepared to accept them? These changes may be unintended, but they are dramatic and far-reaching. Is this how we want to proceed? Judith S. Eaton is president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
    It is this discussion that programs that approach accreditation perfunctorily need to attend.
Gary Brown

Lawmakers Focus Ire on Accreditors for Abuses at For-Profit Colleges - Government - The... - 1 views

  • Six weeks after vowing to cull the bad apples from the for-profit higher-education sector, some Senate Democrats are asking whether the whole barrel is spoiled, and largely blaming accreditors for the rot.
  • Pressed by lawmakers, Mr. Kutz faulted the Education Department, saying it has failed in its oversight of the sector.
  • "Consistent oversight is going to be necessary," he said.
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  • Senate Democrats focused most of their ire on accreditors, grilling the head of one national agency about the standards it uses to judge institutions.
  • "Do you think maybe your rigorous standards aren't rigorous enough?" asked Senator Franken, of Minnesota.
  • it was "apparent to me that we need a hearing on accreditation."
  • "But your on-site evaluations didn't detect it," Senator Harkin said. "It seems like you accept the schools' word on what they're doing."
  • Mr. Harkin said he planned to "look into" the financing structure of the accrediting system, saying it "seems to be a situation that is rife with conflict."
  • That should please committee Republicans, who called for a broader investigation into higher education. Sen. Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, the top Republican on the education panel, said he would ask the GAO to expand its investigation to nonprofit colleges as well.
    Though the focus is on recruiting and finance of the for-profits, it is hard not to see more emphasis on verification coming down the pike....
Theron DesRosier

OECD Feasibility Study for the International Assessment of Higher Education Learning Ou... - 3 views

    "What is AHELO? The OECD Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO) is a ground-breaking initiative to assess learning outcomes on an international scale by creating measures that would be valid for all cultures and languages. Between ten and thirty-thousand higher education students in over ten different countries will take part in a feasibility study to determine the bounds of this ambitious project, with an eye to the possible creation of a full-scale AHELO upon its completion."
Gary Brown

For Accreditation, a Narrow Window of Opportunity - Commentary - The Chronicle of Highe... - 4 views

  • After two years as president of the American Council on Education, I feel compelled to send a wake-up call to campus executives: If federal policy makers are now willing to bail out the nation's leading banks and buy equity stakes in auto makers because those companies are "too big to fail," they will probably have few reservations about regulating an education system that they now understand is "too important to fail."
  • Regardless of party, policy makers are clearly aware of the importance of education and are demanding improved performance and more information, from preschool to graduate school. In this environment, we should expect college accreditation to come under significant scrutiny.
  • It has also clearly signaled its interest in using data to measure institutional performance and student outcomes, and it has invested in state efforts to create student-data systems from pre-kindergarten through graduate school.
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  • Higher education has so far navigated its way through the environment of increased regulatory interest without substantial changes to our system of quality assurance or federally mandated outcomes assessment. But that has only bought us time. As we look ahead, we must keep three facts in mind: Interest in accountability is bipartisan, and the pendulum has swung toward more regulation in virtually all sectors. The economic crisis is likely to spur increased calls from policy makers to control college prices and demonstrate that students are getting value for the dollar. The size of the federal budget deficit will force everyone who receives federal support to produce more and better evidence that an investment of federal funds will pay dividends for individuals and society.
  • If we do not seize the opportunity to strengthen voluntary peer accreditation as a rigorous test of institutional quality, grounded in appropriate measures of student learning, we place at risk a precious bulwark against excessive government intervention, a bulwark that has allowed American higher education to flourish. When it comes to safeguarding the quality, diversity, and independence of American higher education, accreditors hold the keys to the kingdom.
  • share plain-language results of accreditation reviews with the public.
  • all accreditors now require colleges and universities to put more emphasis on measuring student-learning outcomes. They should be equally vigilant about ensuring that those data are used to achieve improvements in outcomes
  • It takes very little close reading to see through the self-serving statements here: namely that higher education institutions must do a better PR job pretending they are interested in meaningful reform so as to head off any real reform that migh come from the federal authorities.
  • THEREFORE, let me voice a wakeup call for those who are really interested in reform--not that there are many.1.There will never be any meaningful reform unless we have a centralized and nationalized higher educational system. Leaving higher education in the hands of individual institutions is no longer effective and is in fact what has led to the present state we find ourselves in. Year after countless year we have been promised changes in higher education and year after year nothing changes. IF CHANGE IS TO COME IT MUST BE FORCED ONTO HIGHER EDUCATION FROM THE OUTSIDE.
  • Higher education in America can no longer afford to be organized around the useless market capitalism that forces too many financially marginalized institutions to compete for less and less.
  • Keeping Quiet by Pablo NerudaIf we were not so singled-mindedabout keeping our lives moving,and for once could do nothing,perhaps a huge silencemight interrupt this sadnessof never understanding ourselvesand of threatening ourselves with death.
    It is heating up again
Gary Brown

Quick Takes: May 13, 2010 - Inside Higher Ed - 2 views

  • A proposed change in the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's policies for recognizing accrediting agencies is drawing criticism from the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Under the proposed change, which is part of a larger revision of the council's procedures for reviewing the work of accreditors, would require agencies to show that they "inform the public of decisions on [individual colleges' or programs'] accreditation status and the reasons for these decisions."
  • CHEA language is ambiguous about the purpose of the new requirement." CHEA is seeking comment on the new standards.
    changing pressures influencing changes in accreditation, and a link to weigh in....
Gary Brown

Texas Law Requires Professors to Post Details of Their Teaching Online - Faculty - The ... - 1 views

  • Faculty members and administrators in Texas are speaking out about a recent state law that requires them to post specific, detailed information about their classroom assignments, curricula vitae, department budgets, and the results of student evaluations.
  • Beginning this fall, universities will have to post online a syllabus for every undergraduate course, including major assignments and examinations, reading lists, and course descriptions.
  • All of the information must be no more than three clicks away from the college's home page.
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  • "the worst example of government meddling at a huge cost to the public and for zero public good that I have ever seen."
  • "You get the feeling that the government sees us as slackers," she says. By requiring professors to list every assignment, she says the law interferes with her ability to respond to students' interests and current events and shift to different topics during the semester.
    another to watch--the politization of the, well, everything
Gary Brown

News: No Letup From Washington - Inside Higher Ed - 1 views

  • Virtually all of the national higher education leaders who spoke to the country's largest accrediting group sent a version of the same message: The federal government is dead serious about holding colleges and universities accountable for their performance, and can be counted on to impose undesirable requirements if higher education officials don't make meaningful changes themselves.
  • "This is meant to be a wakeup call," Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, said in Monday's keynote address
  • I believe it’s wise for us to assume they will have little reservation about regulating higher education now that they know it is too important to fail."
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  • Obama administration will be tough on colleges because its officials value higher education and believe it needs to perform much better, and successfully educate many more students, to drive the American economy.
  • In her own speech to the Higher Learning Commission’s members on Sunday, Sylvia Manning, the group’s president, cited several signs that the new administration seemed willing to delve into territory that not long ago would have been viewed as off-limits to federal intrusion. Among them: A recently published “draft” of a guide to accreditation that many accrediting officials believe is overly prescriptive. A just-completed round of negotiations over proposed rules that deal with the definition of a “credit hour” and other issues that touch on academic quality -- areas that have historically been the province of colleges and their faculties. And, of special relevance for the Higher Learning Commission, a trio of critical letters from the Education Department’s inspector general challenging the association’s policies and those of two other regional accreditors on key matters -- and in North Central’s case, questioning its continued viability. With that stroke, Manning noted, the department’s newfound activism “has come to the doorstep, or into the living room, of HLC.”
  • Pressure to measure student learning -- to find out which tactics and approaches are effective, which create efficiency without lowering results -- is increasingly coming from what Broad called the Obama administration's "kitchen cabinet," foundations like the Lumina Foundation for Education (which she singled out) to which the White House and Education Department are increasingly looking for education policy help.
  • She cited an October speech in which the foundation's president, Jamie P. Merisotis, said that student learning should be recognized as the "primary measure of quality in higher education," and heralded the European Union's Bologna process as a potential path for making that so
  • we cannot lay low and hope that the glare of the spotlight will eventually fall on others," Broad told the Higher Learning Commission audience.
  • While higher ed groups have been warned repeatedly that they must act before Congress next renews the Higher Education Act -- a process that will begin in earnest in two or three years -- the reality is that politicians in Washington no longer feel obliged to hold off on major changes to higher education policy until that main law is reviewed. Congress has passed "seven major pieces of legislation" related to higher education in recent years, and "I wish I could tell you that the window is open" until the next reauthorization, Broad said. "But we cannot presume that we have the luxury of years within which to get our collective house in order. We must act quickly."
  • But where will such large-scale change come from? The regional accreditors acting together to align their standards? Groups of colleges working together to agree on a common set of learning outcomes for general education, building on the work of the American Association of Colleges and Universities? No answers here, yet.
    Note the positions of the participants
Theron DesRosier

Obama proposes to raise academic standards by linking them to state benchmarks - washin... - 1 views

    "President Obama announced Monday he will seek to raise academic standards across the country by requiring states to certify that their benchmarks for reading and mathematics put students on track for college or a career. "
    NCLB Revives.
Gary Brown

Education Department Official Calls for More Transparency in Accreditation - Government... - 0 views

  • Martha J. Kanter, the No. 2 official in the U.S. Education Department, took higher-education accrediting organizations to task on Tuesday for being too secretive about how they assess colleges and for using outmoded standards that don't give enough weight to measuring student learning.
  • "Accreditation isn't transparent enough, it just isn't," Ms. Kanter said
  • The organizations that are responsible for assuring quality in higher education must consider whether their processes are really helping institutions improve and whether they are focusing too much on "inputs," such as the amount of time that students spend in class, and too little on what they have learned.
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  • Accreditors and institutions also should be more willing to open up the accrediting process, by making self-studies easily accessible to the public and to other colleges that want to learn best practices, by announcing the teams of peer reviewers that make campus visits for accreditation purposes, and by opening accrediting commission meetings to the public.
  • Making the entire process open could have the unintended consequence of giving an institution a bad reputation even as they are working diligently to correct problems, said Ms. Wheelan.
    Their debate is our debate--and challenge
Gary Brown

Views: Accreditation 2.0 - Inside Higher Ed - 0 views

  • The first major conversation is led by the academic and accreditation communities themselves. It focuses on how accreditation is addressing accountability, with particular emphasis on the relationship (some would say tension, or even conflict) between accountability and institutional improvement.
  • The second conversation is led by critics of accreditation who question its effectiveness in addressing accountability
  • The third conversation is led by federal officials who also focus on the gatekeeping role of accreditation.
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  • All are based on a belief that accreditation needs to change, though in what way and at what pace is seen differently
  • The emerging Accreditation 2.0 is likely to be characterized by six key elements. Some are familiar features of accreditation; some are modifications of existing practice, some are new: Community-driven, shared general education outcomes. Common practices to address transparency. Robust peer review. Enhanced efficiency of quality improvement efforts. Diversification of the ownership of accreditation. Alternative financing models for accreditation.
  • The Essential Learning Outcomes of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Collegiate Learning Assessment and the Voluntary System of Accountability of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities all provide for agreement across institutions about expected outcomes. This work is vital as we continue to address the crucial question of “What is a college education?”
  • peer review can be further enhanced through, for example, encouraging greater diversity of teams, including more faculty and expanding public participation
  • Accreditation 2.0 can include means to assure more immediate institutional action to address the weaknesses and prevent their being sustained over long periods of time.
  • Judith Eaton is president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, which is a national advocate for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation. CHEA has 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities as members and recognizes 59 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations.
    The way the winds are blowing
Joshua Yeidel

Capella Learning and Career Outcomes - Program Outcomes - 0 views

    Re: Capella U.'s "CHEA" award: it appears that CU is located in Lake Woebegone, where all the children are above average...
Gary Brown

Accrediting Agencies Confront New Challenges - Letters to the Editor - The Chronicle of... - 0 views

  • The Chronicle, December 17). In an era of global expansion in higher education, accreditation agencies are increasingly confronted with myriad challenges surrounding various forms of distance education (whether virtual, so-called branch campuses, or study abroad) and cross-institutional certification.
  • the American Academy for Liberal Education is particularly well placed to view this changing pedagogical and institutional landscape, both domestically and worldwide.
  • AALE goes several steps further in evaluating whether institutions meet an extensive set of pedagogical standards specifically related to liberal education—standards of effective reasoning, for instance, and broad and deep learning. This level of assessment requires extensive classroom visitations, conversations with students and faculty members, and the time to assess the climate of learning at every institution we visit.
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  • Innovation and quality in higher education can only join hands when institutions aspire—and are held to—independent, third-party standards of assessment.
    a small but clear stress made for independent review
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