Higher Education: Issues Related to Law School Accreditation Page: 3 of 36
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Accountability * Integrity * Reliability
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548
March 8, 2007
The Honorable George Miller
The Honorable Howard P. "Buck" McKeon
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Education and Labor
House of Representatives
The Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones
House of Representatives
In order to participate in certain federal programs, such as federal student
financial aid, postsecondary institutions must be accredited by an
accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education
(Education). Accreditation ensures that schools provide basic levels of
quality in their educational programs, and Education recognizes those
agencies it concludes can reliably determine the quality of education
provided by the schools and programs they accredit. Since 1952,
Education has recognized the American Bar Association (ABA) as an
accrediting agency for law schools. ABA accreditation is important to the
195 law schools it accredits because it allows their graduates the flexibility
to take the Bar exam in any jurisdiction in the United States.
The Department of Education requires that all recognized accrediting
agencies periodically reapply for continued recognition. The Secretary of
Education's accreditation advisory group, the National Advisory
Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), considered the
ABA's most recent application for continued recognition in December
2006. The ABA was originally scheduled for review in December 2005, but
Education postponed it twice based on the large volume of public
comments that had to be reviewed, as well as concerns about the ABA's
diversity standard. To address your interest in these issues, we answered
the following questions: (1) What is Education's process for recognizing
accrediting agencies? (2) What is ABA's process for accrediting law
schools? (3) What concerns have been raised about the ABA's
We used the following methodologies to develop our findings. To
understand Education and ABA processes related to accreditation, we
reviewed relevant laws and regulations, ABA accreditation standards, and
GAO-07-314 Higher Education
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Higher Education: Issues Related to Law School Accreditation, report, March 8, 2007; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc302001/m1/3/: accessed January 21, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.