Higher Education: Issues Related to Law School Accreditation Page: 4 of 36
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documents pertaining to the ABA's application for renewed recognition.
We also interviewed Education officials, ABA representatives, and four
law school administrators. To identify the concerns that have been raised
about ABA's accreditation process, we reviewed third-party comments
submitted to Education in advance of the NACIQI meeting. We also
attended the December 2006 public meeting that NACIQI held to consider
ABA's application for continued recognition, and reviewed the transcript
of the meeting. Finally, we analyzed ABA data on first-year law school
enrollment and found the data sufficiently reliable for our purposes. We
conducted our work between October 2006 and February 2007 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
We briefed your staff on results of our analysis on February 9, 2007. This
report formally conveys the information provided during that briefing. In
summary, we reported the following findings:
* Education has established criteria for recognizing an accrediting
agency and has mechanisms in place to assess compliance with the
criteria. Agencies found to be in compliance with Education's criteria
can be approved for up to 5 years. There are also mechanisms in place
to defer or deny an agency's recognition.
* ABA has established standards for approval of law schools and has
mechanisms in place to assess compliance with the criteria. Law
schools are eligible for provisional approval when they demonstrate
that they are in substantial compliance with each of the standards, and
must demonstrate they are in full compliance to be fully approved.
* Some Education staff, law school administrators, and other third-
parties have raised concerns about ABA's accreditation process,
particularly with respect to the transparency and consistency of the
process, as well as the legality of its diversity standard, which requires
schools to demonstrate they are reaching out to underrepresented
groups. Based on concerns that ABA is not fully in compliance with
regulatory provisions that govern accreditation, Education and NACIQI
have recommended that the Secretary of Education renew ABA's
recognition for a period of 18 months, rather than the maximum period
of 5 years.
We provided copies of a draft of this report to the Department of
Education and the American Bar Association for review and comment. In
written comments, Education provided technical comments and
clarifications, which we incorporated as appropriate. In particular,
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/m1/4/: accessed October 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.