Fake institutions have been around a long time. A fake institution, also referred to as a diploma mill or degree mill, is an unaccredited institution of higher education that offers bogus degrees. Fake diplomas are created for any individual who pays the required tuition and fees. What is one factor that separates fake institutions from legitimate ones? Assessment.
Assessment includes the methods and pedagogical approaches that educators use to determine what is necessary for students to know and to measure, evaluate, and document the learning process. Regional accreditation recognized by the federal government requires institutions to provide evidence that assessment practices have been created and are used to show learning occurs. According to a study, Regional Accreditation and Student Learning Outcomes: Mapping the Territory, conducted by Staci Provezis from the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, “All regional accreditors expect learning outcomes to be defined, articulated, assessed, and used to guide institutional improvement.” (Provezis, p. 7) According to the U.S. Department of Education website: “In order for students to receive federal student aid from the U.S. Department of Education for postsecondary study, the institution must be accredited by a ‘nationally recognized’ accreditor (or, for certain vocational institutions, approved by a recognized state approval agency), be authorized by the state in which the institution is located, and receive approval from the Department through a program participation agreement.”
Accreditation and Assessment—the two degrees of separation between the legitimate institutions and the fake ones.