By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, introduced legislation to allow for greater innovation in higher education on Monday.
Byrne’s bill, the Innovation in Accreditation Act would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to allow the Secretary of Education to waive requirements if accreditors can demonstrate the waiver is necessary to “enable an institution of higher education or program accredited by the agency or association to implement innovative practices.”
“Institutions of higher education take on many different forms and roles in order to meet the realities of today’s students,” Byrne said. “The Innovation in Accreditation Act would ensure that students and institutions are not unnecessarily punished or restricted by accreditors from using new and innovative strategies or teaching models.
“Our goal should always be to make it easier for any student to obtain a higher education, and this legislation would help do just that.”
To qualify for a waiver, the innovation must reduce administrative burdens, improve the delivery of services to students, improve learning outcomes, or otherwise benefit students. Accreditors would also be required to demonstrate that the waiver will not negatively impact academic quality or integrity.
Barbara Gellman-Danley, chair of the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions, announced her support for the legislation.
“New legislation—the Innovation in Accreditation Act—introduced by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), addresses real barriers accreditors face in approving initiatives to benefit students and reduce institutions’ administrative burdens,” Gellman-Danley said. “The Byrne bill can make a significant difference in freeing accreditors—and colleges—to advance strategies that have proven effective in yielding desired outcomes that otherwise would be prohibited.”
Byrne’s bill has not yet been assigned a number by the House.
Byrne is a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Byrne represents Alabama’s 1st Congressional District. Previously Byrne has served the people of Alabama on the state school board, as a state senator, and as head of the state two-year college system.