Diploma Mills

Diploma Mills:
Don’t Strike Out
MASFAP Spring Conference
March 24, 2011
Program Integrity Regulations
Postsecondary Responsibility
FAFSA High School Question
The States
Diploma Mills
Program Integrity Regs
• Develop and follow procedures to evaluate
the validity of a high school diploma
• When?
– Reason to believe it is not valid
– Reason to believe it was not obtained from an
entity that provides secondary education
• Believed by Whom?
– The Secretary
– The institution
Program Integrity Regs
• Why regulations?
– Protect the integrity of the high school diploma
• Address the issue of high school diploma mills
• Growth of online high schools
• Fraud at some postsecondary institutions
– Address issues raised in 2009 GAO report
Institutional Responsibility
• Validity questioned by Secretary or institution
• Follow the required procedure
• Suggested documentation
– Copy of high school diploma
– Final high school transcript
– Evaluation report of foreign diplomas
• Self-certification is not sufficient
• No appeal to USDE
• Not applicable to home schooled students
• 2011-12 FAFSA
– Question 27
– First time entering students
– Information requested
• High school name
• High school city
• High school state
• “Drop-down” list
– Based on NCES high school survey
– Includes most public and private schools
– Not “good” or “bad” schools
Data collected for analysis only (for 2011-12)
No ISIR comments
Not required to collect diploma
Not required to compare information
• No USDE recognition of secondary level
• Not required/recommended as sole basis for
review under institutional procedure
• Without recognition, hard to determine
legitimate from the questionable
Regional Accreditation
• Same basic structure as postsecondary
– New England Assoc. of School and Colleges
– Middle States Assoc. – Commission on Secondary
– Southern Assoc. – Commission on Accreditation and
School Improvement (SACS-CASI)
– North Central Assoc. – CASI
– Northwest Association of Accredited Schools
– Western Assoc. – Accrediting Commission on Schools
Other Accreditors
• Distance Education and Training Council
– Accredits both secondary and postsecondary
– May have limited acceptance
• States
• Postsecondary
• AdvancEd
– 27,000 public and private schools accredited
– Commission on International and Trans-Regional
• No consistent requirements
• Standards vary widely from state to state
– PA
• Licensure/approval is required
• Primarily consumer protection focus
– FL
• No substantive regulation
– MO
• No substantive regulation of private high schools
Diploma Mill
• Offer a credential
• Typically a fee is charged
• Requires little or no academic work on the
part of the recipient
• Same definition as for a postsecondary
diploma mill
• Sounds simple but often is more complicated
Diploma Mill
• Not all online; not all are obvious
• Many offer all the same documents are
legitimate school
– Authentic looking diploma
– Complete transcript
– Contact information for verification
• May claim accreditation
• May claim/possess some type of state status
Tips and Suggestions
• How do you spot a diploma mill?
– Documentation and investigation
– No simple formula
– Look for signs
• Claims of unknown or unclear accreditation
– Often operated from same address as school
– Review list of accredited schools
• State Registration
– Often references corporate registration
• Texas Star Point Academy
– Registered with the State of Texas
– Accredited by North Central Texas Regional
Certification Agency
– Accredited by Texas Unified Certification Program
• Finishhighschool.com (Wyoming)
– Operates its own accrediting agency
– 25 question open book test
– Diploma and transcript for $495
Tips and Suggestions
• Unbelievable offers
– “Earn a recognized high school diploma from
Belford High School within 7 days, for just $249.”
– “Get your high school diploma on the basis of
prior knowledge and experience.”
– “Pass our simple online equivalency test to get
your high school diploma.”
Tips and Suggestions
• Grammatical and Spelling Errors
– Website, documents, even tests
• Testing
– Diploma for little or no study
– Simple, sometimes single test for diploma
• Low cost
– Substantially below legitimate schools
– Special deals, sale prices, combo purchases
Wrap Up
Watch for federal guidance (DCL, etc.)
Establish a policy and procedure
Look for accreditation, when claimed
Watch for the signs
Missouri Department of Higher Education
P.O. Box 1469
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Phone: (573) 751-2361
Fax: (573) 751-6635
Info. Center: (800) 473-6757
[email protected]

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