The Education Department’s definition of a credit hour — one hour in class and two hours studying — should be rescinded, charges the American Council on Education in a letter (pdf) to Secretary Arne Duncan signed by representatives of 72 organizations.
With this language, the Department of Education has federalized a basic academic concept and, at the same time, developed a complex, ambiguous and unworkable definition.
. . . with little evidence of a problem and no evidence that Congress wants the federal government to intervene in this area, the department intends to use accreditors to extend federal authority over academic decision-making on local campuses.
The federal definition measures “seat time,” ACE complains. In addition, colleges and universities are supposed to come up with ways to measure innovative learning models, such as online classes or service learning, but that’s where “ambiguous” and “unworkable” come in.
Complying with the new rule will be time-consuming and burdensome, ACE argues.
The Education Department hopes to prevent institutions from offering inflated credits to keep students eligible for federal loans.