In 2006; the U.S. Department of Education sponsored what is termed the Spellings Commission Report; named after the serving Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. In a speech given in September 2005; Secretary Spellings stated that the purpose of this Commission is to launch a national dialogue about higher education in the USA and to provide leadership in shaping this dialogue because âas taxpayers; we all have a stake in the higher education system.â The desired effect; however; is to crate an agenda whose basis it is to change the definition of quality in American higher education. According to the American Association of University Professors (2006):
âWhat emerges from the report is a vision of higher education as a marketplace that should increasingly rely on uniform standards to measure outcomes and technological means to provide training in skills necessary for global economic competition. The process and quality of the educational experience; so central to the formation of a love of learning; civic virtues and social capital; are marginalized to the point of irrelevance.â
This purpose of this paper is to continue to argue the importance of adding policy as a fifth element in Demingâs SPK by studying the dynamics surrounding the Spellings Commission Report and the attempts at reframing notions of quality and quality assurance at institutions of higher education in the USA. The first part of this paper continues the discussions as to the merits of including public policy as part of SPK while the second part of this paper uses the hoped for impact of the Spellings Commission Report to illustrate how public policy does shape institutional definitions of quality at a strategic as well as compliance levels of institutional actions.
Keywords: Accreditation; quality assurance; policy; Demingâs System of Profound Knowledge (SPK)