Improvements in methods of assessing educational outcomes are as central to accreditation reforms as they are to improvements in predoctoral education, entry-level licensure, and assessment of continued competency. Thus, cooperation and coordination among responsible organizations in each of these arenas should be established to avoid conflicting strategies and costly duplication of effort. Improvements in the processes for collecting information-particularly those based on electronic transfer of data—likewise will produce multiple benefits and should be coordinated.
The committee understood and sympathized with concerns expressed about self-regulation, but it believed that the major alternative—a federal accreditation process—would not, on balance, solve (and, in fact, might worsen) most current problems including costliness, inflexibility, and questionable effectiveness. The committee, however, does believe it prudent that dental accreditors and educators be prepared to respond constructively to reasonable demands for increased public accountability and information. The committee supported the goal of better information for the public, but members were split about recommending extensive disclosure of accreditation results. Most believed that the current process needed improvement first. Some believed that disclosure would promote defensiveness and work against cooperative and candid analyses of educational deficits and strategies for correcting them.
The committee agreed that after steps are taken to improve the validity and reliability of licensure and accreditation processes, the AADS, AADE, and CDA should investigate the relationships among accreditation results, school-wide pass rates on national written examinations and on regional or state clinical licensure examinations, student grades, and graduates' subsequent performance in practice. They should then review current policies limiting public disclosure of institution-level information about student performance on licensure examinations and should study the advantages and disadvantages of making more accreditation information public.
To protect students and the public from inferior educational programs and to reduce administrative burdens and costs, the committee recommends that the Commission on Dental Accreditation involve concerned constituencies in a sustained effort to: