California Analyst Recommends SARA

In a report issued in December 2013, the California Legislative Analyst Office recommended SARA as a good way to solve the problem of excess complexity in interstate operation of distance education programs.

The report, entitled Oversight of Private Colleges in California, was primarily an evaluation of the functions and focus of the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, but an entire page was devoted to a discussion of changes in the online educational environment. The analyst’s conclusion was that:

Through SARA, the Bureau could oversee online schools enrolling California students with minimal additional workload by recognizing approval from other participating states that meet mutually agreed-upon standards. We recommend the Legislature provide statutory authorization for the Bureau to participate in SARA and to grant reciprocal approval to institutions licensed in other states. In addition to facilitating better protection for California students, this would enable colleges overseen by the Bureau (including those volunteering for business practices review) to receive multistate authorization through an efficient process.

Although California is highly decentralized for purposes of postsecondary oversight, the analyst’s report is expected to serve as a catalyst for movement toward recognition of SARA as the best method available to advance the needs of providers of online education while offering adequate student protection.

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