20 Facts on the Origins of the U.S. Department of Education and its former Foreign Credential Evaluation Service (FCES)

August 5th, 2015

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Unlike many countries in the world, the United States does not have a Ministry of Education, a centralized government body that oversees the country’s education system beginning with pre-school to doctoral level and professional education. The federal or national government of the U.S. does not have authority over education at any level. The U.S. does have in place the Department of Education.

1. 1867 – President Andrew Johnson signed legislation creating the first Department of Education, a Cabinet-level agency, but concerns the Department would exercise too much control over local schools led to its demotion to an Office of Education [OE] in 1868.

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President Andrew Johnson

2. As early as 1867, OE staff was publishing information on educational systems of countries around the world covering topics intended for governmental agencies and professors of comparative education at U.S. universities.

3. 1940s – The Comparative Education Section (CES) of the Office of Education became responsible for keeping information on educational developments around the world.

4. CES was responsible for gathering research and preparing data on educational systems throughout the world and availed its findings through publications and responded to inquiries on educational systems and institutions.

5. Mid-1950’s – OE provided publications that offered information relevant for international credential evaluations.

6. 1919 – The first request to have a foreign-educated person’s credentials evaluated was received by CES serving as the impetus for the formation of the Foreign Credential Evaluation Service [FCES].

7. 1960 – FCES was processing about 5,000 requests for international credential evaluations.

8. 1965 – FCES was processing about 8,500 requests for international credential evaluations.

9. 1967 – FCES was processing about 14,000 requests for international credential evaluations.

10. 1969 – FCES was estimated to process between 17,000 to 20,000 requests for international credential evaluations.

11. Evaluation services provided by FCES were free of charge and available to U.S. secondary schools, universities and colleges, federal government agencies and state governments, private organizations, professional associations, employers and individuals needing to have international credentials evaluated.

12. Evaluation reports prepared by FCES confirmed the U.S. educational equivalence of a credential in the form of a one-page checklist and did not provide any further details on the program studied, coursework completed, units of credit and grade equivalences.

13. FCES was supported through funds diverted by the OE from its CES. The FCES did not receive funds through budget appropriations for its services.

14. 1963 – The Commissioner of Education requested a report from the Education and World Affairs [EWA], a private, nonprofit educational organization funded by the Carnegie Corporation and the Ford Foundation, on the role of the OE and its services to U.S. educational institutions.

15. 1964 – EWA submitted its report and recommended that CES needs to increase and bolster its research activities and eliminate the FCES.

16. 1966 – OE announced that FCES would be terminated by July 1, 1968.

17. June 30, 1970 – FCES was terminated and the CES was dissolved a few years after.

18. By the time the CES was dissolved in the late 1960’s, it had a staff of 25 of which six were specialists in comparative education, with six research assistant and thirteen clerical staff.

19. October 17, 1979 – Congress passed the Department of Education Act (Public Law 96-88) and President Jimmy Carter signed into law the conversion of the Education division of U.S. Department of Health, Education Welfare into the U.S. Department of Education (DoE). The DoE began operations in May 1980.

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President Jimmy Carter

20. May 16, 1980 – DoE started its operation.

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U.S. Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan

Today, the US DoE’s official role is to set conditions for appropriation of federal funds for research, educational facilities, financial aid and education-related projects. The evaluation of international educational credentials is carried out by private credential evaluation agencies, educational institutions, state licensing boards, or professional associations.

Sources:
US Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/focus/what_pg2.html

Evaluating Foreign Educational Credentials in the United States: Perspectives on the History of the Profession, 2014, by James S. Frey, Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc.

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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