Accreditation systems can be analyzed in terms of the designer’s choices in three dimensions. One dimension is purpose of accreditation, where purpose may relate to program quality or quality of outcomes. The second dimension consists of types of accreditation norms used to achieve these purposes. There are five principal types of norms available in this dimension: process-quality norms, output norms, power allocation norms, self-determination norms, and consumer-protection norms. The third dimension consists of degree of regulation, which includes prescriptiveness or extensiveness of regulation. A sound accreditation system will make choices along each of these three dimensions. Understanding the range of possible structures helps one design, revise, and effectively analyze accreditation systems.
Jay Conison. "The Architecture of Accreditation" Iowa Law Review (2011). Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jay_conison/1