Higher Education Accreditation: A Primer

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1 Higher Education Accreditation: A Primer Terri Day, PhD Assistant to the President for Planning and Institutional Effectiveness

2 What is Accreditation? Accreditation is a process that assures the public that an institution/program has clearly defined and appropriate objectives and maintains an environment where achievement is expected Accreditation encourages improvement through continuous self-study and review, and promotes excellence through the development of guidelines for assessing educational effectiveness

3 Types of Accreditation Institutional Accreditation: Applies to the entire institution (NWCCU) Specialized or Programmatic Accreditation: Applies to programs, departments or schools that are part of an institution (NCATE, ABET, NASPAA)

4 Six Regional Accrediting Agencies Northwest (includes Alaska) Western (includes Hawaii) North Central New England Middle States Southern

5 Number of Institutions Accredited by Regional Accrediting Organizations Western Association of Schools and Colleges 299 Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges 804 Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities 162 North Central Association of Colleges and Schools 1,012 New England Association of Schools and Colleges 241 Middle States Commission on Higher Education ,000 1,200

6 Purposes of Accreditation Ensure the quality of the institution Assist in the improvement of the institution Make certain the accredited organization has achieved an appropriate level of organizational proficiency and that it has reliable mechanisms in place to continually improve the quality of the educational services it provides

7 The Accreditation Process

8 Accreditation Process 7-year cycle Minimum of 4 reports during the 7-year cycle: Annual Report: Provides basic characteristics and new program information Year One Self-Evaluation Report: Mission and Core Themes (central characteristics of an institution s mission) Mid-Cycle (Year Three) Self-Evaluation Report: Institutional Assessment Year Seven Self-Evaluation Report: Mission, Core Themes, Resources and Capacity, Institutional Planning and Mission Fulfillment Provide Ad Hoc or Special Reports as requested

9 Accreditation Visit NWCCU sends a Peer Evaluation Team to each institution as part of the Year Seven Report Peer Evaluation Team writes a report and provides NWCCU a recommendation regarding what accreditation action should be assigned to the institution The NWCCU Board makes the final accreditation action decision based on the Peer Evaluation Team s recommendations

10 Potential Accreditation Actions Grant Candidacy or Initial Accreditation Continue Candidacy or Reaffirm Accreditation Request an Ad Hoc or Special Report and/or Visit Defer action on Candidacy or Accreditation Issue or Continue Warning Impose or Continue Probation Issue/Continue a Show-Cause order with Candidacy or Accreditation to terminate unless the institution has demonstrated that it has satisfied the Commission's concerns by a specific date Deny Candidacy or Accreditation Terminate Candidacy or Accreditation

11 What Are We Measured Against?

12 Accreditation Standards According to NWCCU, Standards for Accreditation are: statements that articulate the quality and effectiveness expected of accredited institutions, and provide a framework for continuous improvement within institutions. NWCCU s Standards: Mission and Core Themes Resources and Capacity Planning and Implementation Effectiveness and Improvement Mission Fulfillment, Adaptation and Sustainability

13 Accreditation Eligibility Requirements Operational status Authority Mission and Core Themes Operational Focus and Independence Non-Discrimination Institutional Integrity Governing Board Chief Executive Officer Administration Faculty Educational Program General Education and Related Instruction Library and Information Resources Physical and Technological Infrastructure Academic Freedom Admissions Public Information Financial Resources Financial Accountability Disclosure Relationship with the Accreditation Commission Student Achievement Institutional Effectiveness Scale and Sustainability

14 Who Monitors the Accrediting Agencies? The six accrediting agencies are required to have recognition by the United States Department of Education (USDE) in order to be eligible for federal student aid and other programs While accreditation is a nongovernmental activity, recognition is a USDE function

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