Northwest Regional Accreditation: Principles, Practices, and Products

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1 Northwest Regional Accreditation: Principles, Practices, and Products Ronald L. Baker, Ed.D. Deputy Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

2 Answer Key The answer to meeting the Commission s expectations regarding the accreditation of this institution is to... do the right thing!

3 Enabling Tool Accreditation assists institutions in confirming their purposes by requiring them to examine their actions and accomplishments in light of their missions and goals.

4 Recognition The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities is recognized as a reliable authority on educational quality by: U.S. Department of Education CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation) Institutions of higher education State agencies Public

5 Regional Accreditation Heritage Oldest seal of institutional quality Voluntary, non-governmental process Driven by institutional mission Encourages continuous improvement Requires institutional self-analysis Based upon periodic peer review Fosters confidence in transfer of credit

6 Accreditation Triad

7 Accreditation Benefits Eligibility for HEA programs (Title IV) Eligibility for federal funds for categorical programs and services Fosters transfer of credit Continuous improvement from regular, systematic, and purposeful assessment

8 Types of Accreditation Institutional Specialized Total Institution Organized Regionally and Nationally Specific Program Organized Nationally Relies on Universal, Generally Relies on Program- Qualitative Standards Specific Quantitative Standards Emphasizes Achievement of Institution Mission and Goals Relies Heavily on an Institution-wide Self-study Emphasizes Achievement of Program Standards Relies Moderately, but Increasingly on Self-study

9

10 Institutions By Type Accredited 153 Public Private 2-year 69 2-year 3 4-year 37 4-year Candidates for Accreditation - 4 Public 2-year 2 Private 4-year 2

11 Students By Institution Type Total Student Headcount 1,061,610* Total Student FTE 649,700* Public Private Headcount FTE Headcount FTE 2-year 502, ,779 12,368 11,625 4-year 427, , ,371 97, , , , ,804 *Fall 2001

12

13 Commission Representation Baccalaureate/Graduate Institutions 7* Pre-baccalaureate Institutions 7* General Public 4 Other Regional Accrediting Agencies 2 Chair 1 Executive Director (ex-officio) 1 26 (max) *minimum

14 Institutional Representation by State Alaska 1 Idaho 1 Montana 3 Nevada 1 Oregon 6* Utah 2 Washington 4 * Includes Commission Chair

15 Commission Staff Dr. Sandra E. Elman Executive Director Dr. Ronald L. Baker Deputy Executive Director Dr. Albert E. Johnson, Jr., Associate Executive Director

16 Commission Staff Ms. Peggy J. Arnold Executive Assistant Ms. Ruth S. Bedford Senior Administrative Assistant Ms. Cheryl Cadden Administrative Assistant/Workflow Coordinator Mr. Mike Luttge Technology Support Specialist

17 Scope of Accreditation Regional accreditation: Applies to the institution as a whole Is not partial Is not for a fixed period of time Does not apply to institutional units or individual educational programs

18 Implications of Accreditation A regionally accredited institution: Has clearly defined and appropriate educational objectives; Has conditions under which its objectives can reasonably be achieved; Is judged to be substantially accomplishing its objectives; and Is reasonably organized, staffed, and supported to continue to do so.

19 Influences on Accreditation Shifts in societal values and attitudes Economic vs. social model Political expediency Expectations for meaningful evidence and documentation of achievements Reliance on independent judgments Skepticism of self-regulation

20 Policy Implications Historical Focus Current Focus Access Capacity Improvement Accountability Mission Diversity Uniformity Autonomy Collaboration

21 Evaluating Quality Quality cannot be defined in exactly the same terms for all institutions. Regional accreditation evaluates it in terms of: Institutional characteristics; Institutional mission; and Extent to which institutional mission and goals are achieved Institutional compliance with the Commission s accreditation criteria.

22 Accreditation Criteria Eligibility Requirements - characteristics and conditions required for accreditation. Standards - criteria by which quality and effectiveness are evaluated. Related Policies - part of the Standards; provide further definition to the Standard.

23 Criteria Attributes Agreed upon by member institutions Framework of conditions and principles Qualitative statements that characterize quality and effectiveness Honor diversity of institutional missions, characteristics, and cultures Require evidence, assessment, and analysis to support claims Foster institutional improvement

24 Standards One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Institutional Mission and Goals, Planning and Effectiveness Educational Program & Its Effectiveness Students Faculty Library and Information Resources Governance and Administration Finance Physical Resources Institutional Integrity

25 Taxonomy of a Standard Standard Number and Title Example Standard Two - Educational Program and Its Effectiveness

26 Standard Element Standard Element Number and Title (Conceptual Framework) Example Standard 2.B - Educational Program Planning and Assessment

27 Element Narrative Standard Element Narrative (Philosophy) Example Educational program planning is based on regular and continuous assessment of programs in light of the needs of the disciplines, the fields, or occupations for which programs prepare students, and other constituencies of the institution.

28 Standard Indicator Standard Indicator & Declarative Statement (Quality Measures) Example 2.B.2 The institution identifies and publishes the expected learning outcomes for each of its degree and certificate programs. Through regular and systematic assessment, it demonstrates that students who complete their programs, no matter where or how they are offered, have achieved these outcomes.

29

30 Mission Driven Evaluation An evaluation by the Commission proceeds from the institution s own definition of mission and goals and determines the extent to which mission and goals are achieved and comply with the Commission's Eligibility Requirements and Standards.

31 Areas of Emphasis Institutional Planning and Effectiveness (Standard Element 1.B) Educational Program Planning & Assessment (Standard Element 2.B) General Education/Related Instruction (Policy 2.1) Educational Assessment (Policy 2.2) Distance Education (Policy 2.6) Advertising, Recruitment, and Accredited Status (Policy 3.1)

32 Areas of Emphasis (continued) Faculty Evaluation (Policy 4.1) Governance System, Board, and Administration (Standard Elements 6.A, 6.B, 6.C) Financial Planning, Adequacy, and Management (Standard Elements 7.A, 7.B, 7.C) Contractual Agreements with External Organizations (Policy A-6) Terminating a Site or Program (Teach-Out Agreements, Policy A-13)

33 Institutional Planning/Effectiveness Each accredited and candidate institution is expected to: Engage in ongoing planning to achieve its mission and goals; Evaluate how well, and in what ways, it is accomplishing its mission and goals; and Demonstrate that results are used for broadbased, continuous planning and evaluation.

34 Educational Assessment The institution's processes for assessing its educational programs are clearly defined, encompass all of its offerings, are conducted on a regular basis, and are integrated into the overall planning and evaluation plan. Expected learning outcomes are identified and published for each degree and certificate program.

35 Educational Assessment Regular and systematic assessment documents that students who complete programs, no matter where or how offered, have achieved these outcomes. The institution provides evidence that its assessment activities lead to the improvement of teaching and learning.

36 Assessment Procedure

37 Student Information and Practices All candidate and accredited institutions, or individuals acting on their behalf, must exhibit integrity and responsibility in advertising, student recruitment, and representation of accredited status.

38 General Education Baccalaureate and transfer associate degree programs must include a substantial core of collegiate level General Education with identifiable outcomes in: Written and oral communication; Quantitative reasoning; Critical analysis and logical thinking; and Literacy in the discourse or technology appropriate to the program of study. Outcomes should be stated in relationship to institutional mission and goals.

39 Related Instruction Programs of study for applied or specialized associate degrees or for certificate programs of 45 (q) / 30 (s) credits or more in length require recognizable a body of instruction in program-related areas of: Communication Computation Human Relations Additional topics as appropriate

40 Related Instruction Related instruction content may be : embedded within program curricula; or taught in block units of instruction. Regardless of approach, it must be: clearly identified; pertinent to the program of study; and taught by faculty who are clearly and appropriately qualified.

41 Distance Education This policy is intended to apply to the broadest possible definition of distance delivery of instruction. Degree programs and credit courses may or may not be delivered exclusively via telecommunications.

42 Faculty Evaluation Institutions are expected to conduct some form of substantive performance evaluation of all faculty members at least once within each five-years of service. The evaluation should be collegial, participatory, and use multiple indices of assessment.

43 Contractual Agreements An accredited or candidate institution may not lend the prestige or authority of its accreditation to authenticate courses or programs offered under contract with other organizations unless it demonstrates oversight and responsibility for those offerings in compliance with Commission standards, principles, and practices.

44 Teach-Out Requirements An institution is required to provide equitable treatment of students if it closes or discontinues an educational program before all students enrolled in the discontinued program complete it. It may offer the remaining portion of the program for enrolled students or enter into a teach-out agreement for completion of the program through another institution.

45 Evaluation Criteria Characteristics The Commission s accreditation criteria are not prescriptive. They do not: require particular planning/evaluation methods; specify the nature of assessment data; define "adequate, appropriate, or sufficient since they are influenced by institutional characteristics and mission; but do require outcome assessment as a continuous and integral part of planning.

46 Noteworthy Themes Standards Are Interrelated. Repetition among the Standards and Policies emphasizes the interconnected nature of the institution. Assessment, Evaluation, Measurement, or Judgment of Quality and Effectiveness is Explicitly Referenced in Each Standard.

47 Query How does this talk grow corn? Hopi Saying

48 Culture Of Evidence Do you set standards of educational quality and institutional effectiveness? Do you define indicators of success? Do you systematically gather, analyze, and evaluate assessment data? Do you use the results to document and improve educational quality, student achievements, and institutional effectiveness?

49

50 Self-Study Study Goals Assess, analyze, evaluate, and improve planning and effectiveness in fulfilling institutional and educational missions; Evaluate and document educational quality and student achievement of outcomes; Document compliance with accreditation criteria; Accurately, candidly, directly identify strengths, challenges, and achievements.

51 What is the Self-Study? Study? High definition snapshot of the institution Authentic reflection of institutional reality

52 Scope of Responsibility Accreditation is a joint responsibility. You are not personally responsible for the accreditation status of your institution.

53 Compass Check You got to be careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there. Yogi Berra If you don t know where you re going, any road will do. White Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland When heading in the wrong direction, going faster isn t better!

54 Quality and Accountability Does the institution fulfill its mission? Are institutional goals achieved? Are intended outcomes realized? Do outcomes match intentions? Are the outcomes sustainable? How do you know? What is your evidence?

55 Model Self-Study Study Characteristics Design is appropriate to the institution Process is inclusive; internally motivated with leaders committed to the process Critical review of mission, goals, and practices Assesses and evaluates effectiveness in achieving mission & goals Report is data driven and analytic with a minimum of description Self-study outcomes inform planning

56 Power of Leverage At cruising speed, it is almost impossible to turn the rudder of a large ship. However, by placing a small movable extension on the rudder s trailing edge, the easily controlled trimtab compresses water flowing past the rudder, creating a partial vacuum that pulls the rudder in the desired direction. Thus, the trimtab, which is very small compared to the ship, determines the the course of the vessel.

57 Role of the Steering Committee Motivation, encouragement, and support Design the study; translate it into clearly defined structures, roles and tasks Compile clear charges; make assignments Set a realistic schedule; allocate resources Establish clear communication channels Develop a glossary of terms Coordinate collection & synthesis of data

58 Steering Committee Responsibilities

59 Conducting the Self-Study Study Identify institutional outcomes Identify criteria that measure intended institutional/program outcomes Collect data based upon the criteria Assess, analyze, and evaluate the data Indicate how results are used in planning Develop and implement change strategies

60 Design Strategies Outcomes-based strategy planning: Identify outcomes for the study Develop guiding framework Develop models for components Develop templates for data gathering Develop style sheets Reactionary strategy consequences: Move quickly to data collection Cope with inconsistent unwieldy data Wade through layers of ambiguity Focus on parts, rather than whole

61 Conservation of Momentum Issue Synthesis of input may omit some input which may alienate some constituents Suggestions Provide many input/feedback opportunities Use final report as overarching framework Keep input intact at department level Use final report to reengage participants to advance efforts at the departmental level

62 Self-Study Calendar The importance of the calendar with specific completion dates cannot be over emphasized. Tasks will generally take all the time given, so assign reasonable amounts of time to each task and closely monitor progress in completing them.

63 Comprehensive Self-Study Study Report Thorough, comprehensive, and analytic appraisal of the institution. Clear, concise, and accurate highdefinition snapshot of the institution including its history, current situation, and vision for the future. Evidence that results of the selfevaluation are used to enhance its ability to achieve its mission and goals.

64 Report Attributes Scholarly, readable, useful treatment Candid and direct disclosure of reality Clearly addresses accreditation criteria Analytic assessment of achievements Identifies strengths Identifies areas for improvement Draws evidence-based conclusions and judgments (not a walk in the woods with words) Articulates plans for improvement

65 Suggestions For Practice Provide a glossary Be concise! ( pages + appendices) Get to the point! Be direct and candid Speak in a common voice Flow should be smooth and logical Synthesize across units Proof final copy for errors

66 Structure and Contents Preface Glossary of Terms Summary of institutional characteristics Major changes since last evaluation BRIEF! description of self-study process Scope of inclusion in the self-study Goals of self-study Address Eligibility Requirements

67 Structure and Contents Executive Summary Succinct comprehensive evaluation Institutional context Summary of major findings Commendations and Recommendations Plans for improvement Progress to date

68 Structure and Contents Standard Chapters Do not repeat support documents Be brief on intentions and descriptions Assess achievements and analyze data Supply evidence to support judgments Provide a summary, including: Major findings Commendations and Recommendations Plans for improvement Progress to date

69 Structure and Contents Summary Chapter Institutional synthesis across Standards Major findings Commendations and Recommendations Plans for improvement Progress to date

70 Accompanying Documentation Basic Institutional Data Form Catalog Schedule of Classes

71 Third Party Comment Notice US DOE regulations require an opportunity for third-party comment concerning an institution s qualifications for accreditation or preaccreditation. The institution is expected to provide notification to its publics regarding the impending visit and send a verification copy of that public notice to the office of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. 34 CFR Section (b)

72 Preparing for the Visit Identify an institutional liaison for each member of the visiting committee. Publish Third Party Comment Notice. At least 30 days prior to the visit, mail required documents to the Commission office and each Committee member. Organize exhibits in the Committee room. Gather computers and support resources in the Committee room.

73 Use of Results Institutions are expected to use their own findings and findings by evaluator(s) to implement actions that lead to improvements in institutional effectiveness and educational quality.

74 Role of Evaluation Committee Review the self-study report Conduct an onsite visit to validate information in the self-study report Evaluate the institution against the Commission s accreditation criteria Analyze findings Prepare a written report Submit a confidential recommendation to the Commission

75 Evaluator Characteristics An evaluator: Represents the Commission Volunteers his/her time Is from an out-of-state institution with similar characteristics Has specific area(s) of responsibility Has knowledge of the assigned area(s) Has completed Commission training

76 Anatomy of the Visit Day 0 4:00 p.m. pre-visit meeting Day 1 Introductory Meeting Evaluation Activities Private Committee Meeting Day 2 Evaluation Activities Private Committee Meeting Day 3 Final Private Committee Meeting Chair Meets with President Exit Meeting

77 Following the Visit The institution may: Review a draft of the evaluation report to correct factual errors. Provide a written response to the evaluation report. Send individuals to represent it when its accreditation is considered

78 Considerations In taking action the Commission considers: Institutional report; Evaluation report; Institution s written response to the evaluation report (if provided); Committee chair s comments; Institutional representatives comments; Third-party comments; Confidential Recommendation.

79 Commendations Commendations recognize noteworthy achievements of the institution.

80 Recommendations Recommendations identify areas for immediate action by the institution because it: Does not comply with a standard for accreditation Complies with a standard, but improvement is required

81 Enforcement Of Standards (US DOE Recognition Criterion 34 CFR ) If an institution is found to be out of compliance with any standard for accreditation, the agency must immediately initiate *adverse action against the institution or require it to take appropriate action to bring itself into compliance with the standard within two years, if the longest program it offers is at least two years in length. * Denial or withdrawal of accreditation or candidate status

82 Commission Actions Grant Candidacy/Accreditation Reaffirm Accreditation Continue Candidacy Request Progress Report Request Focused Interim Report/Visit Remove Warning/Probation/Show-Cause Defer Action Issue or Continue Warning Impose or Continue Probation Issue or Continue Show-Cause Terminate Accreditation or Candidacy

83 Typical Weaknesses Incongruent mission, goals, & activities Lack of assessment and analysis No consequences from the self-study Little, if any, use of external data Data not clearly tied to planning, assessment, or institutional effectiveness Unsupported statements of apparent fact Lack of synthesis across Standards

84 Reflection and Evaluation Is institutional mission fulfilled? Are intended institutional, program, and learning outcomes implied or stated? Are achievements assumed or assessed? Are outcomes achieved? How do you know? What do you have as evidence?

85 Guiding Questions Who are we? (Values) What do we claim to do? (Mission) How are we going to do it? (Planning) Are we doing it? (Integrity) How well are we doing it? (Effectiveness) How do we know? (Evaluation) What data do we collect? (Evidence) What do the data tell us? (Analysis) How do we use the results? (Improvement)

86 Final Thoughts Good intentions are no proxy for poor results. Confession of sins may cleanse the soul, but does not ensure absolution for the sinner. Actions speak louder than words. Anonymous Never mistake motion for action. Hemmingway

87 Questions? Ron Baker Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities th Avenue NE, Suite 100, Redmond, WA / (voice) 425/ (fax)

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