Overview: Description of the Process
The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. The Commission’s mission is the enhancement of educational quality throughout the region and it strives to improve the effectiveness of institutions by ensuring that institutions meet standards established by the higher education community that address the needs of society and students. It serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices among the diverse institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Latin America and other international sites approved by the Commission on Colleges that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s, or doctoral degrees. The Commission also accepts applications from other international institutions of higher education. Source: SACSCOC
The process of accreditation through SACSCOC changed dramatically over the past few years, and our reaffirmation of accreditation will look very different from the one we last underwent in 2002. Here’s an overview of the current reaffirmation process:
Components of the reaffirmation:
- Compliance Certification with standards for accreditation
- Off-site peer review of the Compliance Certification
- Preparation of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)
- On-site peer reviews of QEP [anchor to below]
Extensive evidence (narrative and supporting documentation) of compliance with the Principle of Integrity, each of the sixteen Core Requirements, each of the fifty-eight Comprehensive Standards, and each of the seven Federal Requirements (federal regulations for Title IV funding). Expects to see a mature program assessment and administrative assessment along with complete facultycredentials.
The Compliance Certification includes basic, broad-based foundational requirements that institutions must meet to be accredited. The standards reflect basic expectations such as:
- Degree granting authority
- Governing board and chief executive officer
- General education requirements that offer a breadth of knowledge
- Adequate numbers of faculty
- Student support, financial, physical, and learning resources
The standard format for a response to one of the SACSCOC standards includes a narrative statement and then includes a list of .pdf files that documents our compliance with the standard. Here’s an example:
2.4 The institution has a clearly defined, comprehensive, and published mission statement that is specific to the institution and appropriate for higher education. The mission addresses teaching and learning and, where applicable, research and public service. (Institutional Mission)
___ Compliance ___ Partial Compliance ___Non-Compliance
The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is the second large document that SACSCOC requires for reaffirmation of accreditation. The QEP describes a focused, well-defined activity to be undertaken by the institution and that addresses a topic or issue(s) related to enhancing student learning. The QEP process ensures broad participation among faculty, staff, and students throughout the university into the identification and selection of a topic. After the reaffirmation process, the university oversees the implementation of the plan once it is developed.
Whereas the Compliance Certification looks at the past and present of the university, focusing especially on the past five years, the Quality Enhancement Plan looks at the future of the university: where we go from here and how we continue to improve.
Overall, SACSCOC is looking for:
- Institutional integrity: Honesty in our dealings with the Commission and with others and (2.) fulfillment of our stated mission.
- Quality enhancement as a concept – the process of assessing and improving. Evidence that the institution pursues continuous improvement in both academic and administrative areas through assessment in order to achieve its institutional and program-level goals and outcomes.
- Focus on student learning outcomes with evidence that students know what we taught them and are prepared to demonstrate what they know. Assessment of student learning outcomes in all majors at the program level, as well as in all educational support programs.
- A Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that focuses on student learning and has broad-based support across the institution.
- Qualified faculty with documentation (Faculty Rosters) showing they have the preparation to teach the courses to which they are assigned.
- Financial health and other resources to support the educational programs and mission of Appalachian State University.