How is accreditation conducted?
There are four phases to the accreditation process involving internal evaluation, external evaluation by professional peers, Commission evaluation, and institutional self-improvement to meet evolving regional and federal standards. Every seven years ACCJC members have agreed to undergo the comprehensive process to determine whether they are meeting the established Accreditation Standards and to develop ways to improve their future ability to serve students.
First, accreditation review starts with an internal evaluation. An ACCJC member institution engages in comparing itself to the Accreditation Standards, writes an internal self evaluation report, develops its plans for improvement where needed, and submits the self evaluation report to the ACCJC for review. Second, a trained team of education professional peers from member institutions conducts an external evaluation, which includes examining the self evaluation report, visiting the institution, examining institutional practices, and writing an evaluative report with recommendations both for meeting standards and for improving institutional practices. Third, the ACCJC evaluates all the information and makes the decision on the accredited status of the institution. The Commission may also provide recommendations and direction for institutional improvement in areas where standards are not met or improvement is needed. The fourth phase is about self-improvement and each institution uses the recommendations of the external evaluation team and the Commission to guide changes that make their educational quality better.
Member institutions work to improve institutional performance between comprehensive reviews. The Commission may monitor and advise an institution on meeting and exceeding the quality expectations. If an institution is out of compliance with the Accreditation Standards, the Commissioners may require a follow-up report from the institution, or another team visit, and/or may impose a sanction and deadlines for the institution to come into compliance with all Accreditation Standards. A sanction signals the institution and the public that there are institutional issues that need to be addressed if quality is to be maintained. While on sanction, institutional accreditation continues and the institution works to resolve any such issues.
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