Commission Update on Accreditation Redesign - February 23, 2012
An Open Letter to WASC Senior College Commission Institutions
RE: Update on the Accreditation Redesign
At its February 22-24, 2012 meeting, the Commission reviewed comments received from over 30 institutions and the University of California and California State University systems on key parts of the WASC accreditation redesign, especially those relating to graduation proficiencies and a proposal for external validation of at least two of these proficiencies. Many of these comments raised serious concerns with the ways in which these two initiatives would be implemented. The Commission determined that there is need for further consultation about the Commission’s underlying goals for the redesign and the best ways to achieve these goals. As a result, the Commission acted to suspend implementation of the action taken in November 2011 regarding defining and assessing the five graduation proficiencies and withheld any further action on the issue of external validation until further consultation is conducted.
The Commission also reaffirmed that it is the responsibility of each institution to define the outcomes of its degrees, set appropriate levels of attainment for graduates, and select for itself the most appropriate means of assessing and assuring that these outcomes have been achieved. It is the responsibility of the Commission, through the peer review process, to validate that the outcomes and levels of attainment set by the institution are appropriate for the degree and that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that graduates “consistently achieve these stated levels of outcomes.” We stand together in assuring and protecting institutional autonomy and diversity.
The following timeline was approved by the Commission:
- Seek further consultation through the meetings of CEOs, CAOs, and ALOs at the Academic Resource Conference April18-20, 2012 in Costa Mesa, CA and in the open session with the Presidents and Chancellors.
- Hold additional meetings, as possible, prior to the ARC and after the ARC, with specific stakeholder groups to develop new ideas and approaches.
- Discuss proposed revisions to the redesign at the Commission meeting June 13-15, 2012 and allow for further input at that meeting.
- Circulate changes to these initiatives over the summer for comment.
- Take final action on Accreditation Redesign at the November 2012 Commission meeting.
The Commission believes that this additional period will enable opportunity to explore together with the multiple constituencies the Commission serves how best to address issues of educational quality and student achievement. The Commission seeks to build on existing Standards of Accreditation, especially Criteria for Review 2.2 and 2.6, as well as honor the work already undertaken by all institutions under the 2001/2008 Handbooks over the past decade.
The challenge before the Commission, and all WASC accredited institutions, is to find ways to address the criticisms of both accreditation and higher education regarding transparency, completion, and educational quality. The Commission has moved to address transparency and completion and is deeply concerned with the perceived and real “quality gap” in the levels of performance and achievement of graduates. Such a gap has been reflected in multiple surveys of academics, studies of student performance, and employer surveys. The Commission views that accreditation can and must demonstrate that quality can be assured within the context of institutional mission and type.
The Commission will move forward with other elements of the redesign as scheduled, including the publication of team reports and action letters, reviews of retention and graduation, simplified financial reporting and review, and continuing with the redesigned institutional review process. These will be reported separately and also discussed at the ARC.
We look forward to working with you to strengthen WASC accreditation.
Linda Johnsrud, Chair of the Commission
Anna DiStefano, Chair of the Accreditation Redesign Steering Committee
Ralph Wolff, WASC President
Click here to read the Summary of Comments from the Region