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FAQ’s About Reaffirmation - (SACSCOC and Accreditation)

  1. What is SACSCOC?

    The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (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.

    SACSCOC 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 on Colleges is the representative body of the College Delegate Assembly and is charged with carrying out the accreditation process.

    SACSCOC LINK: www.sacscoc.org

  2. What is accreditation?

    Accreditation is intended to assure constituents and the public of the quality and integrity of higher education institutions and programs, and to help those institutions and programs improve. These outcomes are achieved through rigorous internal and external review processes during which the institution is evaluated against a common set of standards. When accreditation is awarded to an institution of higher education by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a regional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education, it means that the institution has (1) a mission appropriate to higher education, (2) resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain its mission, (3) clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers, and that it is (4) successful in achieving its stated objectives.

    Accreditation is a statement of the institution’s continuing commitment to integrity and its capacity to provide effective programs and services based on agreed-upon accreditation standards.

  3. What are the SACSCOC requirements?

    The SACSCOC requirements are called the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement. They are a list of 73 principles and standards that we need to meet in order to be in full compliance with SACSCOC and receive our reaffirmation of accreditation. Access to the list of principles and standards is found at: http://www.sacscoc.org/principles.asp  

  4. How is this SACSCOC decennial reaffirmation different from our previous 10 year reviews?

    When IRSC was last reviewed (2002), we completed a “self-study” in response to standards that were called “Criteria.” Several committees participated in the creation of our self study. This time there is no self-study document per se. Instead IRSC will submit two major reports – a Compliance Certification Report, to be submitted in March of 2013, and a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), to be submitted several months later. The QEP is a much more focused report that outlines a major initiative tied to student learning. Both reports will be reviewed by off-site committees.

    There will be one on-site visit, and it will occur on October 8-10, 2013. Between seven and nine reviewers will be on campus for three days. They will review any areas of concern raised by the off-site team. Their chief purpose is to talk to IRSC faculty, staff, administrators and students about the QEP and to review a set of standards pre-selected by SACSCOC. This committee will write a report about IRSC’s compliance with all of the SACSCOC Commission on Colleges reaffirmation criteria.

    SACSCOC wants IRSC to provide clear objectives, ways to measure the outcomes of those objectives and proof that those objectives are being continued into the future – all focused on the primary desired outcome of quality education for the student.

  5. How can I be involved in IRSC’s reaffirmation process?

    Be involved with the QEP! Contact the Office of: QEP Coordinator.

  6. How do I ask questions about IRSC and SACSCOC?

    Please send an email to: sacsinfo@irsc.edu

  7. What is the point of the QEP?

    The QEP is a five-year plan designed to enhance the quality of student learning by focusing on a theme and specific student outcomes. For more information about the QEP see the link to the SACSCOC QEP Handbook for more information.

  8. When do these QEP initiatives begin?

    If our plan is approved, the QEP Initiative begins in 2014 (a pilot will be conducted in 2013).

  9. What will the Off-site Committee do?

    The Off-Site Peer Review Committee, composed of a chair and normally eight to ten evaluators, meets in Atlanta, Georgia, and reviews Compliance Certifications of a group of institutions to determine whether each institution is in compliance with all Core Requirements (except Core Requirement 2.12), Comprehensive Standards, and Federal Requirements. The group of institutions evaluated, called a cluster, normally will consist of no more than four institutions similar in governance and degrees offered. At the conclusion of the review, the Off-Site Peer Review Committee will prepare a separate report for each institution, recording and explaining its decisions regarding compliance. The report is forwarded to the respective institution’s On-Site Review Committee which makes its final determination about compliance while visiting the institution.

  10. What will the On-site Committee do when it comes to IRSC?

    Following review by the Off-Site Committee, an On-Site Review Committee of peers will conduct a focused evaluation at the campus to finalize issues of compliance with the Core Requirements, Comprehensive Standards, and Federal Requirements; provide consultation regarding the issues addressed in the QEP; and evaluate the acceptability of the QEP. At the conclusion of its visit, the On-Site Review Committee will prepare the Report of the Reaffirmation Committee, a written report of its findings noting areas of noncompliance, including the acceptability of the QEP. The Report of the Reaffirmation Committee, along with the institution’s response to areas of non-compliance, will be forwarded to the Commission for review and action.

  11. What happens after the On-site Committee leaves IRSC?

    The On-Site Committee submits its report to the Commission. The institution prepares a response to the On-Site Committee’s report and submits it to the Commission. The Commission reviews the findings included in the report of the On-Site Committee and the institution’s response and takes action on the institution’s reaffirmation.

  12. Is it unusual for a college to receive recommendations?

    No. In fact, recommendations are common. The Commission staff communicates to the institution the findings of the report prepared by the Off-Site Review Committee. The institution may choose to submit a Focused Report in response to the committee’s findings. The On-Site Committee receives a written copy of the Off-Site Committee’s report and the institution’s Focused Report, if one is submitted.

  13. Do recommendations threaten accreditation?

    Yes, they will if the institution does not take appropriate and acceptable action to come into compliance with the principles.

  14. What happens to the college’s response to the recommendations?

    The Commissions’ Compliance and Reports (C&R) Committee will receive and review the report of the On-Site Review Committee, the response of the institution to the committee’s report, the institution’s Compliance Certification, and it’s Quality Enhancement Plan. The full Commission will receive the C&R Committee report and will make a decision regarding the reaffirmation of the institution’s accreditation and any follow-up activities that it requires of the institution. The Commission makes decisions regarding accreditation status twice each year – in June for Track A institutions (IRSC) and in December for Track B institutions.

  15. What options does the Commission on Colleges have in regard to accreditation?

    The Commission on Colleges (COC) can reaffirm an institution’s accreditation with or without requiring additional follow-up reports. It can grant reaffirmation but place an institution on Notice for a maximum of a year or defer reaffirmation until the next COC meeting while awaiting compliance reports. The COC can deny reaffirmation and place a college on either Warning or Probation for up to two years. Lastly, the COC can deny an institution reaffirmation and remove it from membership in the Commission on Colleges. The status of an institution’s accreditation becomes public knowledge when accreditation actions are read in open session at the College Delegate Assembly and published in the Proceedings of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  16. When will the Commission on Colleges announce a decision about the accreditation status of IRSC?

    The Commission on Colleges will make a decision about the accreditation status of IRSC at its June 2014 meeting and announce its findings at College Delegate Assembly.




QUESTIONS ABOUT
IRSC AND SACSCOC?

Email us at:
sacsinfo@irsc.edu




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