A state accreditation team recently provided their exit report regarding their four-day site visit including overall comments, five commendations, and seven possible recommendations.
Stephanie Fleming, accreditation faculty coordinator and Kathleen Scott, accreditation liaison officer, reviewed the exit report and presented it to the board at last week’s meeting along with a preliminary plan to address those recommendations that were given.
“They made clear that they evaluated the institution as a whole using the accreditation standards and it was very important for them that we understand that,” Scott said. “The recommendations that were made were based on the standards and whether we met those standards.”
The school will receive the final results after their meeting in June and he final decision is expected in July.
Overall, the accreditation team said that the campus “has an excellent learning environment, dynamic programs and vibrant community,” said Scott.
Some of the successes the accreditation team highlighted were distance education, the professional learning opportunities provided for teachers in the online environment, the school’s commitment to student success, many of the Pathway’s programs, and the welcoming and inclusive environment that’s been created on campus. Additionally, they commended the school’s many services that are offered to students such as the Child Development Center and the workforce grant that helps train students in the child development program.
“They were very impressed with the many things they saw here,” Scott said. “They made clear the need for the campus to become more familiar with the accreditation standards and that will be something we need to work on going forward.”
The team also provided several possible recommendations that will be formalized in the final report.
Most of the recommendations were directed toward shared governance and the need for effective communication between various constituency groups, including the academic senate, administrator, faculty, students and the board.
“(They) clearly conveyed the need for us to get along, work together for the good of the institution and to move forward,” Scott said. “They felt the need for systematic, transparent, participative processes and for us to use them effectively.”
However, the Academic Senate met the ACCJC’s recommendations a bit more combatively on Monday afternoon.
“They said very, very clearly we need to find ways to get along, to work together, and move forward, for the good of the institution,” stressed Scott. “That was their strongest message out of anything that they said.”
As she read off the list of possible recommendations, one of them struck a nerve with Faculty Association president Julie Kiotas. It stated that, “Evaluation materials need to be revised for those with responsibility for learning outcomes, including faculty (both part and full time), staff, and management”
“The faculty needs to be asked about the administrators. That’s not happening here, and it has never happened here,” Kiotas said. “And that is part of our real problem here. There’s no conversation. We have no say into what our administrators are doing.”
Scott agreed that this was a point that would need to be considered. As she finished her presentation, Melissa Michelson shared her concern with the report, as the whole concept of “getting along” and how it related to the recommendations seemed to throw her for a loop.
“What I’m hearing a lot is ‘not getting along’ and I don’t know what that means,” she said.
According to the possible accreditation recommendation report presented by Scott, aside from the governance recommendations, ACCJC believe that constituency groups need to follow, embrace and demonstrate the behavior outlined in the improved code of ethics. There is also a need for a comprehensive, coordinated professional development program for all personnel and the need for it to be through participatory governance and for evaluation materials to be revised for those with responsible for learning outcomes.
Following the presentations of the commendations and recommendations, Fleming and Scott presented a preliminary plan to address those recommendations for improvement from ACCJC.
“We had an extensive discussion on how to move forward on this,” said Fleming. “Moving on with that preliminary plan, we will also be discussing this with the board about how it is we’re going to move forward with the review of the ethics policies to implement the board education plan and the board self-evaluation, and then also so that the board is facilitating the discussions related to governance related issues.”
Interim Superintendent President Robert Miller ended the discussion with a plan on how to implement the changes necessary and address the reality of not being accredited.
On June 4, Miller, alongside Scott and the academic president, will visit the commission to present a united front about what it is that has been done on campus as of March 5up until June 4.
“Then we will thank them for the accreditation process, what it means to the institution, what it means to improve and basically be very positive about the whole thing,” Miller said. “Then we’ll say goodbye and they’ll make their decision.”