2016-17 NWCCU Evaluation FAQ
What is accreditation?
A voluntary process where colleges open their doors to colleagues from other members in the accreditation region to be evaluated on a set of agreed on standards that recognizes performance, integrity, quality, and mission fulfillment. Accreditation is also an opportunity to engage in self study to see if we are living up to our mission and values. As a result of accreditation, Lane is eligible to offer financial aid, receive grants, and issue certificates and degrees that are transferable and readily accepted in the workplace.
Who does the accrediting?
The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, or NWCCU, is the accrediting organization that serves the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, Utah, Nevada and Montana. For more information see the NWCCU website. NWCCU has a FAQ, glossary, and numerous publications available on its website. As is NWCCU policy, none of the evaluators will be from the state of Oregon.
What does NWCCU look for?
In general, NWCCU wants to see if we are doing what we say we are doing: planning, taking action, and assessing those actions. In particular, it is concerned with standards, eligibility requirements, and core themes.
What are standards?
The five standards for accreditation are interconnected and "build on each other in a recursive cycle of continuous improvement" (NWCCU). Essentially, they describe the quality and effectiveness expected of a learning institution.
Each of the five standards is divided into parts with detailed descriptions. The names of the standards are:
- Mission and Core Themes
- Resources and Capacity
- Institutional Planning
- Effectiveness and Improvement
- Mission Fulfillment, Adaptation, and Sustainability
You can read the details of the five standards at www.nwccu.org by selecting "standards" in the left hand column.
What are eligibility requirements?
Eligibility requirements are the characteristics of an institution and the conditions required by the Commission for consideration as a Candidate for Accreditation, for initial accreditation, and for continued membership. In other words, these are the minimum requirements to be an accredited institution. There are 24 eligibility requirements.
What are core themes?
Core themes manifest essential elements of the school's mission. In other words, core themes reflect the central identity of the institution and are different from school to school. Lane's core themes are: Academic transfer, career technical and workforce development, foundational skills development, and lifelong learning.
How often is Lane evaluated?
Colleges maintain accreditation through continuous adherence to accreditation criteria. They follow a seven-year cycle during which institutional review is continuous. These reviews include an Annual Report, a Year One Report, a Mid-Cycle Report in the third year, and a Year Seven comprehensive institutional self-study and evaluation committee peer review visit.
Where are we now?
During 2016-17 we are working on our Mid-Cycle Evaluation.
When did Lane have its seven-year comprehensive review?
In 2014. For the year seven comprehensive evaluation, peer evaluators from other accredited institutions studied the college's Year Seven Comprehensive Self-Evaluation Report, conducted an on-site evaluation with respect to all Standards and Eligibility Requirements, and prepared a Year Seven Peer-Evaluation Report. In this way, our reflection on effectiveness and improvement was affirmed by our peers' observations and meetings with managers, faculty, and students.
Where can I find Lane's accreditation reports?
You can view our reports on the Accreditation website.
What are the outcomes of these self-studies?
There are a number of outcomes of accreditation self-evaluations. First, the process of evaluation allows for a great deal of reflection and thought about planning, assessment, and actions. This process allows us to take a deep and comprehensive look at how we do things and how we might improve with the ultimate goal of mission fulfillment. Second, there is the artifact of the self-evaluation report. It provides a snap shot of our performance at a given moment in time that can be used to make comparisons with the next time we produce such a report. Finally, there is the report by NWCCU as advised by the evaluators. They first make a determination of whether the college will be accredited or not. In addition, NWCCU can issue compliments, commendations, concerns, and recommendations. Compliments are praise for a practice or achievement. Commendations are a higher order praise or "laudatory statement" that reflects a recognized strength of the school. A concern is the negative corollary to a compliment. It is an area that the school needs to work on. A recommendation is a serious breach of compliance in an area that requires significant attention by the institution.