Accreditation Standards and Requirements

Accreditation Standards and Requirements

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) is the authority on educational quality and institutional effectiveness of higher education institutions Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington and in British Columbia, Canada. The Commission establishes accreditation criteria and evaluation procedures that are used to review institutions of higher education in the region.

The Commission helps institutions to promote student achievement, learning, and success; close equity gaps and enhance educational quality and institutional effectiveness; facilitate analytical self-assessment and critical peer review; ensure accountability and transparency; and advance research and engagement (Accreditation Handbook, page 5).

The Commission's Accreditation Handbook, January 2020 helps institutions understand expectations. There are two Standards.

Standard One: Student Success and Institutional Mission and Effectiveness. The institution articulates its commitment to student success, primarily measured through student learning and achievement, for all students, with a focus on equity and closure of achievement gaps, and establishes a mission statement, acceptable thresholds, and benchmarks for effectiveness with meaningful indicators. The institution’s programs are consistent with its mission and culminate in identified student outcomes leading to degrees, certificates, credentials, employment, or transfer to other higher education institutions or programs. Programs are systematically assessed using meaningful indicators to assure currency, improve teaching and learning strategies, and achieve stated student learning outcomes for all students, including underrepresented students and first-generation college students.

Standard Two: Governance, Resources, and Capacity. The institution articulates its commitment to a structure of governance that is inclusive in its planning and decision-making. Through its planning, operational activities, and allocation of resources, the institution demonstrates a commitment to student learning and achievement in an environment respectful of meaningful discourse.

Here is a link directly to the Standards and Eligibility RequirementsThe rubrics to evaluate how well institutions are meeting Standard 1 is a must-read resource, and the focus of the Lane's work in 2020/2021. See Accreditation Handbook, pages 58-69. 

If you have questions, contact us.

“Regional Accreditation” vs "Institutional Accreditation"

In a recent move by the US Department of Education, the term “regional accreditation” is no longer valid. Why? Region-specific accreditors, such as the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, accredit institutions outside of their region, so the US DOE is requiring all “regional accreditors” to stop using the term. NWCCU will likely adopt the terminology “institutional accreditation.” The new ruling was effective July 1, 2020, but the US Department of Education is allowing one year to come into compliance. By July 2021, these accrediting agencies will determine how to distinguish their work from other accrediting bodies.

How does this impact Lane? We use the term "institutional accreditation" instead.

NWCCU Equity Resource Library

Our institutional accreditor, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has created a website with over 1,000 webinars, videos, papers, toolkits, data tools, self-assessments, guides, etc. These resources were made available to support higher education institutions to identify and close student achievement equity gaps, a NWCCU mandate. Check it out at: Equity Resource Library