Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP)
In the United States, colleges and universities voluntarily seek accreditation from nongovernmental bodies. There are two types of educational accreditation: institutional and specialized. The Higher Learning Commission conducts institutional accreditation. The Commission has developed resources for individuals to better understand the role of accreditation in U.S. higher education.
Institutional accreditation is provided by regional and national associations of schools and colleges. There are six regional associations, each named after the region in which it operates (Middle States, New England, North Central, Northwest, Southern, Western). The regional associations are independent of one another, but they cooperate extensively and acknowledge one another''s accreditation. Several national associations focus on particular kinds of institutions (for example, trade and technical colleges, and religious colleges and universities). An institutional accrediting agency evaluates an entire educational organization in terms of its mission and the agency's standards or criteria.
In 2007, PCC was accepted into the Higher Learning Commission's Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), a voluntary alternative process for maintaining accreditation by infusing the principles, practices and benefits of continual improvement into the College's culture. To be accredited through AQIP an institution must maintain three action projects at all times, prepare a systems portfolio to provide explanation of processes and results from the institution, and participate in site visits. Pratt CC has completed four actions projects, current projects address student-athlete academic success, student career exploration, and communication systems. The system portfolio is submitted to the higher learning commission three years after being accepted into AQIP, scheduled to be submitted in June 2011 the portfolio is available below for view by interested parties. Future portfolios will be maintained and published every four years.
The Revised AQIP Pathway Categories (now six in number) provide a framework that institutions can use to examine their key processes and allow institutions to analyze, understand, and explore opportunities for improvement. The use of the categories is fundamental to the development of the institution’s Systems Portfolio.
Category One: Helping Students Learn
focuses on the design, deployment, and effectiveness of teaching-learning processes (and on the processes required to support them) that underlie the institution’s credit and non-credit programs and courses.
Category Two: Meeting Student and Other Key Stakeholder Needs
addresses the key processes (separate from instructional programs and internal support services) through which the institution serves its external stakeholders in support of its mission.
Category Three: Valuing Employees
explores the institution’s commitment to the hiring, development, and evaluation of faculty, staff, and administrators.
Category Four: Planning and Leading
focuses on how the institution achieves its mission and lives its vision through direction setting, goal development, strategic actions, threat mitigation, and capitalizing on opportunities.
Category Five: Knowledge Management and Resource Stewardship
addresses management of the fiscal, physical, technological, and information infrastructures designed to provide an environment in which learning can thrive.
Category Six: Quality Overview
focuses on the Continuous Quality Improvement culture and infrastructure of the institution. This category gives the institution a chance to reflect on all its quality improvement initiatives, how they are integrated, and how they contribute to improvement of the institution.
After the portfolio is reviewed by a collection of peer-reviewers, PCC receives feedback through the Systems Appraisal. This feedback provides a number of recommendations, not only for improvement, but also as a means to let an institution know what areas ought to be considered strengths. Before reading the Appraisal, it is important to know the point of view of the authors. The only information provided to the panel of seven peer reviewers comes through the system portfolio (included above), some comments are made due to a lack of experience in writing a system portfolio, while others are made to create an opportunity for improvement. Each item (1P1, 9R3) is followed by an SS, S, O or OO, these are a Significant Strength, an institutional Strength, Opportunity for improvement, or an Outstanding improvement Opportunity. It is uncommon for an institution to participate in this process without receiving multiple OOs for the simple sake that the questioned item might not currently be an emphasis or need of the institution, and that is okay under the AQIP process. While PCC has a few OOs over the next few years we will be making an effort to downgrade the OO ratings to simply an O rating.
If you have any questions on PCC's experience in the AQIP process, contact David Schmidt at 620-450-2188 firstname.lastname@example.org