Long road: Compton Center accreditation still years away
This is the second in a two-part series on the status of the accreditation process for El Camino Community College Compton Center.
COMPTON—When Compton Community College had its accreditation revoked by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges in 2006, it became necessary to embark on a multi-year effort to become accredited again.
“Since this was the first time a community college lost accreditation, there was no procedure in place except the same process used for new and previously unaccredited colleges,” said Special Trustee Thomas Henry. “And our first few years were focused on just keeping the doors open. Now we have made significant progress to begin fulfilling the requirements for accreditation in a methodical way.
The effort was temporarily derailed when former Special Trustee Genethia Hudley-Hayes discovered that financial figures could not be backed up by the Compton Community College District.
While Compton Community College no longer exists, the CCCD remains a working entity and is responsible for the business conducted for the college.
Now the effort has regained its momentum, and the process is proceeding, albeit at a slower pace than many would like.
“Estimating a timeline is a complex process, influenced by the fact that there will be tasks that take longer than planned and others may not take as long as anticipated,” Thomas said. “The eligibility application process is based upon the ECC Compton Center having the appropriate documentation to meet the ACCJC standards. Once the documentation is ready, the application will be submitted by El Camino College. Therefore, any timeline must remain flexible.”
Five subcommittees have been formed in the eligibility categories for Organization (1,2,3,4,5,6), Instruction (7,8,9,10,11,), Faculty (12,13), Student Services (14,15, 16), Financial Integrity (17,18), Planning and Evaluation (19), Public Information (20), and Relations with the Accrediting Commission (21). The 21 Eligibility Criteria were reviewed for objective assessment of tasks, and ECC Compton Center’s readiness for eligibility.
The Accreditation Steering Committee and its five subcommittees have been working since November 2010 to assess and respond to their sections of the eligibility criteria. Subcommittee members developed three levels of assessment for each eligibility criteria: criteria met, criteria not met or criteria partially met. Currently, 16 criteria have been met; one criterion will be met when the eligibility application is filed; the Student Learning and Achievement criterion is partially met; and the Financial Resources, Financial Accountability, and Institutional Planning and Evaluation criteria have not yet been met.
The first step in the accreditation process is to establish the college’s eligibility for accreditation. Once all required elements have been met by the college and reports delineating the actions taken toward eligibility have been reviewed by the ACCJC, El Camino Community College District will submit an eligibility proposal.
In spring 2013 the ECC Compton Center will initiate contact with the chair of the ACCJC to review the final draft of the eligibility proposal and determine if it will be submitted to the ACCJC Eligibility Committee for review at its June 2014 meeting, or if submission will be postponed for six months for review by the Committee at its January 2015 meeting.
Once eligibility is granted by the ACCJC, El Camino College will prepare to apply for candidacy status of its center. El Camino College will complete and submit a Self Study Report documenting how the center meets the Standards of Accreditation and other ACCJC policies.
The ACCJC will establish timelines for El Camino College to prepare and submit a Self Study Report, which usually takes approximately 18 to 24 months.
Following acceptance of the Self Study Report, the ACCJC will send a team to visit El Camino College Compton Center to determine whether their standards, policies and eligibility criteria have been met. The ACCJC may grant the center candidacy or extension, deferral, denial or termination of candidacy.
If candidacy is granted, El Camino College’s Center must remain in compliance with the standards of accreditation throughout the entire candidacy period, which is at least two years. If denial occurs, the institution must start over and submit another application for eligibility to the ACCJC.
To complete candidacy and apply for initial accreditation El Camino College will apply for initial accreditation for its Compton Center. This process includes submission of a second Self Study Report using the Standards of Accreditation, the Self Study Manual, and other ACCJC policies and resources. The Self Study Report must be supported by evidence that the center continues to meet the eligibility requirements as well as the ACCJC’s standards and policies.
Once the report has been submitted to the ACCJC, a site team will visit the center to determine whether it has continually met all standards and policies of the ACCJC. After the review of the Self Study and site visit team reports, the ACCJC will either grant initial accreditation to approve a new college, extend the period of candidacy, or deny initial accreditation.
During spring and summer of 2012 the ECCCD will continue its expanded coordination of the assessment of Student Learning Outcome statements in the Student Services and Academic Affairs areas and compile documentation showing revisions to courses and programs that improve student learning based on SLO assessments.
The Compton Community College District will gather document evidence showing strong links between the budgeting and planning processes and implement fiscally sound policies and procedures in the business office.
The Compton district is required to make progress toward transferring the functions performed by ECC on behalf of the Compton Center to Compton offices and personnel.
If initial accreditation is granted, the institution begins a six-year cycle of periodic review for reaffirmation of accreditation that has several parts. These include a six-year comprehensive evaluation, a midterm evaluation in the third year, annual reports and annual fiscal reports to the ACCJC, and other progress and substantive change reports and visits as deemed necessary.
In fall 2012 or spring 2013 the ACCJC will inform El Camino College of the timeframe for the Self Study for candidacy. Candidacy includes a Self Study Report which usually takes two years to prepare for submission to the Accrediting Commission.
Once candidacy is granted, the ECC Compton Center must remain in compliance with the Standards of Accreditation throughout the entire candidacy period, which is granted for two years, but may not exceed four years.
It appears that accreditation is still several years off, but the process is underway.
“This is what all colleges have to do to become accredited,” said Henry. “This process was not drawn up especially for this situation. But we are getting closer to accreditation than we were two years ago. And we have an organized plan for making changes that have to be made going forward.”