On Accreditation + Recreation
September 2018. You may want to mark that date on your Google calendar. October 2018 will see team members from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) arrive on campus to complete their comprehensive site visit. They will be assessing whether the College meets accreditation standards and based on that assessment, making a recommendation to ACCJC on the College’s accreditation status. September 2018 will be the culmination of an intensive assessment process for Kapi‘olani CC students, staff and faculty — a process that began in earnest in the week of September 12, 2016.
Accreditation is a quality assurance process for educational institutions. It shows the public that a school maintains standards set by an accrediting agency. Our accrediting agency, ACCJC, requires that the College complete a self evaluation report prior to being visited by an evaluation team made up of mostly administrators and faculty from peer colleges from our region—California and the Pacific Islands, such as Guam and American Samoa. The purpose of the visit is to verify our self assessment. The United States is the only country where peer institutions set and monitor higher education standards. In other nations, the government sets and regulates the standards. You can check out our 2012 Self Evaluation Accreditation Report and subsequent reports on our website.
It may seem like accreditation has no importance to a student, but that could not be further from the truth. If Kapi‘olani Community College were not accredited, our students would not be able to apply for federal financial aid. Obtaining an accredited degree is absolutely essential if students hope to garner the career success they deserve. Without accreditation, employers cannot know whether a graduate’s diploma is from a legitimate institution or whether it is from a diploma mill — a company that offers degrees in exchange for money and little academic work. Academic institutions are equally skeptical of degrees from non-accredited schools, so it can be extremely difficult to transfer credits from a non-accredited institution to an accredited one.
To help the campuses prepare for the self study process and compilation of the report to ACCJC, the UH Community Colleges have secured the services of Bob Pacheco, Assessment Chair of the Research and Planning Group and an educational evaluator. Dr. Pacheco’s approach to the self study differs greatly from our previous processes. His message to us: use the process to determine what we would like KCC to look like in three years. Identify the areas that we do well. Identify the areas that need attention and take action now, before the accreditors come. Leeward CC followed Dr. Pacheco’s advice in 2012, and based on Leeward’s very successful accreditation report, the approach works.
Dr. Pacheco spent Tuesday, September 13, with faculty and staff who are interested in participating in the preparation of our accreditation self study. The workshop began with a review of what worked and what didn’t work in the self study process for the 2012 accreditation visit.
Joanne Whitaker and Sunny Pai are serving as the co-chairs for the self study. They’ve already made significant changes in the formulation of the self study team: writers, investigators and subject matter experts will be doing the heavy lifting on the report. Many of them were present at the workshop.
This cross-disciplinary and cross-functional approach will be the key to creating a quality report with meaningful dialog on the actions that need to be taken and successful implementation of the planned actions, prior to September 2018.
One of the areas of concern for the College will be the advances that we make in assessing our student learning outcomes and our service area outcomes. Again, Bob Pacheco was able to provide us with guidance: worry less about assessing every outcome in every course and focus more on being able to demonstrate improvement in courses, programs and services as a result of the outcomes assessment.
Of course, the workshop included breaks, which sent many participants to their phones!
Because not everyone could be at the presentation, we asked CELTT to tape the workshop. And even the videographer reached for his phone during breaks.
The day-long workshop included many hands-on activities that provided participants with opportunities for serious study.
By the end of the day, we all felt ready to rock and roll for accreditation. On the suggestion of Brian Furuto, it was a full-on group cheer: 1…2…3…KCC!
After the intense conversations and plans for September 2018, it was time to enjoy each other’s company at our second Lauhala Saturday on September 24, 2016. What a great day!
Nāwa‘a BBQed hot dogs and hamburgers. Everyone contributed food and drinks and their good company.
Twenty-two faculty and staff spent the hours together, with the support of one off-duty security officer and one on-duty security officer, who struck a Usain Bolt pose.
In and around Vince Bolong’s security cart were the five Susan’s:
We have been trying to think of what would be the appropriate collective noun for a group of Susan’s: a swig of Susan’s?
We’ll be gathering for the third Lauhala Saturday on Friday, December 2, 2016, starting at 4:30 pm. Please mark that on your calendars, too.