QEP FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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- What is SACS?
- The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is the recognized regional accrediting body in the eleven U.S. Southern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia) and in Latin America for those institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master's or doctoral degrees. The Commission on Colleges is the representative body of the College Delegate Assembly and is charged with carrying out the accreditation process.
- What is accreditation?
- Accreditation is intended to assure constituents and the public of the quality and integrity of higher education institutions and programs and to help those institutions and programs improve. These outcomes are achieved through rigorous internal and external review process during which the institution is evaluated against a common set of standards.
When accreditation is awarded to an institution of higher education by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a regional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education, it means that the institution has (1) a mission appropriate to higher education, (2) resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain its mission, (3) clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers, and (4) that it is successful in achieving its stated objectives.
Accreditation is a statement of the institution's continuing commitment to integrity and its capacity to provide effective programs and services based on agreed-upon accreditation standards.
- What are the SACS requirements?
- The SACS requirements are defined in the document titled Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement. This document lists the principles and standards that must be met in order to be in full compliance with SACS and receive reaffirmation of accreditation. Access to the list of principles and standards can be found here.
- How is this SACS reaffirmation different from previous self-studies?
- In 2003 when Augusta Tech was last reviewed, SACS external reviewers visited the campus and worked with the College's SACS team. All college employees participated in multiple individual committees to prepare for the SACS accreditation process..
Our next reaffirmation of accreditation will be different in the following ways:
The College will submit two major reports -- a Compliance Certification to be submitted first and a Quality Enhancement Plan to be submitted several months later. The QEP is a focused report that outlines a major initiative to improve student learning.
There will only be one on-site visit which will occur in October / November 2013. Between six and eight reviewers will be on campus for three days. They will review any areas of concern raised by the off-site team. Their chief purpose, however, is to talk to faculty, staff, and students about the QEP. The SACS team will write a report about the College compliance with all of the SACS Commission on Colleges reaffirmation criteria.
SACS requires that the College provide a clear-cut mission and goals, ways to measure the outcomes of those goals, and proof that those goals are being continued into the future -- all focused on the primary desired outcome of quality education for the student.
- How can I be involved in Augusta Tech's reaffirmation process?
- What does Augusta Tech have to do for SACS?
- The College must prepare a report that shows compliance with the Principles of Accreditation. This report is due March 15, 2013. In addition, the College must prepare a Quality Enhancement Plan for submission in August / September 2013.
- I've still got questions. How do I ask questions about SACS?
- What is the purpose of QEP?
- The QEP is a five-year plan to implement institutional improvement which addresses one or more issues contributing to quality enhancement of student learning.
- When do these QEP initiatives begin?
- If the College plan for the QEP is approved, the plan should begin after the on-site visit. The SACS on-site visit will be in October / November 2013.
- What will the Off-Site Committee do?
- The Off-Site Peer Review Committee, composed of a chair and normally eight to ten evaluators, meets in Atlanta, Georgia, to review the Compliance Certifications of a group of institutions to determine whether each institution is in compliance with all Core Requirements (except Core Requirement 2.12), Comprehensive Standards, and Federal Requirements. The group of institutions evaluated, called a cluster, normally will consist of no more than four institutions similar in governance and degrees offered. At the conclusion of the review, the Off-Site Peer Review Committee will prepare a separate report for each institution recording and explaining its decisions regarding compliance. The report is forwarded to the respective institution's On-Site Review Committee which makes its final determination on compliance.
- What will the On-Site Committee do when it comes to the College?
- Following review by the Off-Site Committee, an On-Site Review Committee of peers will conduct a focused evaluation at the campus to finalize issues of compliance with the Core Requirements, Comprehensive Standards, and Federal Requirements; provide consultation regarding the issues addressed in the QEP; and evaluate the acceptability of the QEP. At the conclusion of its visit, the On-Site Review Committee will prepare the Report of the Reaffirmation Committee, a written report of its findings noting areas of noncompliance, including the acceptability of the QEP. The Report of the Reaffirmation Committee, along with the institution's response to areas of non-compliance, will be forwarded to the Commission for review and action.
- What happens after the On-Site Committee leaves the College?
- The On-Site Committee submits its report to the Commission. The institution prepares a response to the On-Site Committee's report and submits it to the Commission. The Commission reviews the findings included in the report of the On-Site Committee and the institution's response and takes action on the institution's reaffirmation.
- Is it unusual for a college to receive recommendations?
- No. In fact, recommendations are common.
The Commission staff communicates to the institution the findings of the report prepared by the Off-Site Review Committee. The institution may choose to submit a Focused Report in response to the Off-Site Committee's findings (due six weeks before the on-site visit). The On-Site Committee receives a written copy of the Off-Site Committee's report and the institution's Focused Report, if one is submitted.
- Do recommendations threaten accreditation?
- Yes, they will if the institution does not take appropriate and acceptable action to come into compliance with the criteria. The College has five months after the visit to respond.
- What happens to the college's response to the recommendations?
- The Commission's Compliance and Reports (C&R) Committee will receive and review the report of the On-Site Review Committee, the response of the institution to the committee's report, the institution's Compliance Certification, and its Quality Enhancement Plan. The full Commission will receive the C&R Committee report and will make a decision regarding the reaffirmation of the institutions' accreditation and any follow-up activities that it requires of the institution. The Commission makes decisions regarding accreditation status in June 2014.
- What options does the Commission on Colleges have in regard to accreditation?
- The Commission on Colleges (COC) can reaffirm an institution's accreditation with or without requiring additional follow-up reports. It can grant reaffirmation but place an institution on Notice for a maximum of a year or defer reaffirmation until the next COC meeting while awaiting compliance reports. The COC can deny reaffirmation and place a college on either Warning or Probation for up to two years. Lastly, the COC can deny an institution reaffirmation and remove it from membership in the Commission on Colleges. The status of an institution's accreditation becomes public knowledge when accreditation actions are read in open session at the College Delegate Assembly and published in the Proceedings of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
- When will the COC announce a decision about the accreditation status of the College?
- The Commission on Colleges will make a decision about the accreditation status of Augusta Technical College at its June 2014 meeting and announce its findings at the College Delegate Assembly.