Accreditation is a process whereby colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning are assessed against established standards and are judged to have met thoses standards
The institutional accreditation process is conducted by accrediting agencies, some of which are regional, while others have an international reach. These are private organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to operate as reliable authorities as to the quality of education or training provided by institutions of higher education. The H. Lavity Stoutt Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
HLSCC was accredited in 2015, and as a newly accredited institution had to seek reaffirmation of its accreditation within 5 years. Otherwise, the College would be on an 8-year cycle, with a Mid-Point Peer Review (MPPR).
|Ongoing:||Annual Institutional Update: Every year HLSCC submits an Annual Institutional Update which reports on the health of the organization through key data indicators, as well as compliance and areas of institutional change which may require MSCHE follow-up.
Other monitoring activities include recommendation responses, follow-reports and visits, and supplemental information reports (SIR).
|Year 4:||Mid-Point Peer Review: The Commission will conduct a Mid-Point Peer Review (MPPR) midway through the accreditation review cycle. Included in this review are accumulated financial data, student achievement data, and responses to Commission recommendations (if requested) submitted by the institution through a series of Annual Institutional Updates. (AIU).|
|Year 8:||Self-Study Evaluation and On-site Evaluation Visit: This is a comprehensive review in the eight-year accreditation review cycle. During the self-study process, the College documents its compliance with MSCHE standards of accreditation, requirements of affiliation, policies and procedures, and federal compliance requirements. At the end of the review process, a written Self-Study Report of about 100 pages (single spaced) and an Evidence Inventory which are reviewed by a team of peer evaluators. The information is verified at the On-Site Evaluation Visit through visits with groups and individual stakeholders and governance leaders.|
HLSCC is presently in the process of seeking reaffirmation of its accreditation. The Mid-Point Peer Review (MPPR) is scheduled for 2024, and the next Self-Study Review and Site Visit will take place in 2028.
There are two main types of accreditation in higher education:
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) seeks to ensure that institutions are reevaluated and monitored on a regular and consistent basis. As such a series of accreditation review activities are continuously being implemented.
The Self-Study Evaluation is a comprehensive self-evaluation conducted generally every eight years to determine whether an institution continues to meet the requirements of affiliation and standards of accreditation. The process includes a peer review and verification of federal compliance documentation, culminating with an onsite visit by a peer review team.
Prior to the site evaluation visit, the college prepares a Self-Study Report describing how it meets the fifteen requirements of affiliation and seven standards of accreditation. The report is constrained to 100 pages single spaced, and 200 pages double-spaced.
To demonstrate or further support the claims made in the Self-Study Report, the college uploads supporting documents to an online Evidence Inventory. Examples of evidence might include:
Both the Self-Study Report and Evidence Inventory are submitted fully online through the MSCHE Institutional Portal at least six weeks prior to the site visit.
HLSCC is accredited by a US accrediting agency, but it is accordingly designated as an international institution. Accordingly, it is not entirely subject to the federal regulations of US institutions. However, the College is still required to respond to various areas of compliance. These include:
This information takes place in conjunction with the Self-Study Evaluation and Site Visit, and supporting documentation is to be submitted in Standard Two as part of the Self-Study Report.
MSCHE may ask institutions to provide additional supporting information on the Verification of Federal Compliance during the Site Visit or Virtual Assessment.
The Self-Study Evaluation includes a site visit or virtual assessment by a team of peer reviewers. The site visit team will consist of generally six reviewers, who will meet with college leaders, faculty, staff, and students.
The purpose of the Site Visit is for a team of peer reviewers to verify the claims made in the Self-Study Report, explore how well the Evidence Inventory aligns with information gained through face-to-face meetings on campus, and ask for elaboration or clarification in cases where reviewers think additional information is needed.
A typical site visit includes:
Reviewers are faculty and administrators at peer institutions which are also accredited by MSCHE. Their role is to review the Self-Study Report, confirm that information and evidence presented in the Self-Study report accurately reflect the institution, and request additional information or evidence if needed to support the argument.
After the site visit, reviewers submit a report of their visit to the MSCHE, which becomes an additional source of evidence (along with the Self-Study Report and Verification of Compliance) for MSCHE to use in determining the college’s accreditation status.
This is a mechanism for ongoing monitoring used by MSCHE for members institutions. In compliance, the College submits and verifies key data indicators and upload required documents on an annual basis. This information services multiples purposes:
This is a review of five years of accumulated financial data, student achievement data and responses to Commission recommendations (if requested) submitted by the College through a series of AIU. The review is conducted midway through the accreditation review cycle for accredited institutions. The purpose of the review is to conduct an analysis of key data indicators for student achievement, viability and capacity, and financial health to confirm if there are any concerns related to the institution’s ability to continue to meet MSCHE standards for accreditation, requirements of affiliation, and policies and procedures. The information is compiled by MSCHE and the college does not need to provide a written report or any additional materials for the MPPR.
The MPPR does not include an onsite visit unless requested by the review team.
The Vice President of Operations coordinates institutional accreditation review processes. The VP serves as the College’s Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO) with MSCHE.
College accreditation is a community effort, coordinated by the Vice President of Operations. The preparation process starts with participation in a Self-Study Institute (SSI) approximately two years prior to the On-Site Evaluation Visit. During the two years leading up to the On-Site Evaluation, faculty, staff and students across the College meet to review the activities of the College over the assessment period and compile documentation demonstrating ways in which the College meets each of the MSCHE Criteria for Accreditation. The review includes group meetings, open forum and individual meetings.
The compiled documentation is then assembled to form the Self-Study Report, inclusive of the Verification of Compliance and the Evidence Inventory. Opportunity was given for feedback throughout the process and working groups were able to submit suggestions and amendments which were incorporated into the report.
In addition to their contributions to the Self-Study Report, Evidence Inventory and Verification of Compliance, many college leaders, faculty, staff and students will have the opportunity to meet with peer reviewers during the site visit/virtual assessment. Open sessions are typically held with faculty, staff and student groups and members of the peer review team.
The College is presently engaged in the Self-Study Evaluation process and is pending a virtual assessment in December. The next Self-Study Evaluation and Site Visit is scheduled for the 2028 academic year.
The next Self-Study Evaluation and Site Visit/Virtual Assessment is scheduled for 2028. Between now and then the College through the Vice President of Operations will provide MSCHE with updates on College information on an annual basis through the Annual Institutional Update (AIU).
Four years from the current Self-Study Evaluation (2024), the Mid-Point Peer Review will be conducted. This is a review of five years of accumulated financial data, student achievement data and responses to Commission recommendations (if requested) submitted by the College through a series of AIU. The review is conducted midway through the accreditation review cycle for accredited institutions. The purpose of the review is to conduct an analysis of key data indicators for student achievement, viability and capacity, and financial health to confirm if there are any concerns related to the institution’s ability to continue to meet MSCHE standards for accreditation, requirements of affiliation, and policies and procedures. The information is compiled by MSCHE and the college does not need to provide a written report or any additional materials for the MPPR.
Approximately two years before the commencement of the scheduled Self-Study Evaluation (2026), the College will participate in a MSCHE held Self-Study Institute, which will initiate the Self-Study Evaluation process.
An institution’s accreditation status is determined by MSCHE based on their review of the Self-Study Report, the Site Visit/Virtual Assessment and any additional information which the College might choose to submit in response to the site visit/assessment report.
Peer evaluators review the Self-Study Report and supporting Evidence prior to the On-site Evaluation/Virtual Assessment. During the On-Site Evaluation the peer evaluators clarify the information provided in the Self-Study Report and verify evidence submitted by the institution by interviewing college stakeholders. At the end of the visit/assessment process, the peer evaluators prepare a site visit report and submit it the MSCHE, along with their recommendations. MSCHE, through its multi-level decision-making process, will analyze all of the accreditation material and any other appropriate and substantiated information available to it to make the final decision about the reaffirmation of accreditation.