The Northwest Commission on College and Universities (NWCCU), Shoreline Community College’s accrediting agency, has issued the College a warning because the College is out-of-compliance with accreditation standards related to planning and with assessment. Below are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about what this warning means. 

What does a warning mean? 

A warning is a formal sanction issued by NWCCU to indicate that Shoreline remains out-of-compliance with certain accreditation standards. These standards were cited as out-of-compliance in recommendations given to Shoreline after the Fall 2020 comprehensive accreditation self-study and visit. NWCCU now has given Shoreline two years (until October 2024) to take actions on the recommendations in order to come into compliance with the standards.  

Is the College still accredited? 

Yes!  Shoreline is still a member institution with the NWCCU and remains accredited while addressing this sanction. 

Shoreline has such a stellar reputation for strong programs. How could this happen? 

Shoreline continues to offer high-quality programs and Shoreline students continue to be successful in progressing to the workplace and into four-year degrees. Shoreline just must provide additional and systematic evidence that demonstrates program quality and a continuous improvement cycle. The question is not whether Shoreline has quality programs, but how the College is using data to measure the learning in our programs, assess our efforts, and make improvements to our programs and the College as a whole. We look forward to sharing this evidence with NWCCU and with the community on our Accreditation webpage

How serious is this? 

Shoreline is taking this warning very seriously; faculty, staff, and administrators have come together to build the knowledge and skills needed to provide evidence of program quality, systematic planning, and continuous improvement. NWCCU’s action has led to a new era for Shoreline in the way we use data to inform our work. 

The good news is that the College has been building tools and processes related to using data for planning, assessment, and improvement for many years. The College’s ability to meet the standards has been hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of a new statewide data system, called ctcLink. While we are taking the warning seriously, we are completely confident that we will come into compliance by October 2024. 

You mentioned standards Shoreline is not meeting – what are those? 

The US Department of Education commissions regional agencies to evaluate colleges and universities based on a set of standards.  Our regional accreditors, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), establish those standards. The two recommendations Shoreline needs to address to come into compliance are: 

  • “Provide evidence of a systematic method for collecting, storing, accessing, using and sharing data for the purposes of on-going and systematic evaluation, planning, resource allocation and informing decision-making toward improving institutional effectiveness and achieving mission fulfillment. (Standards 1.B.1, 1.B.2)” 
  • “Engage in a systematic assessment process for all college programs, including transfer degree programs, through the use of programmatic and institutional outcomes to gather data that will be used for academic learning support, program planning, and resource allocation. (Standards 1.C.5, 1.C.6, 1.C.7)” 

What is the College doing to come into compliance? 

Shoreline has made two significant enhancements of existing processes to address the two recommendations: 

  • While the College has engaged in strategic and operational planning for many years, an annual calendar and process has been created in which all areas of the College review data, build goals and plans, and identify resources needs. Every fall quarter, all areas (service and instructional) will review key data points and metrics and submit an area review, along with any resource/budget requests, in winter quarter. This review process will be transparent and inclusive, with employees in each area invited to participate. The data-informed reviews will inform budget development in spring quarter. This cycle began in 2022-2023 using an accelerated calendar and will continue as an ongoing planning practice following a  multi-year calendar that has been created. 
  • Shoreline needs to provide direct evidence that students are gaining the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. This type of data collection and reflection is called learning outcomes assessment, and also informs instructional planning and ongoing improvement. Shoreline has been working for over five years building tools, resources, and training for faculty to assess learning outcomes in individual courses (Course Learning Outcomes), entire programs (Program Learning Outcomes), and across the entire student body (Shoreline Student Learning Outcomes).  

Learning outcomes assessment now will occur on an annual cycle with each department assessing outcomes of core courses, each academic program assessing program outcomes, and the faculty at large assessing college-wide outcomes. So far, over 100 Shoreline faculty have participated in learning outcomes assessment in some form as assessment has become a regular and ongoing practice for Shoreline instructors. 

Also, see recent campus announcements related to Accreditation on Day At a Glance. 

Questions or comments? 

Contact the College’s Accreditation Liaison Officer, Ann Garnsey-Harter, .  

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