ACCREDITATION STATUS: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

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, agarnsey@shoreline.edu .  

Day of Learning- Update

Greeting Shoreline Community,

The Day of Learning (DOL) marks a unique opportunity for the College to connect and learn together. We have numerous reasons to connect and continue building community with the distance we have experienced over the past few years. With the recent letter from our accrediting commission (NWCCU), we also have a very compelling reason to focus our collective learning on strategic planning and the accreditation process. In the spirit of transparency and collaboration, all members of our community are impacted by the actions we will take to address the recommendations the NWCCU put forward to be addressed. As such, working alongside one another to advance the efforts of our College is advantageous for every member of our vibrant community.

Through many meetings and at the recommendation of Melanie Dixon, the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Accessibility (DEIA), and with the support of Executive Team, we are updating the theme of Day of Learning to be more inclusive of our strategic plan initiatives as they align with accreditation training and implementation. This shift in theme allows us to refocus portions of the day on much-needed topics around accreditation requirements, accreditation training, and implementation, and strategic enrollment management activities. It is a priority that the campus community is knowledgeable on these topics and can support the work to be done. A college-wide learning event is the perfect setting to address these time-sensitive topics.

This does not mean shifting the focus away from DEIA, but rather centering it at the heart of our planning processes and, thus, making DEIA the highest priority of the institution. Our strategic planning and accreditation improvements will enable us to be more accountable to our DEIA goals. Our community will have the rare opportunity to anchor all college efforts in DEIA to close obligation gaps for our more-than-worthy students and to be responsive to the accreditation recommendations. Addressing inequities at the system level will allow Shoreline to step back into the leadership role of DEIA for our system to enhance the lives of all students.

We will be working with the Day of Learning Committee to revisit the call for proposals to make a slight pivot, while honoring the intent of the submissions.

Please stay tuned for more information.

Thank you for your support and participation as we make this event meaningful for our employees as well as addressing institutional priorities.

Sincerely,

President Jack Kahn

Accreditation: Accelerated Timeline for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Hello Shoreline Faculty,

As President Kahn shared in an email on March 1 (see below), NWCCU, our accrediting agency, has issued a warning because Shoreline has not made adequate progress in addressing two recommendations (i.e., areas in which the College is out of compliance) from their comprehensive site visit in 2020. One of these recommendations focuses on learning outcomes assessment, and our efforts in this area will also support progress related to the other recommendation: planning and use of data. We must show significant progress on both recommendations by our next comprehensive site visit on October 5-6, 2023, although our progress report is due earlier on August 24.

Recently, Dr. Ed Harri, our institutional liaison at NWCCU, recommended accelerating our work around the Shoreline Student Learning Outcomes (SSLOs) and Transfer Program Outcomes (TPOs), and beginning the assessment cycle in Spring 2023. To do that, we will need provisional approval (i.e., approval for the purpose of assessment) of the outcomes before the end of Winter 2023; all outcomes will continue to be revised for final approval following input from faculty during Spring 2023.


SSLOs Assessment

Six teams have been developing assessable outcomes for the following categories:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Equity & Social Justice
  • Information Literacy
  • Non-Written Communication* (official name pending)
  • Quantitative & Symbolic Reasoning
  • Written Communication

Actions to take by August 24

  • Assess two SSLOs: “Critical Thinking” and “Equity & Social Justice”
  • Review all the SSLOs and approve preliminary versions to post on our website


TPOs Assessment

An additional team has been developing learning outcomes for our transfer degrees (Associate of Arts or AA-DTA and Associate of Science or AS-T), aligned with the distribution requirements for the AA-DTA and core science requirements for the AS-T.

Actions to take by August 24

  • Assess two TPOs
  • Review and approve all TPOs

Provisional Approval Process

The Learning Outcomes Assessment Committee has proposed the following process for provisional approval of the two SSLOs as well as all TPOs.

  • March 13: Learning Outcomes Assessment Committee – Final Review 
  • March 14: Transfer Program Outcomes Team – Final Review
  • March 14: Shoreline Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Committee – Final Review 
  • March 16: Curriculum Committee – Review
  • March 17: VP-SLES Phillip King – Provisional Approval

The process described above includes a substantial and representative group of faculty members (click here for an overview of all teams). The final approval of the SSLOs and TPOs will include Faculty Senate Council in Spring 2023.  Please note that this extra effort will require an all-hands-on-deck approach. As such, if part-time faculty have an interest in participating, we will be able to compensate them for their participation.

Looking Ahead

In Spring 2023, faculty will be asked to identify existing assignments that assess the selected outcomes. More details about this process will be shared in a follow-up email.

Please feel free to direct any questions to Romina Plozza (rplozza@shoreline.edu) or Bayta Maring (bmaring@shoreline.edu).

Sincerely,

Phillip J. King, Ed.D. Vice President for Student Learning, Equity, and Success

Accreditation Finding Q & A Thursday, March 2, 4-5 pm

Dear Campus Community, 
 

This is an update since our last announcements regarding the College’s accreditation with the Northwest Commission on Colleges & Universities (NWCCU).  

We have received and posted an official letter from the NWCCU on the College’s public Accreditation page (see specifically 2023 Ad Hoc Response from NWCCU). The College is now on warning as a result of this letter. 

Based on the October 2022 accreditation site visit, the College was found still to be out-of-compliance with accreditation standards in two areas: 
 

·         Planning and use of data: Recommendation 1 from Fall 2020: Mission Fulfillment and Sustainability – “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.” (2020 Standard(s) 1.B.1; 1.B.2) 

·         Assessment of student learning outcomes: Recommendation 1 from Fall 2022 Ad Hoc Report with Visit – “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 and learning support program planning and resource allocation.” (Standards 1.C.5, 1.C.6, 1.C.7) 

While the accreditation language used by the NWCCU is a “recommendation,” the College must address and resolve these two out-of-compliance recommendations by October 2024 or the College will be put on probation. 

And, we need to demonstrate significant progress toward compliance by our next accreditation site visit on October 5-6, 2023 (mark your calendar). The accreditation report prior to that visit is due August 24, 2023 so we have less than 6 months to enact significant accreditation work.  

We also need to demonstrate progress on two additional recommendations, in which we are substantially in compliance but in need of improvement: 

·         Student achievement and use of data: Recommendation 3 from Fall 2020: Mission Fulfillment and Sustainability – “Use disaggregated student achievement data including persistence, completion, retention, and post-graduate success for continuous improvement to inform planning, decision making and allocation of resources. Performance on these indicators should be widely published and continually used to promote student achievement, improve student learning, and close equity gaps.” (2020 Standard(s) 1.D.2;1.D.3;1.D.4) 

·         Financial resources and budget processes: Recommendation 5 from Fall 2020: Mission Fulfillment and Sustainability – “Manage financial resources transparently by defining, developing and sharing financial processes, policies, and budget development decisions, including ongoing budget management and annual financial statements. Stakeholders should have opportunities for meaningful participation in the budget development process.” (2020 Standard(s) 2.E.2;2.E.3) 

While this sanction of warning is serious and should motivate us all to come together across the College, in each area, to align our work and ensure the College stays accredited, we do want to acknowledge the rich and robust work already underway. And to acknowledge that these improvements will improve our college and the way we serve our community. 

Join us tomorrow to learn about those efforts, to learn how you can get involved, and to ask questions (the session will be recorded and posted on DAAG): 

Accreditation Finding Q and A 

Thursday, 4-5 pm  

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84369347745 
Meeting ID: 843 6934 7745 
Dial +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma) 

Sincerely, 

Jack Kahn, President 
 

Ann Garnsey-Harter, Associate VP-Planning, Institutional Effectiveness, & Project Management and Accreditation Liaison Officer 

Large Campus Involvement in Accreditation Training

Thanks to everyone who participated in and helped prepare for the training this week with our accreditor, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

NWCCU logo graphic

The day was kicked off with a training session with the newly-formed  Accreditation & Institutional Effectiveness Committee. There also were sessions with Executive Team and Student Learning, Equity, & Success Leadership Team; the Learning Outcomes Assessment Committee, Faculty Program Chairs, and Deans; a Q & A session open to campus; and finally the Study Session with the Board of Trustees (BOT).

Ed Harri, Senior Vice President with the NWCCU, told the BOT that he was heartened to see more than 50 faculty, staff, and administrators from around the College come to the training sessions. It was emphasized in the sessions that accreditation work needs to be done across the College and is a shared effort.

Accreditation Training group photo in training room with laptops and conference tables

See training  agenda here and  training slides here.

Recordings of individual sessions will be sent out to those groups relevant to each recording.

The College will be receiving a formal letter from the NWCCU next week in response to the NWCCU’s last site visit in October 2022 and more information will be shared at that point.

Sincerely,

Ann Garnsey-HarterPh.D.
Associate VP-Planning, Institutional Effectiveness, & Project Management
Accreditation Liaison Officer

%d bloggers like this: