What is Accreditation?

Accreditation is a status granted to an educational institution that has been found to meet or exceed stated criteria of educational quality. Institutions voluntarily seek accreditation, and it is conferred by non-governmental bodies. Accreditation has two fundamental purposes:

You can visit ACCJC’s newsletter to read articles about higher education and accreditation.

What is the Process of Accreditation?

Colleges follow a six-year cycle during which institutional review is continuous. These reviews include an Annual Report, and Annual Fiscal Report, a Midterm Report in the third year following a comprehensive review, and a comprehensive self study report and visit by a team of peers. To view examples of these reports, click on the College Reports to ACCJC link on the left of the ACCJC website. The Commission may request other reports and visits as it deems necessary.

Why is Accreditation so Important?

Complete loss of accreditation would mean that the college closes. To avert that dire step, a college losing their accreditation could also become a center to a neighboring college.

Although preparing for an accreditation site visit entails much work, approval used to be a routine task. However, ACCJC has used more rigorous evaluations in the past for years. For example, during the Commission’s June meeting they fully reaffirmed only seven California community colleges while seven schools were put on warning and three on probation. You may visit the ACCJC webpage on recent commission actions for more information on the accreditation status of California community colleges.

In a recent publication, ACCJC analyzed the most common institutional deficiencies that caused the Commission to impose a sanction of warning, probation, and show cause. As of January 2009, 22 member institutions were on sanction. Of the institutions on sanction in January 2009,

  • 16 colleges did not have adequate program review of instructional programs or services at least at the Proficiency Level
  • 21 failed to have integrated planning using assessment results at least at the Proficiency Level on the Commission’s Rubric for Evaluating Institutional Effectiveness
  • 9 suffered from financial management or stability issues
  • 10 had governing boards that failed to adhere to appropriate roles
  • 13 had ineffective internal governance processes; and
  • 16 had miscellaneous other deficiencies

It is noteworthy that 15 colleges on sanction have deficiencies in both program review and planning using assessment results (both required by the 1994 Standards); 14 have three or more areas of deficiencies; and 12 were instructed to address some of the same issues at the time of the last comprehensive review (and several were instructed to do so at the time of the comprehensive review before that).

What are the Types of Accreditation?

  • Reaffirmed
  • Placed on warning
  • Placed on probation
  • Continued on warning
  • Loss of accreditation

These levels of accreditation are modified by required focused mid-term reports and/or mid-term site visits. Accreditation status may be altered, positively or negatively, following evaluation of the focused mid-term reports or site visits.