A Big Help with the HLC Accreditation Journey
The process of achieving accreditation is a lengthy undertaking for any institution of higher education. Institutions will expend a great deal of time and effort securing an initial accreditation approval and will celebrate this achievement as an institution-wide success. This well-deserved celebration, however, is sometimes viewed as an end-point for the accreditation process. However, once the initial accreditation has been secured, the institution has just begun its ongoing accreditation journey.
As an example, an institution can choose HLC’s Standard, Open or AQIP Pathways to achieve accreditation. While the reaffirmation cycles may vary for each pathway, every pathway requires some form of regular data reporting, interim reporting or periodic systems portfolio update. What does this mean for the institution? It means that there is no down time in the ongoing accreditation journey!
Because HLC accreditation is based on continuous quality improvement principles, the most effective stance for an institution is to approach both earning an initial accreditation and maintaining the accreditation through reaffirmation as an ongoing process. In addition, the best approach to ensuring successful reporting submissions and periodic monitoring visits is through maintaining accurate and up-to-date evidence of compliance with the requirements. By handling the compliance evidence sets as living pieces of information, the institution can adopt a habit of living in the accreditation cycle as opposed to reacting to and collecting data for specific points in time on the accreditation continuum.
How Can WIDS help an institution maintain these live evidence sets?
Since 1994, the WIDS model and software has been helping colleges ensure consistent curriculum design, alignment, management, and dissemination across the entire organization.
Educators use WIDS tools to:
- establish clear performance expectations for every organization, program, and course outcome
- design and align curriculum and develop curriculum maps;
- plan for, execute and document curriculum review;
- and design and execute outcomes assessment plans
This provides organizations with an efficient method for meeting the requirements and simultaneously generating the documentation needed as evidence of compliance. In addition, the Outcome Assessment Plan (OAP) feature allows institutions to record and store assessment plans, store student outcome evaluation results data, and record plans and strategies for using the resulting data to improve experiences and achievement of student learning (close the loop). WIDS provides an efficient means for an institution to maintain ongoing curriculum review records; maintain an alignment between current curriculum and current assessment strategies; and document assessment plans and results in one location.
What about providing the HLC required evidence at a specific point in time?
WIDS reporting tools provide customized documentation for easy access to evidence that specific HLC requirements are met. To see how WIDS software features address HLC Standards and Criteria download our free resource -- WIDS & Accreditation: An HLC Example. Contact WIDS at any time to learn more about our product and process for designing, aligning, and managing curriculum.