• Seeking Comment on Draft Revised WSCUC Standards of Accreditation

Establishing the Standards for Accreditation is one of the most serious and far-reaching responsibilities of an accrediting organization. To achieve a successful result requires careful review and thoughtful recommendations by institutional representatives and many other stakeholders. WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC or Commission) invites that review to help us achieve effective Standards that serve our objectives for quality, clarity, accountability, flexibility, and improvement in the service of equitable student learning and success. Please assist us by contributing to this significant review process.
 
Draft Revised Standards Current Standards Side-by-side Comparison of Draft and Current Standards

Opportunities to Comment


While the Commission welcomes comment on any aspect of the Standards, it particularly seeks reactions and recommendations on a series of questions that arose during development of this proposal. Written comments should be submitted via email by Thursday, October 6, 2022 to standardscomments@wscuc.org or mailed to:
 
WASC Senior College and University Commission
1080 Marina Village Parkway
Suite 500
Alameda, CA 94501
 
Guiding Questions

Background


The Standards of Accreditation (hereafter, the Standards) provide the foundational criteria by which an institution achieves and maintains accreditation with WSCUC. The Standards articulate the values that underpin accreditation by WSCUC and the broad principles of good practice established by the Commission and its accredited institutions and provide the basis for institutional review. The Standards, which are further defined and amplified by the Criteria for Review (CFRs), express a commitment to success for all students, ensure institutional quality, and promote institutional cultures of evidence and improvement.

As outlined in the Review of Commission Standards Policy, the Commission periodically reviews the Standards to ensure that they are appropriate, relevant, broadly applicable, and consistent with federal requirements. The current process of Standards review began in 2019 with Commission consideration and discussions with WSCUC-accredited institutions, including specific sessions at two annual meetings and directly with CEOs and accreditation liaison officers. The Standards and each CFR have been revised based on input from member institutions’ governing boards, faculty, administrators, staff, and students, as well as peer reviewers, research and policy organizations, Commissioners, and WSCUC staff.

Initial Feedback and Principles of Revision


The Commission used this feedback to develop a set of Principles of Revision and the revised Standards.

The overall direction of comments was that the 2013 Standards in general reflect appropriate expectations for quality and improvement, with these important areas identified for revision:

  1. greater emphasis is needed on evidence, student success, and results
  2. diversity, equity and inclusion require more serious, broad, and contemporary attention
  3. CFRs should be clearer, less overlapping, and in some cases less specific or prescriptive

The resulting revised Standards:

  • are more focused and trimmer than the current version.
  • use language that will be applicable in all institutional settings.
  • focus each CFR on a single topic to avoid overlap.
  • delete guidelines that accompanied some CFRs.

Next Steps


Decision and implementation

The Commission will review the comments on both the substance and implementation of the Standards at its meeting in November 2022. The Commission will decide if it is ready to vote to adopt new Standards at that meeting. Whenever new Standards are approved the Commission will also determine the timetable for their implementation, incorporating the feedback that will be invited this fall. Assuming November 2022 adoption, the Commission expects the new Standards would begin to apply to accreditation reviews sometime between Spring 2024 and Spring 2025.

Comments

Comments and questions will be reviewed as they are received. Early comments are strongly encouraged, as they will help inform planning for town hall and special topics meetings, FAQs, and the path toward developing revised options. The last date for comments is Thursday, October 6.

Town Hall and other meetings and discussions

WSCUC is scheduling Zoom Town Hall meetings for interchange about the draft revised Standards, and the first one was held August 10th and is available to view. Additional meetings during August and September will be announced based on feedback and interest, including some to address particular guiding questions on the list that follows. WSCUC also welcomes invitations from stakeholders for commissioners or staff to join meetings to discuss the Standards review and to provide comment; please contact Jenn Webber at standardsreview@wscuc.org.

View the Aug. 10 Town Hall

Frequently Asked Questions


When are comments due?

Comments are due on Thursday, October 6, 2022.

How do I submit comments?

Written comments should be submitted via email by Thursday, October 6 to standardscomments@wscuc.org or mailed to:
WASC Senior College and University Commission
1080 Marina Village Parkway
Suite 500
Alameda, CA 94501

Will the WSCUC Handbook of Accreditation be revised?

The Commission recognizes that institutions need guidance to help interpret the Standards for their setting. Accordingly, a revised Handbook will include both references to relevant formal policies that amplify the intent of a CFR and a section on guidance. The guidance section of the revised Handbook will contain explanations and examples to assist an institution in applying the Standards to its circumstances.

The Handbook of Accreditation includes the Standards for Accreditation and also outlines the process for the institution to conduct its self-study and produce its institutional report (the Institutional Review Process, or IRP). At this time, we are presenting and asking for feedback only on the draft revised Standards. Over the next few months while comment on the draft revised Standards is received and analyzed, the Commission and its staff will also develop a draft revised IRP to present to institutions and the WSCUC community for feedback this fall.

What happens after WSCUC receives comments on the Draft Standards?

The Commission will review the comments on both the substance and implementation of the Standards at its meeting in November 2022. The Commission will decide if it is ready to vote to adopt new Standards at that meeting. Whenever new Standards are approved the Commission will also determine the timetable for their implementation, incorporating the feedback that will be invited this fall. Assuming November 2022 adoption, the Commission expects the new Standards would begin to apply to accreditation reviews sometime between Spring 2024 and Spring 2025.