About the Mid-Cycle Review
Beginning in 2014, WASC Senior College and University Commission began instituting a "Mid-Cycle Review" of each institution near the midpoint of its period of accreditation. The purpose of the Mid-Cycle Review is to "identify problems with an institution's or program's continued compliance with agency standards" while "tak[ing] into account institutional or program strengths and stability" (U.S. Department of Education, §602.19(b)). The Mid-Cycle Review focuses particularly on student achievement, drawing on evidence from an update of the institution’s Inventory of Educational Effectiveness Indicators (IEEI) and retention and graduation data.
At its November 2013 meeting, the Commission approved the following change in language to the 2013 Handbook of Accreditation, page 37, Commission Actions, to reflect this process:
Reaffirmation is granted for a period of 6, 8, or 10 years and will be accompanied by a requirement for a Mid-Cycle Review to enable the Commission to discover any areas of potential non-compliance with its Standards. The Commission may also request other reports and/or special visits or may issue a formal Notice of Concern.
Frequently Asked Questions
The U.S. Department of Education requires that accrediting agencies regularly monitor institutions:
§602.19(b) The agency must demonstrate it has, and effectively applies, a set of monitoring and evaluation approaches that enables the agency to identify problems with an institution's or program's continued compliance with agency standards and that takes into account institutional or program strengths and stability. These approaches must include periodic reports, and collection and analysis of key data and indicators, identified by the agency, including, but not limited to, fiscal information and measures of student achievement, consistent with the provisions of 602.16(f). This provision does not require institutions or programs to provide annual reports on each specific accreditation criterion.
The Mid-Cycle Review takes place at or near the midpoint year of each institution’s accreditation cycle. For example, if the institution is reaffirmed for 6 years, the Mid-Cycle Review takes place in Year 3; if the institution is reaffirmed for 10 years, the Mid-Cycle review takes place in Year 5.
1. Mid-Cycle Review Data Elements
a) WSCUC staff review the institution’s public student achievement website, which is submitted by providing the URL for it in the Annual Report.
b) WSCUC staff gather and review retention and graduation data for undergraduate and graduate students.
- For undergraduate students, the institution's annual report to WSCUC of its student success data, as specified in CFR 1.2 (2013 Handbook), is reviewed.
- In addition, data are gathered directly from IPEDS (the 5-year profile of undergraduate retention and graduation). Institutions that do not submit undergraduate data to IPEDS are asked to submit relevant retention and graduation data trends in a comparable format.
- Additionally, WSCUC staff review data submitted for the institution’s Undergraduate Student Success and Graduation Rate Dashboard
- For graduate students, data are gathered from the institution's annual reporting to WSCUC of its publicly available retention and graduation rates, as specified in CFR 1.2 (2013 Handbook).
c) WSCUC staff review the institution’s updated Inventory of Educational Effectiveness Indicators (IEEI).
Institutions undergoing a Mid-Cycle Review are asked to submit an update of their Inventory of Educational Effectiveness Indicators. The update includes any changes that have occurred since the institution’s last reaffirmation.
- For institutions with large numbers of degrees at each degree level, updates on degree programs that have undergone program review in the last two years will be sufficient.
- For programs regulated by professional licensure (such as law or the health sciences), submission of the results of that latest review will be sufficient.
Institutions should work with their WSCUC staff liaison for specific guidance on the content of the IEEI at the time of the Mid-Cycle Review. Updates should clearly specify (with, for example, tracked changes or highlighting) what aspects of the IEEI have been changed since the institution’s latest reaffirmation.
d) WSCUC staff evaluate any trends emerging from Annual Reports since the institution’s last reaffirmation to identify potential issues pertaining to the Standards.
2. Results of the Mid-Cycle Review
Depending on the initial review of the available data, WSCUC staff may request additional information or clarification from the institution.
If there are no issues resulting from the Mid-Cycle Review, staff will inform the institution; the institution’s accreditation history will note that there were no issues resulting from the Mid-Cycle Review.
If there are issues that may indicate a problem with continued compliance with WSCUC standards and hence warrant Commission Action, staff will inform the institution and forward its evaluation of the Mid-Cycle Review to the Interim Report Committee (IRC). The staff report will cite the relevant Criteria for Review (CFR) or policy, and the institution will be invited to submit a brief response for consideration by the IRC. The Interim Report Committee will convene a special panel to talk with the institution, undertake additional investigation as needed, and determine if the issues warrant Commission attention.
- If the IRC finds that the issues raised by the Mid-Cycle review do not warrant Commission attention, the institution’s accreditation history will note that the IRC found no issues resulting from the Mid-Cycle Review.
- If the IRC’s review finds a problem with the institution’s continued compliance with WSCUC standards, the IRC will report its findings to the Commission and the Institution, and may recommend a possible action. The Commission will take appropriate action at its next regular meeting. The institution’s accreditation history will reflect the issues of concern that emerged during the Mid-Cycle Review as well as actions required.
WSCUC staff will systematically evaluate the review process, including indicators of potential non-compliance, in order to identify trends and areas for improvement and institutional support.
Though there are potential parallels between the Mid-Cycle Review and an Interim Report, they have key differences in purpose and process:
- The focus of an Interim Report is set by Commission Action in terms of both time and content, is specific to an institution, and is processed through an established peer review panel using set protocols.
- The Mid-Cycle Review, by contrast, is a review of the institution's data with a key focus on student achievement, is based on a uniform template, calendared by a set formula, and is reviewed by staff.
- Not all institutions are required to do an Interim Report; all institutions will be required to have a Mid-Cycle Review at the mid-point of their accreditation cycle.