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Why Accreditation? Earning the Public’s Trust
What is accreditation?
Our accrediting agency, the Northwest Commission of Colleges & Universities (NWCCU), explains:
“Regional accreditation of post-secondary institutions is a voluntary, non-governmental, self-regulatory process of quality assurance and institutional improvement. It recognizes higher education institutions for performance, integrity, and quality to merit the confidence of the educational community and the public.”
Why is accreditation important to WOU?
Why are we asked to demonstrate our effectiveness?
The public invests in us directly and indirectly.
- A lot of students and money flow into higher education.
- Billions of dollars in government and private support flow directly to students, including Pell Grants, other grant aid and loans.
- Student loans create burdens for students, especially first generation college students, students of color and students who do not complete a degree.
- As states invest less per student in higher education, the financial burden shifts to individual students.
- Because its cost has risen faster than incomes of most families, higher education has become less affordable.
- More from the College Board on trends in student aid.
Because we and our students benefit from societal resources, we are expected to…use those resources wisely, seek continual improvement and be accountable to the public.
What does accreditation involve?
Accreditation is a quality assurance process. We:
- Set goals, do our work and assess whether we have achieved our goals.
- Demonstrate a process for continual improvement.
- Provide evidence of our effectiveness.
- Invite our institutional peers to review us.
What is the faculty role in accreditation?
Through accreditation we provide evidence of WOU’s compliance with NWCCU standards. Several standards and criteria specifically address faculty responsibilities. In our self-study, we document that our faculty have met these responsibilities:
- Faculty, through well-defined structures and processes with clearly defined authority and responsibilities, exercise a major role in the design, approval, implementation, and revision of the curriculum, and have an active role in the selection of new faculty. Faculty with teaching responsibilities take collective responsibility for fostering and assessing student achievement of clearly identified learning outcomes. (2.C.5)
- Faculty with teaching responsibilities, in partnership with library and information resources personnel, ensure that the use of library and information resources is integrated into the learning process. (2.C.6)
- … Transfer of credit is evaluated according to clearly defined policies by faculty with a major commitment to graduate education or by a representative body of faculty responsible for the degree program at the receiving institution. (2.C.13)
- …Faculty representing the disciplines and fields of work are appropriately involved in the planning and evaluation of the institution’s continuing education and special learning activities. (2.C.17)
- …Faculty have a primary role in the evaluation of educational programs and services. (4.A.2)
- … Faculty with teaching responsibilities are responsible for evaluating student achievement of clearly identified learning outcomes. (4.A.3)
Where can I find WOU’s self-studies and accreditation reports?
NWCCU-related documents are under “Accreditation” on the Academic Affairs website.
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