I don’t know about you, but I am not motivated by scare tactics. A sentence beginning “Without accreditation” followed by frightening statistics does nothing more than bring forth my inner twelve year-old who mentally shuts down while rebelling in full voice. Instead, here are a few facts.
Because PCC is an accredited college . . .
Almost 40% of our students are able to receive Federal Financial Aid dollars.
The credits earned by 5,100 students who transfer to another college or university (each year) are accepted at the transfer institution.
Last year’s 3,400+ graduates have credentials that are valued by other institutions, employers and licensing agencies.
Almost $14 million in recently awarded grants will provide improved student services, new equipment, expanded curriculum and so much more.
But wait. This is supposed to be an assessment blog. Why the emphasis on accreditation?
Because to maintain our accreditation, PCC is required to “hasten its progress in demonstrating, through regular and systematic assessment, that students who complete their programs have achieved the intended learning outcomes of degrees and certificates. Further, the college must begin to demonstrate, in a regular and systematic fashion, how the assessment of student learning leads to the improvement of teaching and learning” from the visiting team response on behalf of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Spring 2010.
Scare tactic? Hardly - although it is certainly an important statement requiring action. Let’s first put this in context at PCC.
We care deeply that our students are learning. Period. It is our professional responsibility to understand what is working well and make improvements when needed. This is nothing new or different from what hundreds and hundreds of PCC faculty do in classrooms each day.
However, Northwest is also asking we demonstrate (in their language that means document) that we regularly and systematically assess graduates to have achieved the College defined outcomes. Furthermore, that we link how we used what is learned through assessment to make changes where needed to improve teaching and learning.
The faculty-driven Learning Assessment Council developed an assessment model which was initially implemented in 2009-10. As support staff to that work, I could see how institutional learning is both energized and realized through faculty creativity, insight and on-going commitment to excellence - the same qualities that support student learning.
As we ‘”hasten” our progress and fully implement the model this year, I believe we are on the path to fulfilling Northwest’s recommendation.