Member Institutions Approve Revised Standards
MSCHE member and candidate institutions have approved the Commission's revised Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation. The standards were developed through a comprehensive process lasting nearly 18 months.
The Commission endorsed and approved the revisions, after which the chief executive officers of MSCHE institutions voted to approve the revised standards. To view the revised standards, click here.
Review of the Standards
In accordance with CFR 34 602.21 Review of Standards, the Commission conducts a regular review of its accreditation standards. During Spring 2013 the Commission began its latest comprehensive review of the standards. These efforts were led by a Steering Committee representing MSCHE member institutions, the MSCHE staff, and the general public.
The Steering Committee followed a timeline that provided for a maximum of feedback from member institutions.
The Steering Committee followed a set of Guiding Principles. These four Guiding Principles were developed by the Commission to reflect the areas that were identified as the most important to the membership of the Commission: Mission-Centric Quality Assurance, the Student Learning Experience, Continuous Improvement, and Supporting Innovation.
Prior to drafting revisions to the Standards, the Steering Committee held a series of listening sessions with proponents and critics of regional accreditation, to hear their points of view. Among those making presentations at the listening sessions were representatives of the Lumina Foundation, University System of Maryland, Council for Higher Education Accreditation, Princeton University, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, the Washington, DC, law firm of Dow Lohnes, International Association of Universities, American Council on Education, Western Governors University, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at SUNY-Albany, Trinity Washington University, American Council of Trustees and Alumni, School of Visual Arts in New York City, and the National Student Clearinghouse.
In addition, the Commission and the Steering Committee co-hosted a series of Spring and Fall 2013 Town Hall meetings to hear suggestions from member institutions regarding revisions to the Standards. These Town Halls were held in Albany, NY; Ewing, NJ; Washington, DC; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Lancaster, PA. The 2013 Town Halls were attended by 340 individuals representing 208 institutions. Following the development of the initial draft of revisions, the Commission held an additional series of Town Hall meetings during February, March, and April 2014. These were held in San Juan, Puerto Rico (February 20); Baltimore, MD (February 26); Pittsburgh, PA (March 21); Philadelphia, PA (March 27); and Albany, NY (April 1). The 2014 Town Halls were attended by 391 individuals representing 191 institutions, plus representatives of the State University of New York system office, the University of Puerto Rico system office, and the Puerto Rico Council on Higher Education.
Review of the Proposed Revisions
The proposed revisions to the Standards were presented to and reviewed by the full Commission at its November 21, 2013 meeting. Following this review, the proposed revisions were presented for comment to member institutions during a plenary session at the Commission’s December 2013 Annual Conference. A series of Town Hall meetings took place during February, March, and April 2014 to enable representatives of member institutions to comment on the proposed revisions and ask questions. The Commission endorsed the revised draft on June 26, 2014.
Public Call for Comments
The Commission solicited feedback from over 4000 organizations, agencies, and individuals, inviting them to comment on the proposed revisions. The recipients of these messages included all accreditors that are recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education, higher education officials in all 50 states, various higher education organizations, multiple people at every MSCHE institution, all attendees at the Commission’s 2013 Annual Conference, and others. From December 18, 2013 through January 31, 2014, the Commission collected 421 written comments about the proposed revisions. Additional comments were received from early February through early June. Based on this feedback, the Steering Committee made changes to the draft of the revisions. The final draft was presented to the full Commission at its June 26, 2014 meeting. Following discussion, the Commission unanimously endorsed the draft.
Following the Commission's unanimous endorsement of the revised standards on June 26, 2014, the Commission distributed a ballot on September 10, 2014. Each member institution was allowed one vote---that of the chief executive officer. Ballots were due no later than September 30, 2014. The chief executives voted to approve the revised standards.
Collaborative Implementation Project
The Commission approved a plan to implement the revised standards through a unique Collaborative Implementation Project. The project involves a cohort of 15 institutions that are scheduled to submit their self-studies and host evaluation teams during the 2016-2017 academic year. Throughout the next two years these 15 institutions will undergo a "high touch" experience in which they will speak frequently with members of the Commission staff and with each other, as they engage in self-study. They will also play an active role in preparing other institutions to use the revised standards. All institutions hosting an evaluation team visit in the 2017-2018 academic year and beyond will engage in self-studies guided by the revised standards.
Watch for details.