Because the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), a division of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) has now adopted the new accrediting standards over our many objections, this report was constructed with three separate thrusts: (1) it accounts for Academic Senate positions and continuing faculty concerns with and objections to the current accreditation approach; (2) it provides a summary of the experiences of the colleges who piloted the new standards; and (3) it provides practical, pragmatic assistance to local senates who must address the new Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) requirements and accommodate the shifting paradigm required for completing the self study. All of these approaches consider why and how the accreditation process should occur within boundaries of local senate governance and with due attention to institutional missions, local bargaining authority, privacy protections under the law, academic freedom, and common sense. The paper concludes with recommendations for local senates and contains useful resources and models within the appendices.
- Local faculty should be familiar with references that establish the basis for local senate rights and responsibilities in the Education Code and Title 5, understanding that those take precedent over accreditation standards if and when they are determined by local senates to be in conflict with their academic and professional rights.
- Local senates should determine the selection of certain key people involved in the self study process, including the self study's Lead Faculty Chair and the Learning Outcomes/Assessment Coordinator (LOAC) who should be compensated with appropriate release, stipends, and/or reassignment considerations (2.02. F03).
- Local senates should engage the entire college community in the holistic exploration of appropriate and reasonable criteria for the implementation of SLOs for library and student support services units.
- Local senates are encouraged to adopt a statement of philosophy about the nature and use of assessment mechanisms and SLOs prior to their being implemented.
- Local senates are urged to work with local bargaining units to resist efforts to link evaluation of faculty to the accreditation process itself and to reject recommendations that suggest a college must accede to such demands.
- Local senates are strongly advised to employ methodologies that create a blind between individual class sections and the institution to protect the privacy of students and faculty (2.01 F03).
- Local senates are urged to take measures to safeguard the academic freedom of untenured and adjunct faculty, including adopting statements on academic freedom and privacy such as those adopted by the Academic Senate and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) (2.01 F03).
- Local senates are advised to establish processes, timelines and guidelines for creating, identifying and assessing SLOs in all matters related to accreditation and ongoing planning, including curriculum, program review-and in close cooperation with all student service related programs (2.01 S04; refer also to Appendix D).
- Local senates are urged to not accept for adoption externally designed, prefabricated SLOs except as required by those certificate and occupational education programs requiring licensure or board certification-and to recognize that even with such national and state standards, local faculty retain responsibility to scrutinize such instruments in relation to course and program goals and objectives (2.01 F04).
- Local senates and curriculum committees are strongly advised to use "objectives" in Course Outlines of Record as opposed to "Student Learning Outcomes." Until definitions of assessment terminology have been standardized within the system and among intersegmental groups, the term "Student Learning Outcomes" is suggestive of assessment choices that are rightfully a matter of course level determination by the instructors of record (2.05 F04).