(From Schuh and Upcraft, Assessment in Student Affairs and the Handbook of Accreditation, NCA)  


I.                   North Central Association of Colleges and Schools: At and


A.    Voluntary and is a non-governmental agency


B.     Institutions voluntarily seek accreditation; however, institutions must be accredited for students to be eligible to participate in federal financial aid programs


C.     Institutions are reviewed every ten years


D.    In general, the accrediting associations have similar processes, but variations exist


1.      There are six regional agencies providing accreditation on a geographic basis: Middle States, New England, North Central, Northwest, Southern, and Western

2.      While independent of one another, they cooperate extensively

3.      NCA is responsible for accreditation of 19 states

4.      NCA was formed in 1895; it began accrediting institutions in 1913

5.      In June, 2000, NCA adopted new criteria based on an internal self-evaluation for several years

6.      NCA has a new mission statement, core values, vision, and strategic priorities

7.      NCA’s mission: “Serving the common good by assuring and advancing the quality of higher education

8.      NCA’s core values: quality, integrity, innovation, diversity, inclusiveness, service, collaboration, and learning

9.      NCA’s traditional program for maintaining accredited status was given a new identity in 2003: Program to Evaluate and Advance Quality (PEAQ)




E.     Accreditation evaluators meet five criteria


1.      Official, full-time employees of NCA institutions


2.      Have appropriate training and experience


3.      Meet the projected needs of the commission


4.      Represent a diversity of people


5.      Are willing and able to devote their time and energy to the process


II.                North Central Association: five key factors in long-range assessment of student learning


A.    The governing board supports the assessment of student learning across the institution’s educational programs


B.     Senior executive officers provide leadership and support for assessment


C.    Sufficient resources are allocated to sustain ongoing assessment efforts


D.    Funds are available to support changes that need to be made to enhance student academic achievement


E.     All planning and budgeting processes include ways in which assessment information can influence institutional priorities


III.             Timing of Assessment: NCA guidelines


A.    Assessment needs to be done on an annual basis


B.     Regular, routine assessments need to be done


C.    The assessment process needs to be comprehensive, applied to a wide range of programs


D.    All programs in Student Affairs need to hold assessments, including assessing student needs, student satisfaction with programs and services, and  measuring the impact of programs and service through outcomes assessments


IV.             Steps in the Re-Accreditation Process


A.    The organization engages in a self-study process for approximately two years and prepares a report of its findings in accordance with Commission expectations

B.     The Commission sends an evaluation team of consultant-evaluators to conduct a comprehensive visit for continued accreditation and to write a report  containing the team’s recommendation.

C.    The documents relating to the comprehensive visit are reviewed by a Readers Panel, or in some situations, a Review Committee

D.    The Institutional Actions Committee (IAC) takes action on the Readers Panel’s recommendation. (If a Review Committee reviewed the visit, the Review Committee takes action.)

E.     The Board of Trustees validates the IAC or Review Committee, finalizing the action.



V.                General Potential Assessment Questions by an Accreditation Team


A.    Do you have an assessment plan?


B.     Are you doing assessment, and if so, what have you done or are you doing?


C.     Has what you have done led to improvement of services and programs?


VI.             More Specific Potential Questions by an Accreditation Team


A.    What is your Student Affairs mission, and do your services and programs reflect this mission?


B.     Who are your students, and is there evidence that your student services and programs match well with the needs of these students?


C.    What evidence is there that your students are satisfied with the student services and programs that you offer?


D.    Is there a relationship between use of your student services and programs and intended student outcomes?


E.     Does the assessment of your services and programs focus on student learning outcomes?


F.     How would you describe your campus climate?


G.    Can you demonstrate that your student services and programs meet accepted national professional standards and service- specific accreditation?


H.    Do the breadth, depth, and quality of your student services and programs compare well with institutions similar to you?


I.       Are your student services and programs cost-effective?


VII.          Use of Professional Standards: Council for the Advancement of Standards for Higher Education (CAS)


A.    Chartered in 1979, CAS is a consortium of professional associations to develop standards for student services and student development programs in higher education


B.     Standards have been developed for institutions to implement self-evaluations


C.    Standards use language like “must”, “shall”, or “will”, while guidelines use “should” or “may”.


D.    Eight separate steps are recommended for implementing a CAS self-study.


1.      Decide on a self-study approach


2.      Identify guidelines to use


3.      Clarify criterion measures to be used


4.      Identify and summarize evaluative data


5.      Describe discrepancies between criteria and practice


6.      Delineate required corrective actions


7.      Recommend program enhancement actions


8.      Prepare an action plan