Community Colleges to seek new accreditation model

The decision by the board of California Community Colleges comes due in large part due to constant (Scott Maxwell / Flickr / Creative Commons)

The decision by the board of California Community Colleges to drop their current accreditor was influenced by the many conflicts arising from numerous setbacks.  (Scott Maxwell / Flickr / Creative Commons)

The California Community Colleges Board of Governors has voted to replace the accreditation system of 113 community colleges including Saddleback College.

In a unanimous decision taken Monday, Nov. 16, the board has moved to drop the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges in favor of a new means of accrediting colleges.

According to an official press release, the decision to drop ACCJC was because it “lost credibility with its peers and no longer meets the current and anticipated needs of California community colleges.”

“The Board of Governors is looking to the future needs of our colleges and striving to ensure the highest level of quality for the 2.1 million students we serve,” Board President Geoffrey L. Baum said in the release. “There is widespread agreement among faculty, staff, trustees and other leaders within our system that the current accreditation process needs significant improvement.”

The decision to drop ACCJC, according to the release, is due in large part to a task force report released in Aug. 2015. The report, the release states, found “disproportionately high and frequent sanctions imposed on California colleges.” This has occurred more times than any other college outside of California.

Paul H. Feist, Vice Chancellor for Communications for the Board of Governors, adds that the problem is inflated due to the uniqueness of how accreditation works for two-year colleges in California.

“This is the only region of the country that has an accreditor for the two-year colleges and a separate accreditor for the four-year institutions,” Feist said.

This is a hindrance to board’s goals to improving education in the state, as influenced by findings in a recent task force report released in October that placed great emphasis on improving community colleges in California. The board is unable to fully establish, a number of goals which require the cooperation of four-year colleges according to the release.

As ACCJC does not accredit four-year colleges, Feist says this is another reason for the board’s decision to drop them.

“It might make sense to have our colleges accredited by the same agency that accredits four-year institutions because we ourselves are venturing into the issuance of bachelor’s degrees on a limited basis.”

The board’s decision to look for a new accreditation model now allows the Chancellor’s Office, led by Chancellor Brice Harris, to research changes for implementation and a timetable for how they are to be implemented. The board has set a deadline for this March for Harris to submit final proposals.

Talks with new accreditors in the meantime is also taking place according to Paul who adds that, should talks be successful, it will be some time before changes take effect.

“It isn’t a process that happens just overnight. Our colleges are accredited on seven years, so it would take several years if the board decides to go that direction: to migrate colleges to a new accrediting agency.”

The Federal Department of Education will make the final decision on whether the new accreditor selected is a valid replacement.