Accreditation is the process of having an external quality review to ensure that colleges, universities, and educational programs are of the highest quality. Tulsa Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
By definition, accreditation is the process of by which an educational institutions is recognized for “maintaining standards that qualify the graduates for admission to higher or more specialized institutions or for professional practice.”
In addition to permitting students to receive federal financial assistance, accreditation also allows for transfer of credits and ensures that TCC courses have rigor and quality expected of a higher learning institution.
TCC has been engaged in the process of reaffirming accreditation with the HLC via the Open Pathway for the past few years. HLC’s Open Pathway separates the continued accreditation process into two components: the Assurance Review and the Quality Initiative.
The assurance review process requires the college to provide evidence and write an Assurance Argument that addresses the HLC’s criteria for accreditation. Two assurance reviews will take place in the ten-year cycle; one in Year 4 and one in Year 10. The Year 4 review is completed electronically through the Assurance System and does not include a visit. The Year 10 review includes a visit to the campus. TCC’s review in 2018 is the Year 10 review.
Assurance Arguments are submitted to the HLC via the Assurance System. The Assurance System is a web-based technology that institutions use to provide the Assurance Argument and evidentiary materials. The Assurance Argument is organized by the Criteria and their Core Components. For each Criterion, the institution offers:
- An articulation of how each Core Component within the Criterion is met, including a statement of future plans
- A statement regarding any additional ways in which the institution fulfills the Criterion
- Links to materials stored in the institution’s Evidence File
The Evidence File is an electronic filing cabinet where all documents that support statements made in the Assurance Argument are maintained. Each document must be linked directly to the Assurance Argument. When the Assurance Argument and Evidence File are submitted for review, peer reviewers will be able to access the argument as well as supporting evidence in order to provide feedback.
Between Years 5 and 9 of the ten-year cycle, the institution proposes and completes a Quality Initiative as an institutional improvement project. TCC’s Quality Initiative for this accreditation cycle is being completed via participation in HLC’s Academy for Persistence and Completion. The Academy Team, co-led by Dr. Jennifer Ivie, Jose Dela Cruz, Vickie Robison, and Hutch Hutchinson-Lytle, is focused on developing and implementing a new entry-level placement process for students. The new process utilizes multiple methods to ensure students are placed in the appropriate courses when they first enroll at the College. TCC will complete its participation in the Academy and thus, the Quality Initiative, during Academic Year 2017-2018.
Paula Settoon, Accreditation Liaison Officer
HLC Assurance Committee Chairs: Dr. Lisa Gerow and Paula Settoon
Committee: Debbie Batson, Ashley Bishop, Heather Hancock, Dr. Jenn Ivie, Jona Schweinberg, Kari Shults, Dr. Angela Sivadon, Cheryl Stanley