CCAC Official Says Accreditation Warning An Opportunity To Excel

Jul 14, 2017

The Community College of Allegheny County has been issued a warning by its accrediting body, which requires the college to re-evaluate how it measures student learning.

Like all colleges accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, CCAC submits a self-study every 10 years to demonstrate how it meets the accrediting body’s 14 standards. Then a team of evaluators, administrators from other accredited colleges makes a campus visit.

The college “got a clean bill of health on 13 of the 14 standards,” said CCAC provost Stuart Blacklaw. “Then they asked us to take a harder look at standard 14...the mechanism colleges use to evaluate how students are learning.”

While the warning came as a surprise, Blacklaw said it’s an opportunity to keep pushing for excellence.

“It’s part of a system that ensures that when people come to CCAC that they know they are going to get a high quality experience," he said. 

CCAC’s report and proposed changes are due to the commission in March. A vice president for assessment and institutional effectiveness was appointed to lead the effort, as well as to build a more robust student learning evaluation overall.

“When we do that really well, we’re on top of what we’re doing in the classroom at a level that can increase our instruction semester after semester in every aspect of the college.”

The commission’s evaluators are colleagues, said Blacklaw, and so they push one another to provide the best education possible.

CCAC is confident the plan will pass muster, said Blacklaw. In the meantime, CCAC remains fully accredited.