In AQIP, the formal procedure culminating in Reaffirmation of Accreditation occurs every seven years. In the Reaffirmation procedure, an AQIP Review Panel on Reaffirmation reviews each institution's cumulative record of activity and judges whether it has documented that it meets The Higher Learning Commission's five Criteria for Accreditation. The Panel also recommends whether the institution should be permitted to continue participating in AQIP.
Review the AQIP Reaffirmation Process Outline and Timetable for more information.
Reaffirmation Rests upon a Cumulative Body of Evidence
Reaffirmation in AQIP cannot be viewed as a separate standalone procedure. Rather, AQIP's Reaffirmation procedure is the culmination of all the other AQIP procedures: Strategy Forums, Action Projects, Annual Updates, Systems Appraisals, and Quality Checkup visits
Reaffirmation is best conceptualized as the apex of a pyramid supported by all the other AQIP procedures, drawing from them and building on their results. In this way, it is similar to the review by two Accreditation Review Council readers of all the materials related to a comprehensive on-site evaluation review in the PEAQ accreditation process. However, AQIP Reaffirmation involves review of a much broader array of evidence about the institution gathered over a longer period.
In AQIP, institutions identify and take action to address their most crucial issues (Action Projects) with the assistance of peer review and feedback (Strategy Forums), and AQIP holds them regularly accountable for progress on these projects (Annual Update Reviews). AQIP institutions analyze themselves (following an outline of key processes identified in the AQIP Categories) and prepare a comprehensive written description of their current practices and current levels of performance (Systems Portfolio), keeping this up-to-date with continual revision. AQIP institutions revise their Systems Portfolio to incorporate the results of Action Projects completed as well as to update performance results. Once every four years, AQIP assigns a peer reviewer team to review, rigorously and formally (Systems Appraisal), an institution's current self-description to assure that acceptable practices are being followed, and to provide the institution with actionable feedback on its next priorities for improvement (in a System Appraisal Feedback Report). A Quality Checkup visit to each institution examines both the seriousness with which an institution is working on its highest priorities and the evidence that it meets all accrediting requirements, focusing particularly on unsettled issues and any gaps in the evidentiary record identified by the Systems Appraisal.
Collectively, AQIP's procedures encompass the same ends as traditional PEAQ self-study processes and team visits. However, there is no easy one-to-one equivalence between AQIP's array of procedures and PEAQ's self-study and on-site evaluation.
Reaffirmation of Accreditation is the step in which peer reviewers examine all of the findings and evidence from the other AQIP procedures to provide assurance that an institution complies with all accreditation requirements. While not a de novo review of the institution, Reaffirmation of Accreditation comprises a comprehensive examination of questions and conclusions raised by all the other AQIP procedures, one that recognizes the possibility that there may still be unsettled issues of compliance with the five Criteria for Accreditation. If any such issues remain from the earlier procedures, or if any arise during the Reaffirmation procedure itself, there are defined and deliberate steps to be followed to deal with them.
At the end of AQIP's Reaffirmation process, the AQIP Review Panel on Reaffirmation makes any of the following recommendations to The Higher Learning Commission's Institutional Actions Council (IAC):
- That the institution meets the Criteria for Accreditation and the obligations of AQIP without issue, and that it be permitted to continue in AQIP with its accreditation reaffirmed for another seven years.
- That the institution meets the Criteria for Accreditation and the obligations of AQIP, but that specific monitoring on a progress or improvement issue take place through the Actions Project cycle or another means.
- That the institution meets the Criteria for Accreditation without issue, but that it should return to PEAQ and be scheduled for a comprehensive evaluation in five or fewer years. The standard for this decision is whether there is perceptible quality improvement documented in the institution’s materials; continuing to meet the Criteria for Accreditation does not alone provide sufficient grounds for continued AQIP participation. In addition, the Panel may recommend specific monitoring (reports, focused visits) to be applied in the PEAQ process.
- That the institution presents such a serious issue of potential noncompliance with the Criteria for Accreditation that the Commission should consider taking immediate action. The Panel could recommend that the Commission schedule an immediate advisory visit to the institution to evaluate whether to move directly to provisions outlined in its policies for monitoring, sanction, and withdrawal. During that visit, there would also be consideration of whether problems at the institution justify the institution’s return to PEAQ.
Related Resources to the AQIP Pathway