The Commission relies on constant contact with the institution to ensure quality higher learning. Accredited institutions are required to submit progress reports, monitoring reports, contingency reports, and annual reports as well as to participate in focus visits.
An organization attends to its affiliation between comprehensive visits by honoring the stipulations, notifying the Commission of program and site expansion, filing required reports, and hosting any focused visits. The federal government requires recognized accrediting agencies to make visits in some situations; therefore, hosting such visits is also involved in attending to affiliation status.
The Commission’s relationship with an institution is organic; that is, it may come under review in whole or in part as the institution’s circumstances change. All affiliated institutions also attend to affiliation by filing an Institutional Update with the Commission.
Submitting Required Reports
The Commission may require an interim report when its goal is to receive specific, important information from the institution, track how it is progressing in coping with certain changes or challenges, or receive evidence that plans came to fruition. The Commission may call for additional reports, require a focused visit, or, following guidance from the team, move forward the date of the next comprehensive evaluation.
The successful filing of a report is considered an official Commission action. The Commission analysis together with the Commission letter of acceptance is part of the organization’s official file and is shared with the next evaluation team.
Participating in Focused Visits
Focused visits occur between comprehensive evaluations and examine only specific aspects of an institution. A focused visit reviews specific developments and changes or follows up on concerns identified by a previous evaluation process and is not primarily concerned with determining whether an institution fulfills the Criteria for Accreditation.
The Institution Report for a Focused Visit
Prior to accreditation-related reviews, the institution provides the peer reviewers and the Commission with a set of required materials.
Required Materials and Submission Procedures: Focused Visit
Team Visit and Decision-Making Processes for Focused Visits
In some respects, the policies and procedures governing focused evaluations are similar to those governing comprehensive evaluations. However, there are a number of significant differences. The first difference involves the role of the evaluation team. A focused visit team does not evaluate whether an institution fulfills the Criteria for Accreditation, nor does it recommend granting, continuing, or denying candidate or accredited status. However, it can recommend sanctions if circumstances warrant and, in very rare situations, withdrawal of status.
Focused visits typically involve two team members for two days. Some unique visits may require several days and several team members. The team’s basic role is to evaluate the areas specified as the focus of the visit and to provide the Commission with a report on developments related to those areas. If matters outside the focus of the visit come to the attention of the team, it notes them, recommending appropriate changes in the institution’s affiliation with the Commission.
Focused visit recommendations go to the Institutional Actions Council for final action.
Filing the Institutional Update
All affiliated institutions are required to complete the Commission’s Institutional Update each year. This report, which is completed online, provides the Commission with up-to-date information on the scope of activities of each affiliated institution and sufficient information to understand and respond to significant shifts in an institution’s capacity and/or scope of educational activities.
In reviewing the Institutional Update, the Commission looks at relationships among a variety of indicators in a given year or over several years. If those relationships suggest that the institution may be experiencing problems or very rapid change, the Commission invites the institution to submit an interpretation of the data.