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HLC Accreditation 2020
HLC Tools and Resources

HLC Tools and Resources


What does HLC stand for?
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is part of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The HLC is one of six regional institutional accreditation agencies in the United States and was founded in 1895. The North Central region includes Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.  

How often does WCCCD go through the accreditation process?  Every ten years (if there are no significant findings).

What does HLC look for when it accredits colleges and universities?
In 2003, the Higher Learning Commission adopted a set of five new criteria for accreditation that went into effect in. The new criteria are:

  1. Mission
  2. Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
  3. Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support
  4. Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
  5. Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness

More detailed articulation of these criteria and examples of evidence that would support their various “core components” can be found in the HLC Handbook of Accreditation.

Why is accreditation important?

  • Ensures the quality and integrity of WCCCD's programs and services.
  • Allows students to transfer credits to other accredited colleges and universities.
  • Enables students to obtain financial aid and veteran's services.
  • Allows the college to participate in projects funded by federal grants.
  • Ensures that the college can recruit and retain quality faculty and staff.

What exactly is an assurance argument aka self-study?
The self study is a two-year process that revolves around three extremely important questions: Are we doing what we say we are doing? What are our strengths and our challenges? How can we position ourselves for the future?

What is the purpose of the assurance argument (aka, self-study)?
The assurance argument is a voluntary peer review process that provides colleges with the impetus to critically evaluate their purposes and whether those purposes are being achieved. The accreditation process culminates with the publication of a self-study report and a campus visit by a team of consultant-evaluators.

What is meant by "evidence" in the self-study process, and who is responsible for gathering it?
Evidence is any kind of supporting data to be used in the assurance argument: institutional facts and statistics, numbers, records, survey results, expert opinion, examples, explanations, reasoning, predictions, experience, and even history. Evidence is the proof or confirmation that supports a claim as to how well WCCCD is addressing a component of the criterion or section.  All members of the college community assist Criterion/Section Team Leaders, Writing Coaches, and Resource Team in data collection, information gathering, and drafting responses to the questions that arise from the HLC criteria for accreditation.

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