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UPDATE: Report urges new accreditor for California community colleges

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The 2015 Task Force on Accreditation report, commissioned by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, was released Friday. Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner 2014 file photo

City College of San Francisco supporters are calling for a new accreditor as recommended in a report released Friday, but to the chagrin of some, that process could take up to a decade.

The 2015 Task Force on Accreditation report, released Friday by a state chancellor’s office task force to address concerns with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, urges community college leaders to replace the state’s accreditor for 113 community colleges.

The report, written by community college administrators, faculty, trustees, accreditation liaison officers and others with the state chancellor’s office, is possibly the strongest indication yet that the process of seeking a new accreditor will be considered after concerns have arisen with the accrediting commission for at least the past eight years.

The process of replacing the sole accreditor for community colleges in California could take up to 10 years, said Paul Feist, a spokesman for the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.

But some believe that timeline is too long.

“The system is basically saying we don’t have confidence in the accreditor anymore, and it’s from a whole bunch of constituency groups inside the community college system,” said Tim Killikelly, president of CCSF’s faculty union AFT 2121.

“To then have some long drawn out process…that’s not a good situation. They need to move it as quickly as possible and make sure we can get a fair accreditation system in place,” he added.

Last year, the commission sought to revoke accreditation for CCSF in 2013, a move that was blocked first by a lawsuit against the commission and then when a new policy was announced that gives CCSF until January 2017 to meet all accrediting requirements.

CCSF remains open and fully accredited today.

In addition to delving into purported flaws with the ACCJC – namely that the commission should provide a more streamlined, consistent and transparent path for schools to retain their accreditation – the report examines why it’s time for California community colleges to seek a new accreditor.

Developments like a pilot program approved last year that allows 15 community colleges to offer four-year degrees for the first time are why the community college system would benefit from collaborating more closely with four-year colleges and universities, particularly when it comes to accreditation, the report states.

The state chancellor’s office should evaluate other possible accrediting agents and recommend a related course of action to the Board of Governors by next spring, according to the report.

The ACCJC is currently the only organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit California community colleges, though it is no longer referenced by name in the state chancellor’s office regulations.

Rafael Mandelman, president of CCSF’s board of trustees, said Friday’s report means the state chancellor’s office could very well take steps to seek a new accreditor.

“I think it’s significant,” Mandelman said of the report. “The state chancellor’s office has been trying to make it work with the ACCJC for a very long time… I think it’s remarkable that the state chancellor’s office is now indicating a willingness…to look at other options.”

California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris said in a statement Friday that he generally agrees with the findings in the report and will discuss its recommendations with the Board of Governors.

Meanwhile, ACCJC President Barbara Beno said in a statement Friday that the commission was “carefully reviewing” the report.

“The Commission’s mission has remained the same for more than 50 years: assess member college’s academics, finances, facilities, technology, and governance to point out deficiencies and provide recommendation and guidance to help colleges excel,” Beno said. “The ACCJC is committed to supporting the best higher education in the Western Region.”

Click here to read the 2015 Chancellor’s Office Task Force Report on Accreditation.

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