CA Board of Governors favors plan to establish new accrediting model for community colleges

CCSF nearly lost its accreditation in 2013, but has been granted an extension to meet all accrediting requirements. (Mike Koozmin/2013 S.F.. Examiner)

A plan to establish a new model for accrediting California’s 113 community colleges – including City College of San Francisco – could come as early as next spring.

The California Community Colleges Board of Governors on Monday unanimously approved a resolution declaring the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges no longer meets the needs of the state’s community colleges, and directed state education officials to define a new benchmark for accreditors by the board’s March 2016 meeting.

The resolution stemmed from a recent state chancellor’s office task force report that recommended replacing the state community colleges’ accreditor based on a purported lack of a streamlined, consistent and transparent path for schools to retain their accreditation.

The 2015 Task Force on Accreditation report – released in August and written by community college administrators, faculty, trustees, accreditation liaison officers and others with the state chancellor’s office – marked the strongest indication yet that a new accreditor will be considered after concerns have arisen with the accrediting commission for at least the past eight years.

More recently, 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.

Concerns with the commission have been expressed through legislative action, a state audit and lawsuits. Additionally, between 2009 and 2013 the ACCJC had a sanction rate of more than 50 percent, higher than other regions, according to the resolution presented to the Board of Governors on Monday.

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.

“We took an action to remove the exclusivity of accreditation from one agency already, so now it’s our responsibility…to see what options are there for us to consider,” Board of Governors President Geoffrey Baum said ahead of the board’s unanimous vote to explore alternative accrediting options.

The board, in the resolution, directed California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris through the system’s consultation process to establish a new model for an accrediting agency and implement a timeline for such a plan.

Steven Kinsella, chair of the ACCJC, told the board at Monday’s meeting that much of the findings in the accreditation report are based on “dated information,” and that the report erroneously treats all sanctions as if they are equal.

“The commissioners have made significant changes the standards and policies over the last three to four years,” Kinsella said.

 

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