The myth of ACCJC's “mission of student success” and the unwarranted critique of ACCJC

In his Sunday San Francisco op-ed, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Chairman Steven Kinsella presents accreditation’s mission as being quality assurance for schools so that students and taxpayers are protected from low-quality and fraudulent institutions.


In a sleight-of-hand, the ACCJC equates this description of the legitimate overarching purpose of accreditation with the practice of the ACCJC. Unfortunately for our community, the ACCJC’s actual behavior contravenes this description.

ACCJC bylaws state that its purpose is to be “improving and validating the quality of … education … through the creation and application of standards of accreditation and related policies.”

Has the ACCJC done this? The answer is a resounding NO. Is City College of San Francisco a low-quality or fraudulent institution? Once again, the answer is a resounding NO.

The state chancellor’s data-driven Student Success Scorecard results have confirmed CCSF’s student success. The CCSF scorecard results are substantially above the average.

Even Mayor Ed Lee, an apparent ACCJC booster, came out in a news conference to vouch for the importance, quality and success of CCSF programs.


The ACCJC complains that it is subjected to an “unwarranted critique” and implies that Judge Curtis Karnow had absolved the commission of any substantive wrongdoing. In fact, the court decision stated clearly that it had engaged in “significant unlawful practices.”

ACCJC practices have already been investigated by the state auditor. The state auditor has documented the commission’s unfairness in its report “California Community Colleges Accreditation: Colleges Are Treated Inconsistently and Opportunities Exist for Improvement in the Accreditation Process.”


Both federal regulations and the court order require the ACCJC clearly differentiate between “recommendations for improvement” and “deficiencies.” Yet the April 8 court-mandated written report to CCSF from the ACCJC continues to, knowingly and with malice aforethought, conflate a “recommendation to improve effectiveness” with a “deficiency.”

In doing so, this accrediting agency, with its current leadership, shows that it is incorrigible in its practice of steadfastly violating federal regulations.

Alvin Ja, a San Francisco native, is a City College of San Francisco lifelong learning student and retired Muni railway operator-inspector-instructor.


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