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Contact: Jay Thompson (805) 546-3100, ext. 2636 FAX (805) 546-3921 Feb. 6, 2012 Cuesta College Institutional Advancement/ Marketing & Communications San Luis Obispo, CA 93403-8106 Email: email@example.com
FAQ on Cuesta¶s accreditation status
What is accreditation? Accreditation is the process for evaluating and assuring the quality of education used by the higher educational community. Cuesta College¶s accreditation is issued and re-evaluated by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which has accredited Cuesta since Jan. 1, 1968. The Bottom line: A student¶s course work at any accredited college is transferable to any other accredited educational institutions; accreditation assures that the quality of education meets minimum standards. What is the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges? The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges accredits associate degree-granting institutions in the Western region of the United States ² California, Hawaii and a few other locations. ACCJC operates under the corporate entity, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. ACCJC is one of seven regional accrediting commissions. The accrediting organization is authorized to operate by the U.S. Department of Education through the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. Has Cuesta College lost its accreditation? No. Cuesta College remains a fully accredited community college. Appropriate course work by Cuesta students is transferable to other accredited institutions. What is Cuesta College¶s current accreditation status? Cuesta College has been placed on ³Show Cause´ status. The college was placed on ³Warning´ status (January 2009) followed by being placed on ³Probation´ (January 2010). In January of 2011, the commission continued Cuesta¶s ³Probation´ status, while noting that it had completely satisfied some recommendations, and made progress on others. The accrediting commission is required by the U.S. Department of Education to not allow deficiencies to continue for more than two years. If concerns are not resolved within this period, the commission can take action to terminate accreditation. What is ³Show Cause´ status? When the accrediting commission finds an institution to be in substantial non-compliance with its eligibility requirements, standards or policies, or when it has not responded to the imposed conditions, the accreditation commission may require an institution to show cause why its accreditation should not be withdrawn at the end of a specified period. During this time, an institution is subject to reports and extra visits to be determined by the commission. During this Show Cause period, the institution remains accredited. What are the specific deficiencies identified by the accrediting commission regarding Cuesta College? The Show Cause was ordered for Cuesta College for perceived deficiencies imbedded within the three recommendations that remain from the 2009 Commission action. Many of the specific subparts of the recommendations have already been fully satisfied. According to the ACCJC, these areas were cited: Planning and Assessment Cuesta needs to complete its strategic plan, institute ongoing systematic evaluation process that communicates and clarifies the assessment tools used to measure the effectiveness of ongoing planning, program review, resource allocation processes and student learning outcomes.
Technology Resources The college need to establish a process for regular and systematic planning, acquisition, maintenance and replacement of its technology infrastructure, existing and newly acquired technology and equipment to meet institutional needs; and that process needs to be integrated with other college planning, assessment and resource allocation. Financial Planning and Stability Cuesta needs to review and assess long-range financial and capital planning strategies to ensure sufficient resources for ongoing operations. The team also recommends that the college and Cuesta College Foundation review and communicate the fiscal status of investments and implement appropriate protections to secure fiscal solvency. Why does Cuesta have to prepare a formal plan to close? While Cuesta works to reaffirm its accreditation, the commission directed the college to make preliminary preparations for closure, which is an ACCJC requirement that accompanies the ³Show Cause´ status. If Cuesta were to lose its accreditation, a likely result would be the loss of state and federal funds, including all general fund and categorical apportionment monies, financial aid and maintenance funds. Although technically, the district could remain a legal entity, loss of funding could have the same effect as closing the institution. Cuesta is taking every step and precaution to address the commission¶s recommendations so that the institution will demonstrate why its accreditation should be continued. However, because of the parallel requirement to address the commission¶s policy on closing an institution, the closure report is being taken seriously, and a report will be submitted. The closure plan will ensure that students¶ interests are protected. What happens next? Cuesta will continue to work to reaffirm its accreditation. The college will work with ACCJC staff to determine the specific remaining deficiencies, identify resources to develop and implement our plan of action (e.g., utilize consultants who have special expertise in completing the accreditation process.) The college must submit a report in October addressing each of the accreditation commission¶s concerns. ACCJC officials will visit the campus in November and the full commission will issue their findings in January 2013. The college must reaffirm its accreditation by that time.