Update from the Accreditation Workgroup: December 2022

Accreditation Workgroup Updates

There are two major areas of focus for the NCC Accreditation Workgroup as we wrap up 2022 and head into 2023.

Piloting the Accreditation Process

Western Carolina University’s University Participant (UP) program is the first pilot site working on their self-study. The self-study requires program director Dr. Kelly Kelley and her graduate assistant Reagan Wallace to identify the program data that relates to the 38 program standards in the 10 standard areas. They are working to gather links, documents, policies and lists (e.g., enrolled students, graduates) that provide a landscape of the program and evidence related to how the program is addressing each standard. A small group of accreditation workgroup members meet with Dr. Kelley weekly to discuss the process and identify areas that need clarification or further consideration.

Four additional pilot sites are currently being recruited. You can indicate your interest by visiting the link and completing a short form. We plan to work with the remainder of the selected pilot sites throughout 2023.

In addition to piloting the accreditation process with college programs, we are partnering with WEAVE, a higher education software solutions company, to create a user-friendly interface for programs to use to upload all accreditation related documents and narratives. We are hopeful that WEAVE will be a long-term solution to managing the accreditation process for programs for students with ID.

Establishing an Accrediting Agency

The former 2015-2020 NCC Accreditation Workgroup determined that no current accrediting agency exists that could meet all our needs. Therefore, the accreditation workgroup and Think College NCC staff are working to build the infrastructure and operationalize the framework for a new program accreditation agency that will specialize in the accreditation of programs for students with intellectual disability. We plan to apply for national recognition of the new agency by 2025.

The Importance of Accreditation

While accreditation is not necessarily a glamorous endeavor, it is a worthy and important one. Being in the world of higher education requires that we pay attention to what’s important to colleges and universities as well as students--who are our ultimate customers in education. We want to make sure that we are offering education that is meaningful and is taking people into the future. Program accreditation is one of the concrete ways we can do this. Ensuring that we are bringing value to students who are currently attending programs is an essential part of this program ‘self-evaluation’ process. Being evaluated by one’s peers helps us to focus on collective quality improvement as a field. Program accreditation elevates expectations for all of us.