TVCC receives initial accreditation feedback

More than 75 faculty and staff turned out for last Friday’s exit report with the team who had been on campus last week to assess Treasure Valley Community College’s accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Community Colleges and Universities.

In sharing the results of the three-day accreditation review, Dr. Jeff Wagnitz, the chairman of the accreditation committee team, gave several introductory comments and complemented the College on its work to prepare for the review, as well as the organization and collegiality during the visit.

During the exit report, the chairman presents the initial commendations and recommendations. Final recommendations will be presented in a written report sent in the next month. At that time, TVCC has the opportunity to review the accreditation team’s findings and correct any errors of fact in the review.

TVCC President Dr. Dana Young will join Dr. Wagnitz in January at the NWCCU Commission meeting in Bellevue, Wash., where the findings will be presented for consideration and final approval of re-accreditation next steps will be discussed.

In his comments, Dr. Wagnitz, who is Vice President of Academics Affairs at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Wash., likened the visit to TVCC as being a sailor the day after a storm.

As an amateur sailor in the Puget Sound, Wagnitz said the clear day after a storm is the reason he loves sailing. “No one loves the stormy sea and when you’re in it, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would enjoy doing this,” he said. “But after the storm passes, and the sky is clear and the water is calming, it’s spectacular.”

He went on to say, “That’s a little how it feels to be at the College right now. We know you’ve gone through some rough times, and to continue my analogy, some stormy seas, but we were struck by the optimism we saw and heard, and it’s a little like you’re coming out of the clouds and moving to forward with a clear sky.”

He also complemented the College on all of the great work that has been accomplished in the past few years, including a new Science Center, new funding for a Career & Technical Education Center and the TVCC Caldwell Center, all despite tight budget times and increased competition for enrollment.

With that brief introduction, he presented the following commendations and recommendations to those in attendance:

Commendations
1. The evaluation committee commends the college for demonstrating resilience by maintaining its focus on students even while faced with enrollment declines and several years of significant budget and staffing challenges.

2. The evaluation committee commends the college for its strong commitment to serving the community and building partnerships. As evidenced through events, outreach, and training delivered (for example, the Center for Business Workforce and Community Learning and, serving local needs through the Caldwell Center, SRCI, among many other examples). In this work, the College is actively supported by its foundation.

3. The evaluation committee commends the college for its needful and intentional integration of the associated government into shared government and institutional planning.

Recommendations
1. While Treasure Valley Community College has defined its general education, program, and course level outcomes, and has established a general education outcomes assessment tool, the evaluation committee did not find evidence of a consistent systematic approach to mapping student learning outcomes at all levels (from program to degree to department to course) in using the results of the assessment to improve instructional quality and learning. The committee recommends that the faculty and administration collaboratively develop a systematic and consistent approach to assessing student learning outcomes at the general education and at the course level. Such an approach should:
        A. Train faculty in defining and assessing student learning outcomes at all levels and across all departments.
        B. Develop consistent reporting and follow up mechanisms that demonstrate how the results of student learning assessments
inform the planning processes and subsequently improve instruction and contribute to mission fulfillment.

2. Because Treasure Valley Community College has continued to revise its Core Theme objectives, indicators, metrics, and threshold mission fulfillment over several assessment cycles including the current years, the evaluation committee found that the College is unable at this time to determine mission fulfillment for the purposes of institutional effectiveness. The committee recommends the TVCC hasten its anticipated core theme revision, implement it and use the results to guide the colleges planning processes and contribute to mission fulfillment.

3. Although Treasure Valley Community College engages in a number of planning processes, and has established tools to track planning related activities at the department level, the College has not demonstrated that its institutional planning activities are driven by reliable and valuable data consistently, integrated with one another, consistently used to set priorities, or widely understood. In light of the environmental challenges facing Treasure Valley Community College the evaluation committee recommends that at its earliest opportunity the college review and revise its institutional planning processes to ensure that collectively they support effective strategic decision making.

4. While recognizing the resilience and flexibility of TVCC staff and faculty, the evaluation committee found evidence that employee turnover and shortages were hampering the timely accomplishment of essential functions in some cases. The evaluation committee recommends an evaluation of the sustainability of current staffing models and the organizational capacity for succession planning.

5. Although Treasure Valley Community Colleges governance structures are comprehensive and well documented, (you can see where the councils are and the different groups set out are very clear what the structure is) the evaluation committee found that not every constituent group understands how these processes function. The evaluation committee recommends that the college review its expectation of shared governance, to improve transparency and dialogue clarify the decision making and operational roles of different constituent groups, and encourage collegial, college wide engagement of all constituencies.

After the Commission accepts the final report in January, the documents will be posted on the TVCC website for public view and will be used as part of the next steps in addressing the recommendations presented to the College.