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New Accreditation Standards and Process Offer ISU New Opportunities to Shine

April 19, 2021

New Standards and New Expectations.

Idaho State University’s (ISU) accreditation team is in the process of completing its Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) Year 7 self-study report.  The new standards and processes the NWCCU adopted in 2020 have resulted in some significant changes from ISU’s last submitted self-study in 2014.   

Changing The Standards

The NWCCU significantly changed its accreditation standards and its performance expectations.  Instead of the five standards, as ISU  reported on in 2014, there are now only two; Standard 1 (Student Success and Institutional Mission and Effectiveness) and Standard 2 (Governance, Resources, and Capacity).  The NWCCU both simplified the report but also elevated its expectations of the University.

Standard 1 is broken into four areas: mission fulfillment, governance, student learning, and student achievement. The five areas of Parts A and B (mission fulfillment and Governance) focus on how the University demonstrates its mission fulfillment and the effectiveness of governance and planning. While the nine areas of Part C examine the methods the University uses to determine the success of student learning outcomes and how it uses those outcomes for program improvement. Part D’s four areas examine the University’s accomplishments toward supporting student achievement.

Standard 2 still requires the University to explain how it implements processes, procedures, policies, and aligns planning, then requires the University to demonstrate the effectiveness of those areas. Standard 2 has minimal changes between 2010 and 2020.    

A significant change from the 2010 standards is how the NWCCU now measures success.  To achieve success, the University must demonstrate how it integrates disaggregated data into planning processes to close race, ethnicity, and financial equity gaps, and how its continuous improvement cycle achieves long-term sustainability.  The key to accomplish both expectations is being able to back up the reports’ words with solid outcomes based on quantitative and qualitative data. These outcomes are demonstrated through ISU’s Core Theme indicators that measure mission fulfillment, the reports Institutional Research generates, the development and execution of policies and processes and the development and implementation of plans.

Process Change. The process change that occurred as part of the NWCCU’s 2020 standards updates split the self-study report into a Year 6 (Standard 2) and Year 7 (Standard 1) set of reports and adjusted their submission dates.  The Year 6 report is now due the year before the Year 7 report.  This change relieves some of the accreditation team’s pressure because simultaneously producing both reports requires a great deal of time and effort and splits the team’s focus.  However, due to NWCCU’s transition to its new reporting cycle, ISU had to wait and instead will submit its Year 6 report concurrently with its Year 7 report in early August 2021. ISU’s next seven-year cycle will follow the new reporting periods.