The Commission maintains processes for determining eligibility for accreditation, for achieving candidacy status, for achieving initial accreditation, and for maintaining accreditation. The Commission currently offers two programs for maintaining accreditation: the Program to Evaluate and Advance Quality (PEAQ) and the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP). In September 2012, the Commission begins a three-year transition during which PEAQ will be replaced by two new Pathways, the Standard Pathway and the Open Pathway.
Review the Standard Pathway Booklet for more information. (New as of March 2013)
Review the Open Pathway Booklet for more information. (New as of March 2013)
(AQIP has been in operation since 1999. It will continue as another pathway for maintaining accreditation and will remain substantially unchanged for the foreseeable future.)
Information about Moving Between Pathways.
Introduction to Pathways
Regional accreditation assures quality by verifying that an institution (1) meets threshold standards and (2) is engaged in continuous improvement. Both the Standard and Open Pathway feature: a ten-year cycle, a focus on both assurance and improvement, Assurance Reviews in Years 4 and 10, and the use of the HLC electronic Assurance System. All Commission Pathways require: annual filing of the Institutional Update, annual monitoring of financial and non-financial indicators, and adherence to Commission policies and practices on institutional change.
Assurance System Update
All institutions in the Standard and Open Pathways will use the Commission’s online Assurance System to upload and link evidentiary materials to their Assurance Arguments, which make the case for how the institution meets the Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation. The Assurance System is discussed in greater detail in the Commission’s Open Pathway booklet. Three groups of “Pioneer” institutions have assisted the Commission in developing various aspects of Pathways. Institutions transition to the Standard or Open Pathway according to the transition maps available in the booklet.
Institutions will gain access to the Assurance System according to this schedule:
Pioneer Cohort #1 September 2012
Pioneer Cohort #2 December 2012
Pioneer Cohort #3 May 2013
All Remaining Institutions September 2013
Live training webinars will be available for institutions during the month in which they are granted access to the Assurance System and recorded versions will remain available “on-demand” along with other online help systems after that time. The schedule of webinars will be posted on the Commission’s website in the near future. The Commission will also provide opportunities for hands-on experiences at the Annual Conference, April 5-9, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
Quality Initiative Update
The Open Pathway requires an institution to designate one major improvement effort it has undertaken as its Quality Initiative for reaffirmation of accreditation. The Quality Initiative should suit the institution’s present concerns or aspirations. It takes place between years 5 and 9 of the10-year Open Pathway Cycle. A Quality Initiative may begin and be completed during this time or it may continue an initiative already in progress or achieve a key milestone in the work of a longer initiative. The Quality Initiative falls entirely outside the Assurance Process.
The Quality Initiative Proposal Process Packet provides information for institutions submitting Quality Initiative proposals and Peer Reviewers in reviewing the proposals. The following documents are included:
– Overview of the Quality Initiative Proposal Process
– Quality Initiative Institutional Proposal Template
– Quality Initiative Proposal Panel Review Instructions
– Quality Initiative Proposal Panel Review Form
Important Note Regarding Support for Pathways
The Pathways procedures and systems are designed to be user-friendly and self-contained. The Assurance System has many built-in features to help in the process of preparing for accreditation reviews. The Commission provides access to the Assurance System to member institutions at no additional charge. Institutions need not purchase or use any additional software or services; the Assurance System is all that is needed. Institutions may at their sole discretion choose on their own to use other software to help organize or conduct various processes related to their accreditation. No software will have a direct link to the Assurance System.
Similarly, institutions do not need the assistance of outside consultants, programs, or services in order to fulfill the expectations of the Quality Initiative in the Open Pathway.
Resources from the Commission on Pathways are shown at the right of this page. The 2013 Annual Conference will feature extensive programming on the Open, Standard, and AQIP Pathways. In addition, the Commission will announce optional webinars and online videos to support the Standard and Open Pathways in the near future.