How to Interpret and Apply
the Characteristics of
Excellence: A Framework for
Determining Compliance
Karen Stout, President
Montgomery County Community College
MSCHE Commissioner
Agenda
Overview
 Format of Standards
 Fundamental Elements
 Determining Compliance
 Findings and Follow-up
 Additional Resources

Overview

14 Standards
 Institutional
Context (1-7)
 Educational Effectiveness (8-14)
 Each section ends with a Standard on
assessment
Developed with input from members
 Each member institution demonstrates
compliance in light of its mission

Format of Standards
Standard
 Context
 Fundamental Elements
 Optional Analysis and Evidence

Fundamental Elements
and the Team Visit
Must be viewed in the context of the
institution’s mission and its Self-Study
report
 Help to frame the Team’s questions
 Together, not individually, the
Fundamental Elements constitute and
encompass the Standard
 Not to be used as a simple checklist

Determining Compliance

Consider the institution’s mission and
environment
 What
is the institution trying to accomplish?
 How well are those aims being achieved?
 How is the institution improving aspects of the
institution?

Apply the Standards to the institution using
professional judgment and common sense
Determining Compliance

Does the institution demonstrate sufficient
evidence of compliance with the Standard
under review?
 Does
the Self-Study narrative demonstrate
compliance?
 Do the supporting documents and answers to
interview questions support the claims of the
Self-Study?
 Does the institution have realistic plans for
improvement?
Looking for Evidence
Systematic evidence vs. assertions,
anecdotes, and future plans
 Evidence of consistency across operations
and offerings
 Evidence of current and sustainable
compliance

 Implemented
processes and results
 Structures to ensure sustainability
When in Doubt…
Consider the impact of any gaps or
shortcomings in addressing the Standard
 Does the institution understand the intent
of the Standard?
 Is the institution recognizing and actively
addressing the gaps or shortcomings?

Findings and Follow-Up
Types of Findings
 Significant
Accomplishments,
Progress, or
Exemplary Practices
 Suggestions
 Recommendations
 Requirements
Types of Follow-Up
 5th-year Periodic
Review Reports
 Progress Reports
 Monitoring Reports
 Small Team Visits
Findings and Follow-Up

Significant Accomplishments, Significant
Progress, or Exemplary/Innovative Practices
 No
follow-up required
 Team’s opportunity to highlight institution’s
strengths

Suggestions
 No
follow-up required
 Team’s opportunity to provide collegial advice for
institutional improvement
Recommendations
Actions needed to assure continuing
compliance with the Standards
 Routinely addressed by the institution
through its 5th-year Periodic Review Report
 Team may request earlier follow-up:

 Only
in the Confidential Brief to the Commission
 Progress Report or Monitoring Report
Requirements
Actions needed to achieve compliance with
the Standards
 Team report must indicate “The institution
does not meet this Standard”
 Team must propose an action of warning or
probation:

 Only
in the Confidential Brief to the Commission
 Must be tied to specific Standards
Additional Resources
Characteristics of Excellence
 Team Visits
 Range of Commission Actions on
Accreditation
 Your evaluation team chair and team
members
 The Middle States Vice President
assigned to the host institution

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How to Interpret and Apply the Characteristics of Excellence: A