By Ivan Cazares
Representatives of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) were given a tour of the campus by Associated Student Union board members yesterday, to help with their evaluation of the school. An open forum to talk to the accrediting team was held last night and it will present a summary of its findings tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the G3 Foyer.
“Accreditation is an opportunity for our colleges and district to demonstrate how we are meeting the standards of our accrediting body,” Los Angeles Community College District Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez said in an email addressed to faculty and staff.
All nine colleges in the district are being accredited. There are 10 accreditation teams, nine are signed to individual colleges and one is assigned to the district office.
The accreditation team does not make the final decision. The team will present a written evaluation report and present it to ACCJC. Community colleges are currently accredited by private educational associations like ACCJC. Associations must be reviewed and approved by the Department of Education.
The team led by President of San Diego Mesa College Pam Luster was greeted at the Vincent Price Art Museum.
“We are here to confirm what was put in writing in the self evaluation (ELAC’s),” Luster said.
The purpose of accreditation is to ensure that institutions of higher education provide students with an education that meets acceptable levels of quality, according to the United States Department of Education.
The diplomas and certificates of a non-accredited school aren’t recognized by most employers or universities
“It’s a peer review. They are here to help,” East Los Angeles College President Marvin Martinez said. Martinez has led accreditation teams in the past.
Luster said her favorite part of the visit is talking to students at other campuses,“I’ve probably interrogated every student I’ve bumped into about their majors.” She explained that members an accrediting team are assigned to review sections in a college’s self-evaluation they are experts in. She added that her insight into the way a large college works lets her provide productive feedback and that she’ll use what she learns at ELAC when her college is accredited.
Luster said it’s important that the accreditation process is handled by peers. The team visiting ELAC includes President of Santiago Canyon College John Weispfenning, Dean of the School of Business and Technology at San Diego Mesa College Danene Brown and Jeffrey Stephenson, Dean of Counseling and Student Services at American River College.
The National Advisory Commission for Institutional Quality and integrity concluded that ACCJC does not meet federal standards in a review in conducted in December 2015. On Jan. 4 the Department of Education declared ACCJC noncompliant. It will allow ACCJC to operate as a recognized accreditation association for 12 months. ACCJC will be reevaluated after 12 months.