Academic institutions are required to get accredited. Our team at APL nextED recognizes that accreditation is a long process and requires a good strategy. Accreditation provides the opportunity to evaluate progress, reflect on work that has been done, and make new plans to improve student learning. Accreditation preparation should take four years in order to ensure that all the data is collected and presented in a way that reaches the standards of the accreditors.
Four years before presenting the data to the accreditors, it is crucial to create a plan for collecting accreditation data. Most accreditors require three years of data when documentation is submitted. Therefore, starting work to collect data four years in advance will ensure the minimum data that needs to be collected. Having a plan as to what is going to be collected, from whom, and when is the first task that should take place to prepare well.
Another thing to prepare for is unforeseen challenges. The greatest challenge in this first year is that sometimes colleagues assume that these activities for accreditation are not their responsibility. A potential way to deal with this issue is to plan meetings that explain the importance of these activities.
Once the plan is set, it is time to execute. The three years prior to presenting should be spent in preparation. In order to execute the plan, one must be aware of three important tasks:
- Collect high quality and consistent data
- Know all the standards the accreditors have set
- Make sure to assemble committees and establish processes
Some obstacles during this time could be resistant faculty participation and poor data collection. An adequate Academic Operations Platform (AOP) can help with collecting years worth of data while making it effortless for the faculty. Executing the plan for accreditation requires working with the faculty to accomplish goals in an efficient way.
Two years before the presentation it is required to write a narrative and collect all documentation for the final product. A rough draft should be completed that can be assessed by colleagues before the final product.
The greatest challenge during this stage would be falling behind in the report or realizing something is missing from the documents.
Lastly, during year four is when the regional accreditors visit to assess the final documents.
Prepare for a long process to acquire accreditation. It is important to tap into resources that can streamline and simplify the process such as an AOP.
If your institution is not currently using a platform to track data in one system, schedule a demo with our sales team to learn how APL nextED can assist with your institution’s accreditation preparations.