Clark Atlanta University was originally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in 1988 and was last reaffirmed in 2006. Accreditation by SACSCOC allows our students to have access to federally subsidized financial aid and ensures that CAU courses and degrees will be recognized regionally and nationally. A successful reaffirmation is essential to our ability to function as an institution of higher education, and it is also an opportunity to engage in a campus-wide self-assessment.
The reaffirmation process has changed significantly since our 2006 SACSCOC visit. The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement, which went into effect in January 2004, require institutions to demonstrate compliance with fewer and less prescriptive standards that focus on goals and outcomes as measures of effectiveness. The Principles are based on four key elements:
With the new Principles the first change was the requirement to submit a Fifth-Year Interim Report and QEP Impact Report in spring 2012. For our next decennial reaffirmation we will submit a Compliance Certification Report (CCR) addressing all of the 90+ standards as well as a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) based on the latest edition of the Principles. The CCR will be reviewed mainly by an off-site committee and the spring 2016 on-site visit will focus mainly on the QEP.
In the Compliance Certification Report, we will present a clear and compelling case for compliance with each of the standards based on analysis of reliable, relevant and representative supporting data. Members of the Compliance Team will gather documentation from each administrative and academic unit. This collaborative effort will need everyone's help and assistance to assure our success.
The CCR follows a standard format that includes a narrative statement with links to supporting documents, but it's up to us to "make the case" for compliance based on CAU's mission, vision and strategic plan. We will prepare and submit our report in electronic format.
The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) will describe a focused, well-defined activity to be undertaken by Clark Atlanta University over a five year period and that addresses a topic or issue related to enhancing student learning. The QEP process ensures broad participation throughout the University in the identification and selection of a topic. After the reaffirmation process, CAU will oversee the implementation of the QEP and will report its full impact on the University in the next Fifth-Year Interim Report.
Our new QEP will be a forward-looking document describing changes the university will implement to improve student learning outcomes in a particular area. The topic, based on our strategic plan and institutional program reviews, will be chosen after soliciting from constituents across the university.