Midterm report sets goals, aids accreditation

By Roxana Amparo, Associate Editor

To ensure an institution continuously meets its standards while resolving its deficiencies, a midterm accreditation report is a vital piece of the evaluation process.

Accreditation is a self-regulated system that evaluates the overall quality of an institution and encourages continuous improvement, music department Chairperson Wayne Organ said.

“Given that so many of our students are given federal aid, not to be accredited would be the end of the college.

“The state of California invests a lot of money in us and we have to show we are good stewards of those resources —  but we were a lot less efficient before,” Organ, who served as Academic Senate president and was part of the 2014 Accreditation Committee, said.

When a college is accredited, it validates the worth of degree earned at the institution. To regulate the process, a college receives an accreditation visit every five years.

Contra Costa College’s midterm accreditation report was submitted Sept. 30, 2017 to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC) for a review and a follow-up report after its October 2014 accreditation.

Although no recommendations were given to the college from the external team during the last accreditation report in 2014, a self-evaluation report was created by CCC faculty and staff to meet to measure growth and set campus expectations.

Organ said each institution evaluates itself and sets goals to reach for the following ACCJC visit.

“You do it as a way to get better. To me, there is too much work involved in doing an accreditation report to not take it as an opportunity to improve yourself.”

Organ said coming up with goals is a collaborative process that happens in committee discussions and surveys on things that the college needs to work on improving.

According to the Statement of Report Preparation from the midterm accreditation report, the College Council provided final approval of the Midterm Report on April 13, 2017. It was finalized by the Governing Board on June 28, 2017.

Governing Board President Vicki Gordon said each college president from Contra Costa, Los Medanos and Diablo Valley colleges will report back during the next board meeting today.

“It’s about accountability and transparency. It is incredibly important that, in the end, we serve our students. We have to be held accountable,” Gordon said. 

Gordon said accreditation is important for every institution and even for her and her fellow board members to be held accountable for their actions and expectations.

Organ said keeping students in mind was a priority and they were working to simplify the process of accreditation to help students reach their dreams while attending CCC.

Dean of Student Services Vicki Ferguson said they accomplished the Actionable Improvement Plan, which was to develop a process for working with emotionally distressed students.

Teaming up with counselors, Police Services, various academic departments and former CCC vice president Tammeil Gilkerson, the needs for this population, resources and professional training were discussed.

Ferguson said the conversation resulted in the formation of the Behavioral Assessment Team (BAT) and a manual for faculty and staff to work with emotionally distressed students.

The BAT manual was created after the last visit from the accreditation team in October of 2014 and is item IIB3c. in the Accreditation Midterm Report.

Ferguson said the Behavioral Assessment Team is receiving training from the state Chancellor’s Office Mental Health Initiative and developing the Assisting the Emotionally Distressed Student Manual for staff, faculty and administrative use.

“Although the district offers Confidential Services to students who need mental health services, we realized it was not enough,” Ferguson said.