California Assembly Bill 1942, as passed, represents a vote of confidence in the peer evaluation process that is followed by member institutions of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It also represents the heightened interest and concerns of the state for its role in ensuring academic quality and institutional integrity.
The bill directs that certain information be provided to the Legislature to "improve transparency of the accreditation process." It formalizes the transmittal of information to particular committees of the Legislature that has been posted regularly on the ACCJC website and in ACCJC publications, sent to the State Chancellor's Office and to the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, and provided on request to legislative staff and committees.
The additional level of regular notifications to the Legislature can be provided immediately, on request by the Legislature should the bill not be signed.
The ACCJC makes public its summary, "Recent Commission Actions on Institutions," at the time the institutions being reviewed are notified. It also makes public its actions proposing or finalizing changes to policies and Accreditation Standards. All of this information is always published within 30 days of the Commission's January and June meetings where actions are taken.
The same information on actions of the Commission is also published in the ACCJC's spring and summer newsletters. Finally, a Public Disclosure Notice with more detailed information is provided for any institution on Probation or Show Cause through a link that appears at the institution's citation in the online Directory of Accredited Institutions.
For persons who want even more detail, the ACCJC requires member colleges to post their evaluation team reports online "one click away" from the college home page, and we are working with institutions to make sure that these reports can easily be found on the colleges' websites.
The ACCJC welcomes the interest of the Legislature in the quality of public and private community colleges in California, and its greater involvement in addressing the challenges that some colleges must overcome in order to meet quality standards that align with standards of the other regional accrediting commissions and are approved by the U.S. Department of Education.
We hope the process of deliberation on this bill and the provision of regular notifications concerning accreditation actions will help the Legislature as it works with the State Chancellor's Office to find ways to support California community colleges, both those working to meet standards, and the many institutions that regularly have successful accreditation reviews.
Steven Kinsella, ACCJC Chair, is an administrative member of the Commission, and has been president/superintendent at Gavilan College for the last 12 years. Sherrill Amador, ACCJC past chair, is a public member of the commission. Amador began her service on the commission July 1, 2004 after retiring from a 32-year career in community college education.