It has been a very busy summer for the Steering Committee and the chairs of the self-study. There have been several meetings since the Spring semester, and a great deal of progress has been made with the self-study report. The chairs of individual committees completed their narratives and presented them to the Steering Committee so additional edits could be made. A major challenge was cutting down the narratives to fit within the 10,000 character limit. A checklist was recently compiled that highlights outstanding items that must be collected. The remaining documentation has been organized and anything outstanding has been accounted for. All information is continuously being updated in the online AAMS system. The chairs of the Steering Committee are currently making the final edits of the self-study report. There is a Faculty Council meeting scheduled for October where the full report will be presented and faculty will have the opportunity to offer suggestions. A forum will also take place in September where students are encouraged to participate. The goal is to include all stakeholders in this process. A mock site visit is scheduled for December so potential issues can be identified and corrected prior to the official site visit in April.
Category Archives: Accreditation
The Spring semester has come to a close but the self-study process will continue throughout the summer. There will be several Steering Committee meetings scheduled for June, July and August. The members of individual committees have completed the second draft of their self-study narratives. A great deal of the necessary documentation has also been compiled. Each committee chair has presented their report to the Steering Committee and this information is currently being uploaded to the online database, AAMS. The next step will involve the Steering Committee putting together the full self-study report for faculty approval. The faculty will review and revise this draft prior to the final submission to ACPE. There are nine months left until the ACPE site visit but a great deal of progress has already been made.
The self-study process for the College of Pharmacy is in full-swing! The Steering Committee will be meeting throughout the Spring semester. Individual committees are continuing to compile their documentation and write their individual narratives to be used in the creation of the self-study report. A representative from each committee has been assigned a specific meeting where they will present their report. The Committee on Internal and External Facilities, the Committee on Assessment and Outcomes, the Committee on Faculty Affairs, and the Committee on Library and Learning Resources have recently presented.
A luncheon was held in December with a group of invited students to share their input in the self-study process. There was a large turnout with approximately 35 PharmD students in attendance. The students provided a great deal of useful feedback that will be distributed to the Steering Committee. This information will be used in the self-study process as including all stakeholders is a priority.
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is holding its annual meeting in Washington DC and we are here. As we listened to the plenary talks and met other folks in higher ed, I wondered if it was as apparent to others as it is to us why our assessment team is here?
As an assessment group we spend a lot of our time thinking of ways to link the fantastic work of our faculty and students to measurable outcomes. The work that it takes to define what is to be measured, how it will be measured, and how it will be fed back into improving the educational environment or back to the student is far more taxing than the actual measuring itself once we have a plan. As a group we work with all of our stakeholders to determine what plan is best for our students and faculty. While we do that, we look to see how we can feed these results back into the loop to assure our accrediting body that we are doing what we set out to achieve.
At the institutional level, MSCHE is that accrediting body, and like many higher education accrediting bodies, it is made of higher education faculty and administrators. In short: it is us. Middle States is rolling out new standards and unsurprisingly those standards reflect many of its stakeholders aspirations and challenges for higher education. As a faculty member working in the trenches, splitting time between research, teaching, and scholarship it is a challenge to take the time to measure how that effort contributes to the good that higher education provides. It is difficult to see what society expects from higher education institutions and how they are reacting to our work. Taking the time to listen to the accrediting body that credits us as a degree granting institution and meeting with other stakeholders, provides a moment for faculty to pause and reflect on where higher education is today and where it may be going.
As I listened to the talks and the crowd, I thought about how important it is for faculty to reflect upon the mission of their institution, but also their own goals as a teacher, scholar, and educator. If we are to have an impact in a meaningful way, we must take time to think carefully as to what we can reasonably achieve and what society wants and expects of us.
So why should faculty attend an annual accreditor’s meeting?
As I listened to one of the talks a speaker paused for a second and noted that faculty should be able to describe what the standards are. The standards? “Those esoteric rules and chains that we are held to”, I thought. And then it struck me that, yes, we really should be able to. In fact if the standards are any good, they should aim to quantify the very characteristics that drew us to higher education in the first place. The standards serve as a description of the good that a degree can provide to a student and the good that an institution can provide to society.
The self-study open forums that were scheduled for the fall semester concluded this week. These forums were well-attended by students, faculty, preceptors and administrators. The goal was that all stakeholders would have the opportunity to take part in the self-study process by actively participating in the open forums. The steering committee is creating a survey that will be sent to all faculty now that the forums have concluded. This survey will focus on the gap analyses (areas in standards that are not being met) that were presented by each committee chairperson. The next steering committee meeting is scheduled for today, October 6th. Items on the agenda are the survey, gap analyses, and college bylaws. It is the steering committee’s hope that these self-study forums have increased transparency of the process as a whole. The surveys will allow faculty to provide increased and necessary feedback as the process unfolds.
The College is currently in the middle of a series of self-study open forums, organized by the steering committee for PharmD accreditation. These open forums are geared toward all stakeholders and are organized by individual standing committees of the college. At our first meeting, both the Committee on Assessment and Outcomes and the Committee on Mission, Planning, Evaluation; Organization and Administration presented their gap analyses, complete with each committee’s views regarding whether or not particular standards are currently being met. This Wednesday 9/24, the Curriculum Committee, Student Affairs Committee and Committee on Internal and External Facilities will all be presenting.
These sessions are open to all stakeholders, including faculty, students, alumni, administrators and preceptors. As we move further into our self-study process and get deeper into the planning stages, these forums serve as our stakeholders’ first opportunities to really become involved and have their voices heard. Self-study is an essential and important time for our PharmD program and college. If you are a student, faculty, preceptor or administrator, feel free to come to these meetings to make sure you are as connected to the process as possible.
There’s no doubt that the burden of student loan debt is holding back the financial progress of a whole generation of young people. As inspiring as it is to hear the federal government is attempting to “empower consumers with fresh information [and] pressure colleges to keep costs down,” Obama’s College Rating Plan has raised some controversy. Per The Chronicle of Higher Education’s articles titled Obama Plan to Tie Student Aid to College Ratings Draws Mixed Reviews and 4 Key Questions Experts Are Asking About Obama’s College-Ratings Plan, the plan requires more consideration to avoid unintended consequences.
The Obama administration is proposing to create a ratings system for colleges based on “measures of access, affordability, and student outcomes, and to allocate [federal] aid based on those ratings” in time for the 2015 academic year. Per Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, “If you want to condition the receipt of student aid on this information, you have an obligation to have perfect data.” This is of absolute significance as some data proposed to be used by the administration is inaccurate, missing, or incomplete.
Unfortunately, rating systems used by the Education Department’s College Scorecard are currently labeling colleges with inaccurate graduation rates as these rates “include only first-time, full-time students.” In addition, considering the earning of college graduates as a measure to rate colleges is of concern because this data may unfairly penalize small regional institutions whose graduates serve their communities with low paying salaries. Community colleges are particularly concerned because they have higher transfer rates than graduation rates since these schools inherently function as “vehicles for students to transfer to four-year colleges.” These are all viable concerns and one can only hope a compromise between providing consumer-friendly information and holding institutions accountable can be agreed upon.
Transparency in Assessment holds significant importance for all its stakeholders (see our Higher Education Assessment’s post, titled Culture of Assessment: Are We There Yet?). Certain levels of transparency must exist for all prospective students to make informed decisions on selecting an affordable institution. An investment in the next generation of higher education is long overdue. Per President Obama, it is “time to stop subsidizing schools that are not producing good results, and reward schools that deliver for American students and our future.”
Both advocates and opponents of the College Ratings plan realize the importance of cautiously selecting measures to base its ratings on. Even if the plan to tie student aid to college ratings does not come into fruition, it is still “a powerful incentive for institutions to pay attention to outcomes.” In order to improve the health of the US economy and improve the well-being of the current generation dealing with student loan debt, something must be done to ensure the infrastructure of higher education improves.