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Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP)

The Higher Learning Commission transferred CLC to the Open Pathway for accreditation in fall 2018 as part of their larger plan to phase out the AQIP pathway from all institutions.

Despite the transition, HLC and the College of Lake County remain committed to continuous quality improvement efforts. As such, the college plans to continue conducting annual improvement projects internally in the spirit of AQIP.

About AQIP

In spring 2002, the College of Lake County Board of Trustees approved the College’s participation in the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), a Continuous Improvement model of accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The aim of this program is to achieve positive institutional change through a culture of continuous improvement. To remain eligible for accreditation under the AQIP pathway, the college must meet several obligations during its 8-year accreditation cycle. Those requirements compel the college to provide the HLC with periodic assessments and reports, to participate in two planning sessions facilitated by the HLC, and to undertake at least three significant improvement projects each year. The college selects its improvement projects through a collaborative, deliberative process of assessing areas essential to the college’s mission statement. The college’s students, faculty, staff, administration and Board are engaged in this selection process. Project teams, composed of faculty and staff, are responsible for planning and implementing the Action Projects.

Systems Portfolios and Systems Appraisals

Twice during the 8-year accreditation cycle, institutions file an assessment document called a Systems Portfolio. In these documents, institutions compile and report evidence that that demonstrate how they are meeting the HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation. These Criteria are the indicators or academic quality, financial stability, continuous improvement efforts and governance that each college or university must meet in order to remain accredited. The institutions provide evidence on how they meet each criterion through continuous self-assessment, planning, and improvement. They explain how they use data to inform their decision making. A peer review team evaluates these Portfolios and identifies strengths and opportunities for improvement in a report called a Systems Appraisal.

Comprehensive Quality Review

The HLC will be conducting a Comprehensive Quality Review site visit in March 2017. The college’s last visit was in 2009. These visits are a normal part of the accreditation process and occur twice during the 8-year accreditation cycle. Through these visits, trained reviewers ensure that each accredited institution is meeting standards set out in the Criteria for Accreditation. Upon completion, the reviewers will summarize their findings and share them with the college and make a recommendation to the HLC’s governing body regarding the college’s accreditation status.

Reaffirmation of Accreditation

This accreditation process ensures that colleges and universities are meeting the standards for educational quality and comply with federal law and regulatory requirements of the U.S. Department of Education. This review leads to an action by the HLC’s governing board regarding the reaffirmation of the institution’s accreditation. After reviewing the recommendations of the reviewing committee, the HLC’s governing board will decide that the institution will be reaccredited, will be reaccredited with some stipulations, or whether monitoring should be required.