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AQIP - Academic Quality Improvement Program
Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) is an alternative process through which an organization can maintain its accredited status with The Higher Learning Commission. AQIP’s goal is to infuse the principles and benefits of continuous improvement into the culture of colleges and universities in order to assure and advance the quality of higher education. AQIP allows an organization to demonstrate that it meets The Higher Learning Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation and other expectations through processes that align with the ongoing activities that characterize organizations striving continuously to improve their performance. By sharing both its improvement activities and their results through AQIP, an organization develops the structure and systems essential to achieving the distinctive higher education mission it has set for itself — and the evidence to enable the Commission to reaffirm accreditation.
The Strategy Forum is a supportive, facilitated peer review process to help an organization select, critically examine, and commit to a set of Action Projects that will drive quality improvement. The Strategy Forum helps the organization address the AQIP Criteria that are most vital at the time. AQIP does not expect a college or university to address everything simultaneously, but instead to concentrate its energies on three or four Action Projects that will most significantly advance its goals. At the Strategy Forum, peers from a variety of organizations work to improve each others’ systems by probing, questioning, and testing strategies and Action Projects. This takes place in a constructive environment designed to help everyone invest improvement efforts wisely and productively. No one outside an organization, either peers or AQIP, will dictate what the organization must do to improve. That responsibility rests with the organization alone. The function of peers, AQIP facilitators, and Strategy Forum staff is to guarantee that each organization has examined important issues from all perspectives before it makes these critical decisions.
Since becoming an AQIP institution, DCCC has adopted the “conversation day” model to conduct bi-annual campus retreats to discuss issues of common concern, work on strategic planning, and conduct specialized training as necessary. The campus conversation days also provide opportunities for the President and Vice-Presidents to share information with the campus at large and receive feedback on the support service needs of faculty, staff, and administration.
Within the larger sequence of activities and services that constitute AQIP, Action Projects strengthen an organization’s commitment to continuous improvement; educate and motivate faculty, staff, and administrators; and improve systems and processes that will lead to success in achieving organizational goals. Ambitious Action Projects create a foundation for improvement initiatives and demonstrate the vitality of the organization’s commitment to quality. Each organization shares three or four Action Projects that will swiftly and determinedly move it closer to being what it wants to be. At least one of the Action Projects relates directly to Helping Students Learn. This project can deal with learning assessment, educational program design and delivery of instruction, evaluation, academic advising, or other academic processes that directly affect students’ learning.
Organizations participating in AQIP file Annual Updates on the progress or completion of the Action Projects that they committed to after attending the Strategy Forum. Updates provide feedback, recognition, and assistance if needed.
The Systems Portfolios cover the nine AQIP Categories, describing processes, results, and improvement in each system, and shows evidence that the institution continues to meet The Higher Learning Commission's five Criteria for Accreditation.
The Systems Appraisal complements the intensive work embodied in the Action Projects by asking the organization to take stock of its overall systems for maintaining quality. It also provides stimulus for future Action Projects. Following standardized evaluation procedures, the Systems Appraisal produces a consensus Appraisal Feedback Report for the institution. This report assesses the maturity of each of the nine systems to which the AQIP Categories refer, identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement within each. In addition, the Systems Appraisal provides an executive summary that may serve as a concise report of the organization’s progress in its quality journey.
During the seven-year cycle leading up to Reaffirmation of Accreditation, AQIP requires a site visit to each institution conducted by two or more trained evaluators who will spend at least two days on campus. The team prepares for the visit by reviewing relevant organizational and AQIP file materials. Quality Checkup visits occur in the two-year period before an organization’s scheduled Reaffirmation of Accreditation. The Quality Checkup team produces a written report summarizing its findings, identifying those areas the team has verified and/or clarified, and addressing the institution’s compliance with the Criteria for Accreditation, noting any areas that require additional clarification before Reaffirmation of Accreditation.
Reaffirmation of Accreditation
Reaffirmation of Accreditation is the summative review ending each seven-year period of participation in AQIP. An AQIP Reaffirmation Panel examines each organization’s current Systems Portfolio and its last six years of Action Projects, Systems Appraisals, and other interactions with AQIP and the Commission, including reports of the Quality Checkup as well as any additional organizationally requested or Commission-sponsored visits. The Panel documents where it finds satisfactory evidence of compliance with each of the Criteria for Accreditation.
For more information about AQIP at DCCC, contact:
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