What is accreditation?
Accreditation is a concept, a process, and status. As a concept, accreditation is a means of self-regulation which focuses on the evaluation and the continuous improvement of educational quality. It provides a structure for public accountability and a way of ensuring that educational institutions will continuously seek ways to upgrade and enhance the quality of education and training they provide.
As a process, accreditation is voluntary based on the principles of academic self-governance. It is also a quality assurance and collegial process under which an institution’s and/or program’s quality, services, and operations are examined through self-evaluation and external review by one’s peers.
In terms of status, accreditation provides public notification that an institution or program meets commonly accepted standards of quality or excellence set forth by the accrediting organization granting the accreditation. It increases opportunities for public and private funding for the institution, faculty members, and students and enhances the institution’s credibility and reputation.
Importance of Accreditation
Accreditation provides the educational institution an opportunity for critical analysis leading to improvement in quality, services, and operations. It gives public certification that an institution or program has attained standards above those prescribed by government agencies. Accreditation also fosters educational excellence through the development of principles and guidelines for assessing educational effectiveness.
Features of Accreditation
The features of accreditation are:
- a prevailing sense of volunteerism
- a strong tradition of self-regulation
- reliance on evaluation/assessment techniques
- the primary concern with quality and excellence
- openness to outside examination/external scrutiny by educational evaluators (accreditors) familiar with accreditation requirements
Benefits of Accreditation and Membership in PAASCU
Being a member of PAASCU facilitates a clearer self-image for a member institution that gives the school community and its stakeholders a sense of direction. It affords the member school a high reputation founded on quality standards and also guides parents and students in the choice of excellent schools and facilitates the transfer of students.
PAASCU also provides its members Consultancy Services in the form of assistance towards strengthening areas needing improvement and guidance in the self-survey process or preparation for survey visits. PAASCU also organizes relevant seminars, workshops, conferences, and other professional development sessions available to member schools.
Department of Education
Commission on Higher Education
PAASCU accreditation is a voluntary process and does not prescribe any specific practice. As such, schools or institutions apply for PAASCU accreditation when they believe they are ready based on their compliance with PAASCU accreditation criteria and standards.
An institution or program seeking accreditation from PAASCU must complete these six (6) major steps in the accreditation process:
- The Institutional Self-Survey
This is a thorough, rigorous, and comprehensive self-assessment of the institution’s educational resources and eﬀectiveness made by in-house members of the school. It is a major undertaking that takes at least six (6) months to two (2) years to complete where members of different area committees appointed by the administration, conduct a fair and objective assessment of how well the institution has achieved its philosophy and objectives for self-improvement, and how the school complies with PAASCU criteria, standards, and requirements.
The documented results of the institution’s self-assessment are presented to PAASCU in the Self-Survey Report which records and describes the salient features. This Self-Survey Report is supported by institutional materials, evidence to substantiate the claims of the institution and will serve as the basis for evaluation by the Accreditation Team.
The Consultancy Visit (only for those who will undertake a Preliminary Visit)
A school applying for a Preliminary Survey is not placed on the visit-ready list until PAASCU, through the relevant Commission, has reviewed the school’s application and the Self-Survey Report. The Commission will assign a consultant to assist the applicant school in properly accomplishing the survey forms and in determining whether or not the school has complied with PAASCU requirements and standards. The consultant also assists the school in identifying the documents that should be prepared and exhibited for the Accreditation Team. Based on the consultant’s assessment, PAASCU will be informed of the earliest time the school can be visited by the Accreditation Team for a Preliminary Survey.
The Preliminary Survey Visit
A group of ﬁve (5) to eight (8) accreditors who have the expertise in the program or programs to be evaluated conduct the accreditation visit for two (2) days. Following PAASCU procedures, the evaluation done by the Accreditation Team seeks to assess the school, in light of the self-survey based on the standards for accreditation. The Team takes a general look at the school situation, validates the Self-Survey Report through interviews with school members and examination of school documents/exhibits, studies the recommendations presented in the Self-Survey Report, cites the best features of the diﬀerent areas, and makes recommendations. Once a school or program is judged ready for a Formal Survey Visit, it is granted “Candidate” status for a two (2)-year period.
The Formal Survey Visit
This is conducted by a Team of from six (6) to eight (8) accreditors one (1) year after the Preliminary Visit. The Visit usually lasts for two (2) days and follows the same process of interviewing school members and examining submitted documents and evidence. The Accreditation Team, however, now cite the action taken by the school on the recommendations given by the Preliminary Survey Team. As in the Preliminary Visit, the team also identiﬁes the areas’ best features and makes its recommendations when necessary. A school or program granted formal accreditation is given Level I accredited status for three (3) years.
Initial Accreditation Status Granted
Upon favorable evaluation and recommendation by the Accreditation Team and the relevant PAASCU Commission, the PAASCU Board of Trustees grants initial accreditation for three (3) years. Accreditation indicates overall excellence in the delivery of programs and services and has no major deﬁciencies that compromise its educational eﬀectiveness. With this initial accreditation, the institution becomes a full member of PAASCU.
Full Accreditation Status Granted
After the three (3)-year period, the institution/program undertakes another institutional self-evaluation and is visited by a Re-Survey Team. A favorable re-evaluation after the initial 3-year accreditation period merits for the institution/ program full accreditation for ﬁve (5) years. Full accreditation indicates optimal compliance with PAASCU criteria/standards and demonstrates the institution’s/program’s overall excellence in the delivery of programs and services. The institution or program is also granted Level II re-accredited status at this time.
Accreditation Visit Procedures and Timeline
- Application and Orientation
The President or Director of an applicant institution writes a letter of intent for accreditation to the PAASCU Board of Trustees. The PAASCU Secretariat will inform the institution of the decision and schedule for orientation.
The orientation on the philosophy, objectives, policies, and procedures of PAASCU accreditation will be given by a Consultant. The orientation is a way to assess the institutions’ compliance with the basic accreditation requirements as well as to guide them in the self-survey process or preparation for survey visits.
8 to 12 months prior to the visit
Institution will inform PAASCU of their intent for a survey visit which will then be calendared by the PAASCU Secretariat.
2 to 3 months prior to the visit
The PAASCU Secretariat will form and finalize the Accreditation Team line-up to be sent to the institution for approval.
2 months prior to the visit
Submission of Self-Survey Report and other additional documents and requirements.
1st-2nd week after submission
Initial review of submitted Self-Survey Report.
3rd-4th week after submission
Submission of any additional requirements.
1 month prior to the visit
Dissemination of final Self-Survey Report to the Accreditation Team.
2 weeks to 1 month prior to the visit
Finalize logistics arrangements of the Accreditation Team and/or preparation test using virtual meeting technology.
Accreditation Team’s Report
After the accreditation survey visit, the PAASCU Representative will collate all accreditor’s reports to be submitted to the Team Chair for checking and crafting of Chairman’s Report. The report will be forwarded to the different Commissions for review and endorsement to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees decides and approves the decision during its quarterly meeting.
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