SACSCOC Reaffirmation Frequently Asked Questions

What is SACSCOC?
Why is SACSCOC Accreditation Important?
What is Reaffirmation of Accreditation
What happens if Fort Valley State University doesn’t get reaffirmed?
What are the Principles of Accreditation?
What is the timeframe for the reaffirmation process?
What is the QEP?
Who is involved?
What happens during the On-Site Visit?
What is the Compliance Certification?
What is Campus Labs – Compliance Assist?

What is SACSCOC?

SACSCOC stands for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which is the accrediting body for educational institutions within Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Latin America. The Commission on Colleges is the division of SACSCOC that oversees accreditation of higher education within the region. Dr. Belle S. Wheelan is the President of the Commission on Colleges and Dr. Larry Earvin is the assigned SACSCOC liaison for Fort Valley State University.

Why is SACSCOC accreditation important?

Accreditation by SACSCOC means that a university has:

  • a mission appropriate to higher education
  • the resources, programs and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain that mission
  • clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers
  • success in achieving its stated objectives.

Being accredited and in good standing with SACSCOC assures our constituents and the public of the quality and integrity of Fort Valley State University (FVSU) and its programs. It also allows FVSU students to maintain eligibility for federal financial aid and ensures transfer of credits among accredited institutions.

What is reaffirmation of accreditation?

Every ten years, colleges and universities accredited by SACSCOC must demonstrate that they comply with the standards contained in the Principles of Accreditation and with the policies and procedures. This process is called reaffirmation of accreditation. It is a two-year process of rigorous self-evaluation that culminates in two stages of peer review conducted by senior level faculty and administrators (Peer Evaluators) from other institutions accredited by SACSCOC.

What happens if Fort Valley State University doesn’t get reaffirmed?

Anything less than full reaffirmation potentially means:

  • Loss of federal funding
  • Loss of prestige and reputation
  • Loss of admissions applicants
  • Loss of ability of graduates to secure jobs

If the peer evaluators working on behalf of the Commission find that FVSU is deficient in some area, they can offer recommendations with penalties that range from requiring Monitoring Reports or public sanction, to denial of reaffirmation and even removal of membership. While FVSU does not anticipate major problems with reaffirmation, it is important for everyone to understand how serious the consequences are – and just how important the process is.

What are the Principles of Accreditation?

The 2018 Edition of the Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement was adopted December 2017 by the College Delegate Assembly during the SACSCOC annual meeting and took effect January 1, 2018. There are 14 sections:

1. the principle of integrity,
2. mission,
3. basic eligibility standard,
4. governing board,
5. administration and organization,
6. faculty,
7. institutional planning and effectiveness
8. student achievement,
9. educational program structure and content,
10. educational policies, procedures, and practices,
11. library and learning/information resources,
12. academic and student support services,
13. financial and physical resources, and
14. transparency and institutional representation.

FVSU is expected to comply with Core Requirement and Comprehensive Standards.

What is the timeframe for the reaffirmation process?

FVSU begin its reaffirmation process in January of 2018. The Compliance Certification Report will be submitted to SACSCOC on September 10, 2019; the Off-site Peer Evaluators will review the Compliance Certification Report November 5-8, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia; the QEP Proposal and Focused Report (if required) are due January 31, 2020 (six weeks prior to the On-Site Review); the On-Site Review to FVSU will occur on March 17-19, 2020; a Response Report (if required will be due Fall 2020); and the SACSCOC review and decision will occur December 5-8, 2020.

What is the QEP?

FVSU must develop a Quality Enhancement Plan that (a) has a topic identified through its ongoing, comprehensive planning and evaluation processes; (b) has broad-based support of institutional constituencies; (c) focuses on improving specific student learning outcomes and/or student success; (d) commits resources to initiate, implement and complete the QEP; and (e) includes a plan to assess achievement. The QEP will be submitted to the Commission 6-weeks prior to the On-Site Review that is scheduled for March 17-19, 2020.

Who is involved?

Everyone at the institution is ultimately involved in the SACSCOC 2020 Reaffirmation process. Campus constituents may serve on the Leadership Team, one of the fourteen Committees (to include a chair, vice-chairs, and members), offer input about the QEP, and/or help a team member. The reality is, everyone can help by doing what they do every day—setting goals and making changes based on assessment results, following policies and procedures, documenting what you do, acting with integrity, and simply doing your job – that makes the reaffirmation process run smoothly and successfully.

What happens during the On-Site Visit?

FVSU is responsible for arranging all transportation, meals and housing for the three-day campus visit. This includes technology support, working space in the hotel and on campus, and detailed schedules for each peer evaluator.  A Hospitality team has been established to manage all of the logistical arrangements for the onsite visit.

The Three-Day Visit may entail the following:

  • Day One usually focuses on compliance issues noted by the off-site review, the Focused Report, and all federal requirements. It usually consists of interviews as requested by the chair of the On-Site Reaffirmation Committee and assembling additional documentation when requested.
  • Day Two focuses on the QEP. It usually includes a presentation to the Committee about the QEP and group interviews with a variety of constituencies.
  • Day Three focuses on the Exit Conference, where the Committee presents its finding to the Leadership Team.

What is the Compliance Certification?

The Compliance Certification consists of four parts:

  • PART 1: Signature Page for the institution’s chief executive officer and the accreditation liaison
  • PART 2: List of all substantive changes that have been reported and approved by the Commission since the institution’s last reaffirmation as well as the date of approval
  • PART 3: The institution’s assessment of compliance with the Principles of Accreditation. Each response includes the following:
    – the wording of the standard
    – our determination of the level of compliance (Compliance, Partial Compliance, Non-Compliance)
    – a clear, succinct narrative that  presents a convincing justification of compliance based on analysis and appropriate links to reliable, current, verifiable, coherent, objective, relative and representative evidence
    – a list of all supporting documentation referenced in the narrative.
  • PART 4: An attached and updated “Institutional Summary Form Prepared for Commission Reviews” that (a) lists all locations where coursework toward a degree, certificate, or diploma can be obtained primarily through traditional classroom instruction and (b) describes distance education credit offerings that can be obtained primarily through electronic means.
  • The Compliance Certification will be submitted to the Commission no later than September 10, 2019.

What is Campus Labs – Compliance Assist?

Compliance Assist is software that we are using to produce and submit the Compliance Certification Report and the QEP.