SACS On-Site Visit FAQ
What is SACS with regard to colleges and universities?
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is a private, nonprofit, voluntary organization founded in 1895 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Association is comprised of the Commission on Colleges and the Council on Accreditation and School Improvement, which accredits elementary, middle, and secondary schools.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOCS) is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. It serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices among the diverse institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Latin America and other international sites approved by the Commission on Colleges that award associate, baccalaureate, master (Excerpt from http://www.sacscoc.org/)
What is the mission of SACSCOCS?
The Commission's mission is the enhancement of educational quality throughout the region and it strives to improve the effectiveness of institutions by ensuring that institutions meet standards established by the higher education community that address the needs of society and students.
The mission of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOCS) is the improvement of education in the south through a voluntary, peer accreditation process and product.
What does "Shared Values" mean in the context of SACS?
The SACS accreditation process serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices among the diverse institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Latin America and other international sites approved by the Commission on Colleges that award associate, baccalaureate, master's, or doctoral degrees. The Commission also accepts applications from other international institutions of higher education.
In SACSCOC, the shared values are the Principles of Accreditation or standards. These standards guide institutions to best practices in higher education. Another shared value is the process of peer review or self-regulation through a voluntary association of educational institutions. The accreditation process is based on integrity, thoughtful and principled judgment, rigorous application of requirements and a context of trust. Accreditation as a product is a public statement of an institution's continuing capacity to provide effective programs and services based on agreed-upon requirements.
What steps are required for reaffirmation of accreditation?
- In September 2010, FSU was required to submit a Compliance Report (formerly referred to as the SACS Self-Study).
- In November 2010, the SACS Off-Site Reaffirmation Committee reviewed the FSU Compliance Report and provided its findings regarding the institution, and Federal Standards.
- On March 15, 2011, FSU responded to SACS' findings to the FSU Compliance Report by submitting a Focused Report that addressed these findings.
- On March 15, 2011, FSU also submitted its required Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) (see SACS Core Requirements 2.12). The FSU QEP is entitled Making Evidence-Based Decisions (MEBD).
- On April 19-21, 2011, the SACS On-Site Reaffirmation Committee visits the campus of Fayetteville State University.
- In September, 2011, FSU will submit a response to the recommendations made by the On-site Reaffirmation Committee to the Commission.
- In November and December, 2011 the Committees on Compliance and Reports (C&R) review reports prepared by peer committees and the institutional responses to those reports. The C&R Committee reviewing FSU's reports will make a recommendation regarding reaffirmation of accreditation to the Executive Council for review. The Executive Council's recommendation will be forwarded to the SACSCOC Board of Trustees which will take final action on the recommendation and report its decision to the College Delegate Assembly at the annual business meeting in December, 2011.
What will happen during the SACS On-Site Visit?
The SACS On-Site Reaffirmation Committee will do the following:
- Review the Off-Site Committee Report relative to the FSU Compliance Report and FSU Focused Report response and make plans to get answers to the following questions:
- What questions remain to be answered before the committee can reach closure on its decisions regarding the institution
- Who on campus would have the information the committee needs in order to make its decision?
- What documents need to be reviewed?
- What does the committee report need to provide in those instances where the committee judges the school to be out of compliance with a given requirement?
- Review the FSU Quality Enhancement Plan, Making Evidence-Based Decisions (MEBD) Executive Summary and Full Report [LINK TO QEP WEB PAGE] with the QEP Committee.
- Make plans to get answers to the following general questions:
- What questions and/or issues need to be explored with all constituencies on campus during the visit?
- What questions and/or issues need to be explored with specific sub-groups on campus?
- What documentation does the committee need to review while on campus?
- How will the committee write up its report pertaining to the FSU QEP?
- Meet with Chancellor James A. Anderson and other administrators.
- Conduct individual reviews regarding the FSU Compliance Report and Focused Report with selected administrative officers. Committee will conduct group interviews with
- QEP Leadership Team
- Focused Groups of persons who have worked to develop the QEP
- Selected members of the FSU Board of Trustees and students, and faculty and staff not serving on a QEP committee.
- Hold an Exit Conference on the last day of the on-site visit.
How can I or my unit prepare for the On-site Visit?
- Become familiar with the OPAR for your unit
- The Operational Plan and Assessment Report (OPAR) is FSU's tool for engaging in annual planning, assessment and evaluation aligned to FSU's Five Year Strategic Plan. The OPAR is where each of the units on campus responsible for planning annual outcomes to identify and record goals and measureable objectives that align with the Strategic Plan.
- The OPAR also includes the measures and criteria that will be used to determine if the outcomes have been met successfully. At the end of the year, the unit evaluates the results of its planning and assessment. Re-flections and recommendations for improving the unit for the next year are recorded on the OPAR.
- This cycle is continued annually and all planning unit OPARs are reviewed collectively to determine the success of the entire university in meeting the goals in the FSU Strategic Plan. These documents and this cyclical process are the way institutional effectiveness is demonstrated to SACSCOC that we are compliant with Principles of Accreditation Standard 3.3.1. All campus employees should be familiar with their unit's OPAR.
- Become familiar with the policies of FSU and of your unit.
- Become familiar with Human Resources Policies for new hires, promotions, mediation, grievances, etc. Review your unit's operations manuals, compliance manuals, etc.
- Become familiar with the QEP http://www.uncfsu.edu/qep
- Read the description of the quality enhancement plan required in the SACS Principles of Accreditation (Standard 2.12 and 3.3.2).
- Be able to discuss how the idea was generated and what if any role you had in the process of determining/reviewing the idea. (http://www.uncfsu.edu/qep/ - click on Information About then Click on "Do You Remember How We Got Here?")
- Be able to discuss how you might be involved in the implementation of Making Evidence -Based Decisions.
Those policies that impact students are especially important (for example, how to process student complaints or withdraw students from classes).
Students may withdraw from classes or the university according by following the procedures in the:
When will FSU know the outcome of the SACS Reaffirmation of Accreditation?
In December 2011, SACS will officially announce the outcome of FSU's Reaffirmation of Accreditation.