American River College is preparing for a visit from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) next month, which will determine whether units earned at the campus can be transferred to other colleges and whether students can continue to receive financial aid.
The visit, from Oct. 5-8, comes at the end of a six-year process known as accreditation.
Accreditation includes both a self-evaluation of the college and a visit from faculty and administration from other colleges to ensure that the school is fulfilling its mission. WASC decides which colleges should be officially recognized by other accredited colleges.
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) is the subset of WASC that is responsible for ARC.
The ACCJC has been mired in controversy since a judge ruled that the organization broke laws in its effort to remove the accreditation of the City College of San Francisco in 2012.
After being ordered to re-examine the removal, the ACCJC once again decided not to renew the accreditation of CCSF last month.
Assembly member Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, introduced Assembly Bill 1397 this session. AB 1397 would make the ACCJC publish their meeting agendas online one month in advance.
The self-evaluation report was submitted to WASC in July and is being followed up by the visit next month, which is chaired by Marvin Martinez, the president of East Los Angeles College.
Amanda Corcoran, the faculty chair of accreditation, said that the response to the self-evaluation report has been positive.
“The first response I received once the report had been released to the college for review was from a student who noted that the report accurately reflected her understanding of the college,” said Corcoran. “One or two suggested that the college could improve sustainability efforts by cutting back on grassy areas.”
The 12 member WASC team visiting the campus will be observing college activities to see the school from themselves, ensuring that what ARC reported in the self-evaluation was accurate.
“People from facilities through instruction to student services to administration have been concentrating on this preparation process to ensure the college is well and truly ready for the evaluation,” said Corcoran.
Adam Karp, ARC’s dean of planning, research and technology, is the accreditation liaison officer, replacing Jane DeLeon. Karp said that the school is reaching out to inform students of the visit.
“I went to the ASB Senate and talked about what they could expect,” said Karp. “The team is interested to see the college as it operates in a regular way, so if students have any questions about how to behave when or if the team member asks them something, just be honest and if they ask any questions to answer as authentically as they can.”
There will be two forums with the accreditation team during their visit, which are tentatively scheduled for the Student Center community rooms at 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. on Oct. 6 and 3-4 p.m. on Oct. 7.
A final forum is tentatively scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 8 in the ARC Theater. At this forum, the team will announce whether ARC will continue to be an accredited institution and will make recommendations for the future.
Corcoran is “optimistic” that the school will once again be accredited. So too is ARC President Thomas Greene.
“It’s a reflective process of continual improvement,” said Greene. “Our goal here is to examine our processes, improve those processes, evaluate those and identify ways to seek opportunities for improvement.”