FAQ about WASC and Educational Effectiveness
What is WASC?
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is one of six regional associations in the United States that accredit public and private schools, colleges and universities. The purpose of WASC is to ensure that an institution has the capacity (infrastructure, decision-making processes and resources) and educational effectiveness (ability to deliver curriculum) to sustain itself. All documentation submitted to WASC by CLU can be found at http://www.callutheran.edu/assessment/accreditation/. For more information about WASC, please visit www.wascsenior.org
Why is it important to be a WASC accredited University?
Accreditation is sought by most schools because it certifies to other institutions and the general public that an institution meets or exceeds standards and achieves objectives that are set within the institution. The process of accreditation is voluntary. No institution is required to seek accreditation, but many choose to do so because of the many benefits associated with being accredited.
What does the WASC accreditation process involve?
The overall WASC accreditation review occurs within a ten year cycle. There are three stages to the WASC accreditation process occurring over the course of three to four years. These stages are new and are designed to promote an institution’s ownership in the accreditation process. Each stage results in a written document. The final component of the second and third stages include a site visit by the WASC Review team. The three stages are:
- The Institutional Proposal is the first stage in the accreditation review cycle. The proposal guides the entire accreditation review process and is anchored in CLU's context and goals. This proposal was written, submitted, and approved in February 2003.
- The Capacity and Preparatory Review mainly focuses on CLU’s capacity to support and sustain its desired educational programs and outcomes. Our review was submitted in December 2004, a team visited our campus, and our review was approved in July 2005.
- The Educational Effectiveness Review invites sustained engagement and inquiry as to the extent to CLU fulfills its core commitment to educational effectiveness. This review, a 50 page document with supporting evidence, will be submitted for approval on December 15, 2006. A five-seven member team will visit CLU from March 21-23, 2007.
How do faculty participate in the CLU WASC process?
Faculty participate in the CLU WASC process as individuals and collectively through their schools/college and as members of the WASC Committee. (http://www.callutheran.edu/assessment/accreditation/wasc/committee.php)
What questions are addressed in the Educational Effectiveness Review?
The purpose of the Educational Effectiveness Review is to invite sustained engagement and inquiry as to the extent to which California Lutheran University fulfills its core commitment to educational effectiveness.
Two main questions are addressed, specifically, does the University:
- Evidence clear and appropriate educational objectives and design at the institutional and program levels?
- Employ review processes, including collection and use of data that assure the delivery of programs and learner accomplishments at a level of performance appropriate for the degree awarded?
What is the purpose of the Educational Effectiveness Review?
Specific purposes of the Educational Effectiveness Review include:
- Reviewing the design and results of our efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of educational programs;
- Examining our practices for evaluating student learning;
- Developing and sharing “good practices” in using educational results to improve the process of teaching and learning;
- Examining the alignment of our resources with activities designed to achieve our educational objectives, and
- Promoting sustained engagement with selected issues of educational effectiveness consistent with WASC accreditation standards.
What is involved in a team visit?
The visiting WASC team ranges from five to seven people and members will arrive on Wednesday, March 21 for a three day visit. Team members will have read our Educational Effectiveness Review and will tour the campus and meet with faculty and administrators to add supporting evidence of our Educational Effectiveness ability. The team prepares a report of its review for the commission.
How do I prepare? What are some questions the team might ask me?
The visiting WASC team will be impressed when you are able to:
- Share evidence to support the “Assessment Framework ” diagram
- Explain how the Student Learning Outcomes in your course align with the program outcomes, the College / School’s outcomes and mission, and CLU’s mission.
- Answer, “How do you know your students are learning and achieving Student Learning Outcomes?”
- Answer, “What are you doing in your courses to increase Challenge and Engagement, and to address Diversity?”
- Answer, “How are you using the Program Review process to improve Educational Effectiveness?”