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Students Bear the Burden of Administrative Faults in CC Accreditation

by Michael Higham, published
Credit: Mike Koozman / The SF Examiner

Students Bear the Burden of Administrative Faults in Community College Accreditation

San Francisco City College (CCSF) serves over 30,000 student every year making it the largest two-year college in California. As a result of bureaucratic and administrative mismanagement, the campus could lose its accreditation this time next year.

When taking a look at the 14 recommendations made by the Accrediting Commission (ACCJC), none are directly related to student or instructor performance:

1) Mission Statement, 2) Event Planning Processes, 3) Assessing Institutional Effectiveness, 4) Student Learning Outcomes, 5) Student Support Services, 6) Human Resource Components to Evaluation, 7) Human Resources 8) Physical Resources, 9) Technology Resources, 10) Financial Planning and Stability, 11) Financial Integrity and Reporting, 12) Leadership, Governance and Decision-making, 13) Governance Structures, 14) Effective Board Organization

A combination of all 14 concerns can no doubt impact the college's academic environment significantly. For example, if a school's student learning outcomes and guidelines are either non-existent or minimal, and support services are lacking, then the campuses could very well be under-serving its students.

However, concerns relating to the operation of the governing board may be best left to sanctions on the board itself. But it is within the current powers of the ACCJC to hold the entire institution accountable for matters of governance.

Enrollment dropped for this school year in comparison to the same time last year. As of now, 19,544 students are enrolled at San Francisco City College -- a decrease of 3,414 students. The drop has been linked to the current situation, but CCSF is still an accredited community college for at least the 2013-2014 school year.

CCSF is currently on "show cause" status for accreditation, the most severe of a three step warning process. There are 16 community colleges "on warning" and 5 "on probation" as of this month. There are two other campuses on "show cause" -- College of the Sequoias and Northern Marinas College -- both of which enroll significantly less students than CCSF.

EdSource interviewed Bob Agrella, a trustee who will step in for the previous governing board to aid in CCSF's accreditation. He was confident that despite the emergency of losing accreditation, the school will make significant progress and overcome the issue:

"I do know that no accrediting body wants to remove the accreditation of an institution. I really believe that. Their job is to see that the institutions meet those standards, not take accreditation. And they will do everything in their power to try and help us do that, I believe. They are bound by some federal guidelines, obviously, but I think if we show significant progress while we go through that appeals process, I think we’ll be OK."

At what point should an entire educational institution's validity be stripped for the shortcomings of its administrators? Campus staff has a vital role in setting the path for the college and its students, but should the accreditation process be left solely to academic performance?

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