By Glenn Wohltmann
Las Positas College will retain its accreditation for the next 18 months, but college President Barry Russell is confident deficiencies will be resolved long before then.
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges – the team that decides whether the college will retain its accreditation – cited a number of areas in which Las Positas didn’t meet standards. Some are simple fixes, such as adding the Academic Freedom Statement to the college catalog. That statement is basically a commitment to the instructors’ right to teach and the students’ right to learn.
In its Feb. 5 report, the ACCJC also recommended that instructors include Student Learning Outcomes in course syllabuses, that the college examine its education outcomes, as well as providing better counseling opportunities for distance learners, typically students who take online courses.
The fact that the deficiencies are relatively minor doesn’t mean that the college isn’t taking prompt action.
“We take everything around accreditation as serious,” Russell said.
But he said given the bigger picture, Las Positas did relatively well.
“There are over a hundred different standards that we have to meet at all times. In our case, in their letter, they identified six or seven that we weren’t currently meeting,” he explained. “There are a couple of them that are clear, very minor, and easily fixed. (Adding) the Academic Freedom Statement, we have that in other places, and that’ll be fixed.”
Russell said the other deficiencies had already been noted by the college in its self evaluation, which was submitted to the ACCJC last year.
“We’ve already started working on those,” Russell said, pointing toward to staff members who are already addressing the deficiencies.”
In a prepared statement, Chancellor Jannett Jackson said she was proud of the work done by both Las Positas and its sister college, Chabot.
According to the statement, recommendations for Las Positas College include full-time and part-time faculty assessing and communicating student learning outcomes, and evaluating the comparability of face-to-face counseling and tutoring services with online counseling and tutoring services.
Both colleges must file follow-up reports in response to recommendations that were delivered by the accreditation team.
“I am very pleased that ACCJC has fully reaffirmed the accreditation of Las Positas College,” Jackson said. “It is a great honor to be recently identified as one of the fastest growing community colleges in the nation, as well as an institution of high quality.”
While the accreditation team found the college “welcoming and engaging,” it also noted that the Self-Evaluation Report was “superficial in detail,” that it “lacks an integrated examination of issues.”
The report also says that “governance and institutional effective structures lack maturity and there is a gap in information,” although it noted that might be due to “recent executive leadership changes.”
Loss of accreditation can be a huge issue. In 2014, the ACCJC threatened to revoke the accreditation of the Community College of San Francisco, which could have meant courses taken by students attending CCSF would not transfer to other colleges.