Open Pathway Vs. Standard Option
How has the process of accreditation changed since our last review?
In the past, UW-Platteville participated in the Program to Evaluate Quality (PEAQ), a four-step process that included an intensive institutional self-study, an on-site peer review, a comprehensive report based on this review, and a final decision on accreditation status by the HLC. In September 2012, the HLC began to transition institutions that participated in PEAQ to one of two new avenues of accreditation, the Standard Pathway or the Open Pathway.
In the Standard Pathway, Quality Assurance and Improvement are integrated, with two comprehensive on-site evaluations occurring in each 10-year cycle. The Open Pathway separates the accreditation process into two components: Assurance Reviews and a Quality Initiative. Assurance Reviews occur in Year 4 and Year 10 of each 10-year cycle, with a comprehensive on-site evaluation in Year 10.
The Open Pathway seeks to achieve the following goals:
- Enhance rigor by checking institutional data annually through the Institutional Update and conducting Assurance Reviews twice in the 10-year accreditation cycle.
- Enhance institutional value by allowing institutions to identify a Quality Initiative that focuses on improvement suiting their current circumstances.
- Reduce the reporting burden on institutions by using information and data from existing institutional processes, collected electronically on a regular basis over time.
The university requested approval to participate in the Open Pathway, which was granted in July 2013.
What are the specific differences in the accreditation process?
The time between comprehensive Quality Assurance reviews has changed. In contrast to the single comprehensive Assurance Review that occurred every 10 years in PEAQ, two reviews will now occur in each ten-year cycle: one in Year 4 and one in Year 10. Because UW-Platteville is entering into the Open Pathway in Year 7, our first comprehensive Assurance Review will occur in Year 10 of the cycle and will include a full, on-site visit. The Year 4 review is conducted through the Commission’s electronic Assurance System and doesn’t include an on-site visit unless there are serious concerns from the Year 10 review.
A comprehensive self-study is no longer required. Instead, a comprehensive Quality Assurance argument based on specific evidence of how UW-Platteville addresses all aspects of the accreditation criteria will be submitted to HLC’s electronic Quality Assurance System prior to the Year 10 peer review and site visit. Contribution to the evidence files will now occur on a continuous basis.
A Quality Initiative is now a formal part of the continuous process of improvement. Between Years 5 and 9 of each 10-year cycle, UW-Platteville will propose and complete a Quality Initiative. This allows us to focus improvement efforts on a specific aspect of the institution that we identify as needing the resources and attention of the campus as a whole.