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Open Pathway for Reaffirmation of Accreditation

Open Pathway for Reaffirmation of Accreditation

Phoenix College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), an independent corporation, responsible for accrediting degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region.

In 2013, Phoenix College began the transition to the HLC Open Pathway model for continued accreditation, a new pathway for institutions that focuses on quality assurance and institutional improvement.

Open Pathway Goals:

• To enhance institutional value by opening the improvement aspect of accreditation so that institutions may choose Quality Initiatives to suit their current circumstances

• To reduce the reporting burden on institutions by utilizing as much information and data as possible from existing institutional processes and collecting them in electronic form as they naturally occur over time

• To enhance rigor by checking institutional data annually (Institutional Update) and conducting Assurance Reviews twice in the ten-year cycle

• To integrate as much as possible all HLC processes and HLC requests for data into the reaffirmation of accreditation cycle.

The Open Pathways model separates the continued accreditation process into two major components: (1) the Assurance Review and (2) the Quality Initiative.

  1. Assurance: The assurance review process requires the college to provide evidence and write an Assurance report that addresses the Higher Learning Commission’s criteria for accreditation. Two Assurance Reviews take place in the ten-year cycle; one in Year 4 and one in Year 10. The Year 4 review occurs through the Commission’s online Assurance System and without  a visit. The Year 10 review includes a visit to the campus.
  2. Quality Initiative: Between Years 5 and 9 of the ten-year cycle, the institution proposes and completes a Quality Initiative as an institutional improvement project. Phoenix College has chosen the Student Learning Assessment Academy as the Quality Initiative Project.

In Year 10, the institution undergoes a comprehensive evaluation.

Comprehensive Evaluation

A comprehensive evaluation takes place in Year 10 of the Open Pathway accreditation cycle in which peer reviewers analyze the institution's Assurance Filing to determine whether the institution continues to meet the Criteria for Accreditation.

There are four components of the comprehensive evaluation:

  • An Assurance Review
  • A review of Federal Compliance
  • An on-site visit
  • If applicable, a multi-campus review 

All comprehensive evaluations include a review of whether the institution meets the Federal Compliance Requirements