What is NECHE?
NECHE is the New England Commission of Higher Education and is the regional agency that accredits Central and about 200 other post-secondary educational institutions, mostly in New England. NECHE establishes standards by which institutions are expected to comply with; in effect it oversees the quality of programs while confirming that Central is meeting its goals and Mission. NECHE is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education.
I see some references to NEASC?
NECHE was previously part of NEASC, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. In 2018, NECHE became a separate entity from NEASC, the nation’s oldest regional accrediting association.
What does NECHE accreditation guarantee?
The NECHE-member higher education institutions have established a set of standards member-institutions must meet to ensure that they are achieving their stated purposes, performing their roles in ways that ensure overall quality, and employ appropriate standards for management of human and financial resources. Achievement of NECHE accreditation assures the public that the accredited member demonstrates (a) substantial compliance with established qualitative standards, (b) integrity in statements to the public describing the institution’s program, (c) institutional commitment to improvement, and (d) sufficiency of institutional resources.
Why do we need accreditation from NECHE ?
One major reason for accreditation from NECHE is to confirm and ensure quality in the education and opportunities we provide at Central Connecticut State University. Another major reason is that accreditation by NECHE give Central students and Central programs access to federal funding in the form of grants and loans.
What is the process?
Comprehensive Evaluation (Ten-year self-study):
The process requires (a) the preparation by Central of a 100-page self-study document, Data First Forms, and appendices, (b) review of that document by a NECHE-selected set of peer educators from other accredited institutions, (c) a four-day visit by a team of NECHE selected reviewers charged with verifying what has been presented in the self-study, (d) a review for factual errors by Central leadership, (e) a final copy of the report submitted by the visitation team to the members of the Commission, and (f) discussion and a decision by the Commission regarding continuing accreditation.
Interim (five-year) report:
The process requires (a) the preparation by Central of a 50-page self-study document, data forms, and appendices, (b) review of that document by NECHE-selected Commissioners, (c) a review for factual errors by Central leadership, and (d) discussion and a decision by the Commission regarding accreditation. A five-year report is not normally accompanied by a site visit; Central is not scheduled to have a visiting team in 2023.
What standards do we have to meet?
The set of standards are proposed, reviewed, and approved by the member institutions of NECHE. Central’s self-study must follow the report format as directed by NECHE, but in general each standard begins with a description of how we comply with each standard, appraisal or analysis of how well we are meeting the standard, and then a projection. The standards address the following elements: (1) Mission and Purposes; (2) Planning and Evaluation; (3) Organization and Governance; (4) The Academic Program; (5) Students; (6) Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship; (7) Institutional Resources; (8) Educational Effectiveness; and (9) Integrity, Transparency, and Public Disclosure. The report also includes a set of required data elements for each standard and it is expected to reference additional supporting data throughout.
In addition to addressing the standards, what else do we need to write about?
In response to the 2019 and 2020 letters from NECHE, Central must include updates on the following areas of special emphasis:
- completing the strategic planning process and beginning to implement its strategic plan;
- achieving its enrollment goals;
- documenting compliance with Title IV and Title IX requirements with attention to ensuring that staffing is sufficient to comply with Title IX requirements;
- clarifying expectations and demonstrating outcomes related to the Board of Regents’ shared services and “Students First” initiatives;
What can I do to help?
Review all or part of the self-study and provide feedback to the Steering Committee. Be able to speak about the mission of Central.
What if I don’t agree with what the report says?
Each element of this report will have been reviewed and discussed by multiple individuals and groups in the university community. Nonetheless, differences among the various members of our university community will still be present. You’re free to express your agreement and your disagreement with any portion of the report through written suggestions or through speaking about your support or disagreement with conclusions drawn or projections for further action.
I made suggestions, but I don’t see them in the report. What happened?
Multiple opportunities to provide feedback and input into the report are possible. Members of the university community are encouraged to provide feedback and suggest elements to consider. There is a strict page limit for the text (50 pages), which will require finding ways to reduce the initial drafts significantly. This will be done by linking to supporting documents and resources, cross-referencing information between standards, and prioritizing information. Keep in mind that there are nine standards to address which must include a 15-20-page reflective essay on educational effectiveness (Standard 8) and four areas of special emphasis. The Steering Committee will work hard at ensuring the report overall represents Central, its broad set of activities, the major improvements made in assessment, and the strength of the university in its service to students, learning, scholarship, and community engagement as well as possible.