Single Accreditation FAQs
Texas has led the nation in job creation for the last four years. Reflective of this growth, TSTC is experiencing increasing demand from industry, communities, and ISDs for more technical training capacity. This expansion will require new financial investments and thoughtful stewardship in a time of limited resources.
This study determined that TSTC must make some operational changes to ensure sustainable growth and the ability to respond to rapidly changing education and workforce environments.
Though a final plan for the optimal configuration of TSTC is still being developed, a single accreditation is a prerequisite to all the options being considered. Thus, it is recommended that we begin the process of optimizing by moving to a single accreditation. Doing so will contain administrative overhead generated by duplicative accreditation processes and create an organizational environment of cooperation and collaboration. This page will continue to be updated with frequently asked questions and answers as they are known. If you have immediate questions not answered on this web page, email them to oneTSTC@tstc.edu.
A couple weeks ago after our last board meeting, I wrote you about the single accreditation the TSTC Board directed us to pursue (we’ve started to refer to the project as “SA”, for short). Soon thereafter the statewide leadership team met and selected Vice Chancellor Gail Lawrence to be our statewide executive-in-charge of the SA effort. Her role will be to oversee and guide the efforts across the colleges that will lead to the goal of single accreditation. She’ll be in constant contact with the presidents and the vice chancellors throughout he year ahead but will work with many other TSTC teammates, too.
Virtually all colleges and universities in America are reviewed by an external organization whose purpose is to examine and report the quality of the internal operations and standards used by the institution of higher education. This process is called accreditation. Accreditors publish operational quality standards that colleges must meet to maintain an accreditation. The US Department of Education requires that colleges be accredited to be eligible to offer financial aid to its students.
Colleges with more than one location can seek accreditation in one of two ways: for each of its components (multi-college accreditation) or as an overall institution (single college accreditation). Nearly all colleges in Texas use the latter approach.
TSTC’s accreditation comes from the same organization that accredits all other Texas public colleges and universities, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools—Commission on Colleges, commonly called “SACSCOC,” formerly referred to as “SACS.”
Yes. TSTC uses SACSCOC because of its ubiquity in Texas. Others could be used, but TSTC has no plans to switch accreditors at this time.
As a single accredited organization, the overall management of TSTC’s state-wide dispersed operations will become more effective and efficient. Best practices will be easier to share among the campuses. In addition, administrative costs and duplication of effort will be reduced by consolidating our reporting to SACSCOC and government agencies.
A single accreditation is TSTC’s response to meeting the skills gap and responding to HB5. By reducing accreditation redundancy, we will be able to focus on a more consistent student and workforce engagement experience.
The legislature’s growing focus on technical workforce was evidenced in House Bill 5, of the 83rd regular session of the Texas Legislature, which mandates the inclusion of career education in high schools
HB5 fundamentally enables more Texans to get technically trained for great paying jobs and equips industry with the skilled workforce they need. TSTC will be a major player in that effort.
A Minute Order was approved by the TSTC Board of Regents at the May 2014 Board meeting authorizing the college to pursue a single accreditation with SACSCOC.
The college presidents and chancellor will be discussing this strategy in more detail following the Board meeting at various campus-wide Board Follow-up Meetings throughout the state.
Moving to a single accreditation will save TSTC several hundred thousand dollars, but the main benefit is the efficiencies achieved by a more effective, coordinated and seamless experience for our students and the industries we serve.
In short, with a single accreditation, TSTC can focus more on education and less on administration. Finally, a single accreditation will help us achieve better returns on the state’s investment through unified planning, coordination, and resource distribution.
Yes. Single accreditations are common for multi-campus systems like TSTC. Of the state’s 50 community colleges, only Alamo Community College and Dallas Community College District operate with multiple accreditations. Kentucky, Minnesota, and Indiana also migrated to single accreditations for similar reasons.
Yes. The accreditation change requires changes to TSTC’s management structure. Additional organization changes will follow as needed.
We should continue optimizing our operations for student placement and industry relevant training.
This change is expected to strengthen our ability to collaborate across campuses leading to further success. We should keep focusing on innovation and making sure our programs are aligned with market demand. Any operational changes will evolve over time with a focus on emphasizing instruction and student success.
The college presidents and the chancellor.
We will know in the coming months who will be in charge of coordinating the transition on the academic side, although an official chief academic officer can not be named until we are much farther along in the single accreditation process.
The process of changing a college’s accreditation is a lengthy one that could take 18 months, and for TSTC, should ideally coincide with a legislative biennium, thus it is imperative that we begin this process now.
Our focus does not change. Our mission remains the same—place more Texans in high-paying jobs.
SA is not a staff reduction initiative. Rather, SA is in support of TSTC’s growth and expansion strategy. We anticipate that this will increase the TSTC workforce over time, with an increasing emphasis on education, not administration.
The Harlingen and West Texas colleges should keep pressing forward with their normal reaffirmation process. It's quite possible at some point we could be told by SACSCOC to pause on this reaffirmation until we, as one TSTC, go through the process together. But, for now, we continue on our current path of reaffirmation.
TSTC senior administrators from each of the four campuses will meet with SACSCOC staff in Georgia to discuss the consolidation proposal in July 2014. A written Substantive Change Prospectus will then be collaboratively written by designated staff from each campus and divisional area and submitted by April 2015.
Yes. The Prospectus for Consolidation covers similar topics, but only includes about one-third of the standards found in the Compliance Certification for reaffirmation.
Will there be another On-site visit from SACSCOC within a year for the two colleges currently going through reaffirmation?
There will be a scheduled visit approximately six months after the SACSCOC approval of consolidation. At this point we should expect that all locations will be visited, but SACSCOC will evaluate the need as the current reaffirmation visits unfold.
Yes, there will ultimately be one QEP for the college across all locations. However, all campuses should continue in their current QEP planning and implementation cycle until we receive further direction from SACSCOC on the transition plan for QEP initiatives.
If a program is approved at one TSTC campus, could it be offered at other locations without additional SACSCOC approval?
Yes. SACSCOC approval of programs will be done for the college as a whole, just as they are with the TSTC Board of Regents. However, the determination of where programs are offered will be made in consideration of industry needs and institutional resources. Under a single administrative structure, TSTC will be better able to respond to the Texas workforce by a more efficient deployment of existing and new programs.
Will our curriculum have to change? Will I be able to have a say in changes that are made if there are to be changes?
As directed by the Texas legislature, all AAS programs are being revised to 60 credit hours by Fall 2015, and there may be additional changes to improve the alignment of the programs TSTC offers at multiple locations. Where appropriate, adjustments will be made to accommodate regional employers’ needs, and in all cases, faculty will be centrally involved in curriculum revisions.