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AQIP Definitions

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ACCREDITATION - Accreditation by nationally recognized agencies provides objective, public assurance that an institution has been found to meet clearly stated requirements and criteria and that there are reasonable grounds for believing that it will continue to meet them. Accreditation results in an evaluation of the entire institution in terms of its mission. The accrediting agency establishes standards, or criteria, to assess the formal educational activities of the institution. Also evaluated are governance and administration, financial stability, student personnel services, institutional resources, student academic achievement, institutional effectiveness, and relationships with constituencies inside and outside the institution.

AQIP - The Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) is a reaccreditation process used by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools that is structured around quality improvement principles and processes and involves structured goal setting, networking, and accountability activities.

ACTION PROJECTS - AQIP Action Projects should create a foundation for an institution’s improvement initiatives and demonstrate the vitality of its commitment to quality. AQIP institutions commit to 3-4 projects that will move it closer to being the institution it wants to be. At least one action project must relate directly to Helping Students Learn. Action projects should:

  • Make a serious and visible difference to institutional performance

  • Embody challenging but do-able goals

  • Stretch the institution in new ways – to learn and to excel

  • Focus on both efficiency and benefits to students and other stakeholders

ACTION PROJECT TEAMS -  Northark’s practice is to form teams, sometimes called task groups, to work on a specific project or charge. Typically, the responsibility of these teams includes developing goals, objectives, action steps, outcomes and timelines. For AQIP, the college has formed teams comprised of staff and faculty members college-wide to work on our AQIP Action Projects and our Systems Portfolio. Each team is charged with examining internal and external resources and then developing a plan with recommended steps.

ANNUAL PROGRESS REPORT - Each September, we submit a progress report on each of our Action Projects to the Higher Learning Commission. These reports include: progress made based on timelines, goals and measures problems and challenges we encountered outstanding successes and discoveries made

STRATEGY FORUM - The Strategy Forum provides an institution with a supportive, facilitated peer review process that will stimulate and assist it in selecting, critically examining, and committing to selecting Action Projects that will drive quality improvement. Each AQIP institution participates in a Strategy Forum once every four years.

STRATEGIC PRIORITIES - Major areas of institutional focus that comprise the college’s Strategic Plan. The college’s AQIP Action Projects originated from the following strategic priorities and the goals and action steps associated with them.

SYSTEMS APPRAISAL - The Systems Appraisal process involves five or more reviewers trained by the Higher Learning Commission that review the institution’s Systems Portfolio. This team of reviewers will produce an Appraisal Feedback Report that assesses the maturity of, and identifies strengths and opportunities for improvement within, each of the AQIP nine characteristics. This Systems Appraisal will occur within the 8-10 weeks following submission of our Systems Portfolio.

SYSTEMS PORTFOLIO - The Systems Portfolio is designed to present an overview of our institution that explains the major processes, programs and services we use to accomplish our mission. AQIP institutions are required to assemble a Systems Portfolio every four years and answer questions under 9 AQIP characteristics that deal with a) how we do things, b) what results we get, and c) how we can improve.