State Auditor’s Report on Community College Accreditation confirms deep problems with Accrediting Commission

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 26, 2014
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Sacramento—Today the California State Auditor issued a stinging critique of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) in a Report on California Community College Accreditation. The report confirms numerous problems first articulated by the California Federation of Teachers in its complaint to the U.S. Department of Education in Spring 2013, and validated by the USDOE in August, with ACCJC’s operations. The Auditor found that the ACCJC:

 

  • Is inconsistent in applying accreditation standards to different colleges
  • Lacks transparency in its decision-making process
  • Needs to improve the appeals process when colleges are sanctioned
  • Does not observe accepted accreditation standards in composing site visit teams
  • Sanctions colleges under its jurisdiction at a much higher rate—54.5% vs. 12.4%—than other accreditation agencies do.

 

While staying away from many of the issues surrounding the Commission’s improper and illegal sanctions of City College of San Francisco (CCSF), due to the pending lawsuit filed by the City Attorney of San Francisco against the Commission, the Auditor nonetheless found that the treatment of CCSF was riddled with inconsistencies compared to the ACCJC’s treatment of other schools.


The Auditor also noted numerous incorrect public statements by Commission members regarding its own policies.


CFT President Joshua Pechthalt responded to the Audit Report by saying, “We are pleased that the findings of the Auditor agree with and reinforce our criticisms of this out of control and destructive agency. We hope that the Legislature will take this report to heart in considering legislation to restore a fair accreditation process in this state. We can’t afford another vendetta by the ACCJC, which has already severely and needlessly disrupted the ability of one of the most important colleges in the state to deliver its education to thousands of students.”


CFT has taken the Report findings and folded it into a “Report Card” on the ACCJC. View it here.


"In view of the findings of the State Auditor's report, I look forward to working together with my colleagues in the Legislature to add to AB 1942 reasonable and appropriate recommendations from the report. It is critical for our 2.4 million California community college students that we ensure our community colleges undergo a fair, open and transparent, and accountable accreditation process," said Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland).


State Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose), who, along with State Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), requested the audit, said, “This audit raises troubling issues about the ACCJC. I am especially concerned about the commission’s lack of cooperation and transparency which can only fuel fears that it may have something to hide from the public and the Legislature.”


In light of the enumerated violations of accepted accrediting norms by the ACCJC, the Auditor recommended that the state Community College Chancellor’s office should seek an important policy change, which is to remove language from its regulations that names the ACCJC as sole accreditor for the community colleges, and identify other accreditors who would provide colleges greater flexibility in maintaining their accreditation.

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The CFT represents over 25,000 faculty in thirty community college districts, and 120,000 educational employees at every level of the education system, from Head Start to UC. More info: www.cft.org

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