College Rankings & Accreditation
Are you attending one of the best community colleges? Do rankings matter? From the best schools in the US to those losing accreditation, we’ll provide you with the latest resources on community college rankings.
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The chancellor of the California Community College System, Bryce Harris, recently stated more than 20 community colleges in the state were at risk of losing accreditation. In the midst of problems with City College of San Francisco, some are beginning to question the credibility of the accreditors.
As City College of San Francisco fights to remain open after the current school year, others are beginning to question the validity of an accrediting agency that is threatening the very existence of vital California community colleges. Scrutiny and even lawsuits are leaving the accrediting agency vulnerable, while other California schools struggle with the realization their accreditation may be the next on the line. How will this growing problem eventually be resolved?
More California Schools Heading to the Chopping Block?
The chancellor of the California Community College System, Bryce Harris, recently stated at the San Francisco Business Times that the possible de-accreditation of City College of San Francisco might be just the tip of the iceberg. Harris told the Business Times that as many as 20 California schools could be facing accreditation challenges in the not-so-distant future. While Harris did not name specific school names in his warning, he admitted the problems facing City College could plague many other schools in the state.
In July, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) announced it would be pulling City College’s accreditation at the end of the current academic year in 2014. The commission cited a number of reasons for the decision, including a confusing structure of governance and lack of financial accountability. Other factors that led to the action by the commission included support services, facilities and teaching standards that were not compliant with the commission’s requirements in these areas.
As one solution to the problem,
We take a look at the latest annual college rankings from Washington Monthly, which provide a list of the top community colleges in the country as well as four-year schools.
The rankings are out from Washington Monthly, giving prospective students and their parents a snapshot of some of the top-performing community colleges in the country for 2013. This publication is one of the few that includes community colleges in their overall rankings of postsecondary institutions. In addition, the publication uses slightly different criteria for ranking schools, which may make this list noteworthy to those trying to gain a complete picture of a community college before shelling out that first tuition payment.
Unique Metrics Set New Rankings Apart
According to the Christian Science Monitor, one of the factors that sets the Washington Monthly rankings apart from the rest is the somewhat unique metrics used to rate colleges. Instead of focusing merely on admission difficulty and reputation, this ranking system uses criteria like commitment to research and service, and social mobility. The publication also includes a “best bang for your buck” category for four-year schools that ranks them according to the price paid for a degree vs. what graduates can expect to get back in return.
The fact that Washington Monthly provides a ranking of community colleges also sets this annual list apart from the rest. Although two out of every five college students opt for community college after high school, few ranking systems provide this type of information for these schools. However, as community colleges continue to increase in popularity among high school graduates and working adults alike, the need for this type of information grows as well.
Benchmarks from CCSSE
After City College of San Francisco loses its accreditation, other community colleges in the state are facing warnings, sanctions and possible loss of accreditation as well.
Before the dust even settles on problems faced by City College of San Francisco, other California community colleges may be facing similar challenges. The largest community college in the state was recently notified it would lose its accreditation by next summer. Now, other schools in the state are dealing with warnings, sanctions and possible loss of accreditation as well. What does the future hold for community colleges in the Golden State?
Accreditation Reviews Hit the State
The Accrediting Commission for Junior and Community Colleges (ACJCC) has been busy in recent months, reviewing California schools and making recommendations for follow-up action as needed. The comprehensive process resulted in the termination of accreditation for City College of San Francisco, the largest community college in the state with a student population of 85,000. In addition, other schools have been issued warnings and one was placed on probation after the review was completed.
The news is not all bad in California, however. Some community colleges in the state also had warnings upgraded to lighter sanctions, or had the warnings removed altogether. While the list of schools recently reviewed is a long one, we’ll take a look at a few of the highlights of the report that shed light on the state of the California Community College System overall.
Community Colleges Working Through Sanctions
Two community colleges in the state will begin the process of working through their list of recommendations to get their sanctions removed by next summer. The Los Angeles Daily News reports that
We report on the latest developments at City College of San Francisco that have resulted in the school’s loss of accreditation and impending shut-down.
The largest community college in California is destined to meet a dire fate one year from now if heroic efforts to save the school are not successful. City College of San Francisco was recently notified by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges that it will lose accreditation by July 31, 2014. Although the school has few options left, extreme moves are in the works that could be the last hope for saving the failing school.
11 of 14 Changes Go Unaddressed
Problems for City College date far beyond the recent announcement of accreditation loss. San Francisco Gate reported that the commission evaluated the school in 2012, and made 14 recommendations for improvements that would save the school's accreditation status. Those 14 recommendations included:
- A revised mission statement for the school
- Use of the mission statement to allocate resources, with an increase of reserves
- An assessment of the college’s effectiveness
- Evaluations of all staff members responsible for student success
- Determination of whether there is sufficient staff to ensure student success
- Identification of priorities in-class curriculum and effectiveness of current courses and programs
- Assessment of whether student support services are hitting the mark
- Development of an effective planning process
- Leadership training for all staff and faculty members
- Reporting of financial information through a timely, accurate process
- Inclusion of building operating costs in long-term financial planning
- Development of a plan for maintaining and updating information systems
- Improvement of a governance structure for more efficient decision-making
- Adherence to bylaws and policies by college trustees
In this video, California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris
We explore the reasons behind the recent probation of Pima Community College, and what the Arizona school plans to do to bring their credentials back up to par once again.
In the midst of major turnover from the top-down, Pima Community College is now on probation. The Arizona school has been notified by its accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, that it has two years to turn things around or lose its accreditation status. With an executive team in limbo and reports of poor – and even unethical – management in recent years, it looks like Pima has its work cut out for the next two probationary years.
Problems from the Top Down
Tucson News Now reports that the problems at Pima that resulted in probation may have initiated by top administration officials. The publication specifically cites allegations of sexual harassment against Ray Flores, the former chancellor of the school, which were left unaddressed by school administrators for a number of years. The commission investigating the school also found a “hostile working environment” was reported by many staff members of the community college.
Other issues reported by the Arizona Daily Star include corrupt contracting practices. Executives of the school have been accused of approving expensive contracts without going through the appropriate bidding process. Throughout the accusations of mismanagement, there is a common thread of a culture cultivated of “fear and retribution” and an ineffective governing body that failed to address concerns or manage situations that made it challenging to work at the college.
This video reports on Pima Community College facing probation.
Report Specifics that Led to Probation
Inside Higher Ed reports that the four-member
Learn about how the community college tuition hikes in the next year may be greater than the rate of inflation.
In light of the huge budget cuts facing California community colleges, class rationing is now on the table as one option to help schools stay in the black. Is it right, fair or even practical? We’ll explore the issue.
Learn about how some convicted criminals abused community colleges' financial aid programs and why Congress has decided to prohibit criminals from being eligible for future aid.