Higher Learning Commission gives Western praise during quality assessment
Published on Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Western Technical College received a positive report during a recent Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) site visit. The college was among the first of 125 higher education institutions in the nation to host the on-site visit as part of the AQIP re-accreditation process.
AQIP is an alternative approach to re-accreditation administered through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. The AQIP path to re-accreditation is designed to work in tandem with an institution’s continuous quality improvement program. Western has been using the Malcolm Baldrige Framework for Performance Excellence since 1999 to improve the quality of its programs and services; AQIP was implemented in 2000.
Last week, an AQIP Quality Checkup Team spent three days at Western meeting with administration, faculty, staff, and students. The purpose of the site visit was to confirm that the college is engaged in the continuous improvement process. The evaluators focused on four areas: Assessment of Student Learning; Leadership and Communication; Building Collaborative Relationships; and Alignment Among Planning, Data Collection, Monitoring, and Improvement Processes.
In its final report, the Quality Checkup team stated, “Throughout the organization there is enthusiasm for the continuous quality improvement processes that are being used to move toward the goals set by the college. A ‘culture of quality’ acts as a continuous thread throughout the fabric of Western Technical College.”
During comments to the college faculty and staff, evaluator Merlin Lewis cited a specific example of their evaluation. “The self assessment that Western Technical College conducts is the best I’ve ever seen in all the colleges I’ve visited. Many organizations don’t understand how to assess (their effectiveness). What you are doing is very impressive.”
Lewis also noted that during interviews with students, they said they are prepared for jobs when they leave Western. “They were consistently specific about what they are learning and had the portfolios to show their work.”
“We are very proud of the results of the site visit,” said Lee Rasch, president of Western Technical College. “It confirms that we continue to provide our students with the essential experience they need to reach their goals.”
A copy of the Quality Checkup report will be included in the materials considered by the AQIP Review Panel during Western’s Reaffirmation of Accreditation scheduled for 2007.
For information about Western Technical College programs and services, please call 608.785.9200 or visit the Web site at wwtc.edu.