Le Moyne College may be in jeopardy of losing its accreditation from the country’s leading organization, Middle States Commission of Higher Education, because Le Moyne has not been able to prove sufficient evidence of student learning.
Middle States provides accreditations to more than 525 institutions all over the world and stated that Le Moyne, “May be in jeopardy because of insufficient evidence that the institution is currently in compliance with Standard 14 [Assessment of Student Learning],” in a warning issued to Le Moyne in June.
To comply with Middle States and to remain accredited, Le Moyne has formed an institutional assessment committee, hired a dean of learning assessment, and evaluated each program and student work.
“Students themselves are not assessed; it’s samples of student work,” said Professor Jim Hannan, Dean of Learning Assessment. “Most departments are looking at work that students have done, but in this case, they are not grading the students, they are looking at it for examples of student work, for specific elements. They are looking for evidence that students have met a particular outcome and based upon what they see, they set standards and benchmarks.”
The college has a deadline of March 1 to file a report with Middle States, where Le Moyne will be responsible for fulfilling a monitoring report of all the efforts and progress that has been accomplished so far this year. By Dec. 22, Hannan has asked all departments to report where they stand, as he and the institutional committee will then form the report out of this information.
Soon after, a team from Middle States will then visit to pay specific attention to Standard 14. The visit will see how the assessment has progressed and what its results are thus far.
According to “Media Backgrounder 2016,” by Richard J. Pokrass, the Middle States Commission is an organization which provides assurance that institutions are providing an excellent education effectively. The review to obtain or continue maintaining this accreditation is completed in 10-year cycles, as the institutions must complete the peer review process within their own establishments.
Each institution must be in line with all 14 standards set in place by Middles States to maintain or earn an accreditation. The commissioners within this organization meet three times a year to evaluate each institution’s status of their individual accreditation, to look over each one.
Standard 14 is stated as the “assessment of student learning demonstrates that, at graduation, or other appropriate points, the institution’s students have knowledge, skills, and competencies consistent with institutional and appropriate higher education goals,” when summarized in the “Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education” document.
“This standard  ties together those assessments into an integrated whole to answer the question, ‘Are our students learning what we want them to learn?’” the criteria says.
The assessment of Le Moyne begins as a self-study, soon followed by a team that visits, looking at the college’s reports and the campus, as well as areas of improvements and strengths. All of this also evaluates how the college is living out its mission.
The Middle States team deemed that overall the college needed to be more consistent and assertive within this standard.
“The way that they determined that we could best address that mandate was by taking a good, hard, comprehensive look at all the learning outcomes for each of our programs within a two-year timeframe,” said Provost Joseph Marina.
In this time, the two-year objectives are being analyzed, as each program is being evaluated in how they achieve these objectives.
Through this, professors are able to see what percentage of students are able to achieve a certain level of proficiency, allowing them to see if adjustments need to be made to the curriculum.
“This is a faculty-driven process so it’s highly important that the faculty are participating in this,” Hannan said.
“The administration is the central part, and really needs to give a good, hard look at this and remember it’s vital for the life of the college because even though we are working within this two-year time frame, once we get to the end of that period, this is not over,” Marina said. “We do not simply say, ‘Okay, let’s go back to how it was: business as usual.’ We move on from that point as a stronger and a better college.”