Accreditation Compliance (SACSCOC)

The Houston Community College District is accredited as one body by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) to award the associate degree. SACSCOC is one of six nationally regional accreditation agencies recognized by the United States Department of Education. The Commission oversees accreditation of colleges in eleven southern states. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of the Houston Community College District.

The Houston Community College District was first admitted into membership in SACS on December 19, 1977. Accreditation was granted provisionally and yearly for five years until a full Self-Study was completed and reaffirmation of accreditation was received for the ten years following December 17, 1982. HCC received its last reaffirmation of accreditation in June 2012.

Specialty Accreditations

In addition to SACS accreditation, many individual programs are accredited by specialized accrediting agencies or professional associations:

 

  • Automotive Technology - National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF)
  • Child Development - National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
  • Clinical Laboratory Technician - National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
  • The AAS in Electronics Engineering Technology is accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org
  • Dental Assisting - Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association
  • Dental Hygiene - Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonography - Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health
  • Emergency Medical Services - Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP); Texas Department of State Health Services
  • Health Information Technology - Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education 
  • Histologic Technician - National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
  • Human Service Technology - Council for Standards in Human Service Education 
  • Medical Assistant - Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs
  • Nuclear Medicine Technology - Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology
  • Nursing - Texas Board of Nursing
  • Occupational Therapy Assistant - Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy 
  • Pharmacy Technician - American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists
  • Physical Therapist Assistant - Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education
  • Radiography - Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology
  • Respiratory Therapist - Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs
  • Surgical Technology - Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs
  • Vocational Nursing - Texas Board of Nursing

Substantive Change

Substantive Change

Date Approved/Updated: October 2011
Approval Body: Chancellor's Operations Team
Applicable Board Policy: A:9.2 Substantive Change

Background: Member institutions of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) are required to notify the Commission of changes in accordance with the substantive change policy and, when required, seek approval prior to the initiation of changes.  Further, member institutions are required to have a policy and procedure to ensure that all substantive changes are reported to the Commission in a timely fashion.

Definition: Substantive change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. Under federal regulations, substantive change includes

  • Any change in the established mission or objectives of the institution
  • Any change in legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution
  • The addition of courses or programs that represent a significant departure, either in content or method of delivery, from those that were offered when the institution was last evaluated
  • The addition of courses or programs of study at a degree or credential level different from that which is included in the institution’s current accreditation or reaffirmation.
  • A change from clock hours to credit hours
  • A substantial increase in the number of clock or credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program
  • The establishment of an additional location geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution offers at least 50 percent of an educational program.
  • The establishment of a branch campus
  • Closing a program, off-campus site, branch campus or institution
  • Entering into a collaborative academic arrangement such as a dual degree program or a joint degree program with another institution
  • Acquiring another institution or a program or location of another institution
  • Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out program for a closed institution
  • Entering into a contract by which an entity not eligible for Title IV funding offers 25% or more of one or more of the accredited institution’s programs

Purpose: The purpose of a Houston Community College (HCC) Substantive Change Procedure is to ensure HCC compliance with SACSCOC policy on substantive change as detailed in The Principles of Accreditation:  Foundations for Quality Enhancement, Principle 3.12.  Rules for substantive change and the notification procedures are to be found in the Substantive Policy Statement.

Responsibility: Responsibility for notifying SACSCOC of substantive changes that have occurred or will occur officially rests with the HCC SACSCOC Liaison.  In 2007, the Chancellor designated the Vice Chancellor of Instruction as the HCC SACSCOC Liaison. The Vice Chancellor of Instruction has created a SACSCOC office within his administrative unit and has hired an Accreditation Compliance Director.  The Vice Chancellor of Instruction has delegated the responsibility for the substantive change reporting process to the Accreditation Compliance Director.

Responsible party Area of responsibility
SACSCOC Liaison (HCC Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs) Delegation of substantive change duties to Accreditation Compliance Director
Accreditation Compliance Director Overall substantive change process

 

 

 

 

 Steps to complete common types of Substantive Changes:

1. New programs, degrees, certificates or significant changes to the length of a program or certificate

Any program faculty proposing curriculum changes as described above must follow the procedures as detailed in the HCC Curriculum Handbook.

  1. New programs or significant changes to programs require a prospectus or modified prospectus as part of required documentation for approval.  The HCC template for preparation of the prospectus or modified prospectus is available at: http://www.curricunet.com/HCCS/forms.cfm
  2. Proposed curriculum changes that qualify as substantive changes will not be approved by the HCC Curriculum Committee without a prospectus.

If the curriculum change is approved, the chairman of the Curriculum Committee will copy the prospectus that accompanied the request for approval by the Curriculum Committee and forward the copy of the prospectus to the Accreditation Compliance Director.


The prospectus copy will be filed in the SACSCOC office until the next regular substantive change letter of notification is written to SACSCOC.  The prospectus in that file will provide the information needed to notify SACSCOC of substantive changes to the curriculum.

Responsible party Area of responsibility
Faculty proposing curriculum change Completion of form containing prospectus information; submitting it to the curriculum committee
Chairman of the Curriculum Committee Approval of proposed change; non-approval of proposed curriculum change without an accompanying prospectus; delivery of copy of prospectus to Accreditation Compliance Director
Accreditation Compliance Director Compilation of prospectuses to be sent to SACSCOC

 

2. Deactivated and closed programs and certificates (with or with-out teach-out agreements)

  1. Faculty (usually a program chair) notifies the HCC Curriculum Office of plans to close or deactivate programs or certificates so that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board can be notified.
  2. The CTE Director will notify the Accreditation Compliance Director’s office, in writing, of all plans to close or deactivate a program or certificate at the time the Coordinating Board is notified.  If there are students in the certificate or program, a teach-out plan must be submitted in writing to the Executive Director for Curriculum.
  3. The Accreditation Compliance Director will file all such notices and teach out plans until the next regular substantive change letter of notification is written to SACSCOC
Responsible party Area of responsibility
Program chair of deactivating certificate or program Notification of HCC Curriculum Office  of plans to close certificate or program
Executive Director for Curriculum Delivery of written notice and/or teach out agreement to Accreditation Compliance Director
Accreditation Compliance Director Compilation of notices and plans to be sent to SACSCOC

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. New Facilities, Instructional Sites or Campuses or relocation of any site

The SACSCOC office in Atlanta keeps a record of the name and address of every instructional site at which an HCC credit class is offered.  All sites are reported, both owned and leased; where credit or dual credit classes are offered.

  1. All major new facilities are approved by the HCC Board of Trustees.
  2. When a major new facility is approved, the Vice-Chancellor of Instruction (the SACSCOC Liaison) will give a copy of the Board Agenda page with the name and address of the facility to the Accreditation Compliance Director.
  3. The Accreditation Compliance Director will notify the President, the COO and the appropriate program or department chair (if applicable) if and when a prospectus for the new facility is needed and establish a deadline for the receipt of the prospectus in the Accreditation Compliance Director’s office.  This would be the case when a new site approaches the point at which students might earn 50percent of the program credits.
  4. The Accreditation Compliance Director will file the information about the new facility and the prospectus until next regular substantive change letter is written to SACSCOC.
  5. The Assistant Registrar maintains the tables in the PeopleSoft system for all instructional sites.  It is part of her regular process to notify the Accreditation Compliance Director of the name and address of any new instructional site that is added to PeopleSoft at any time.  This will notify the Accreditation Compliance Director of any instructional site added (including all dual credit high schools) even if it is not a major site that required HCC Board approval and at which not more than 50 percent of any program is offered
Responsible party Area of Responsibility
Vice-Chancellor of Instruction Notify Accreditation Compliance Director of new facilities approved by the HCC Board of Trustees
College President, COO, and Program Chair Preparation of prospectus for new facilities when instruction of 40percent of a program is offered
HCC Assistant Registrar Notify Accreditation Compliance Director of name and address of any new facility added to PeopleSoft for HCC instruction
Accreditation Compliance Director Compilation of names and addressed of all new instructional sites; work with college administrations on prospectuses for major sites

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Current sites that have reached the 25 percent and are approaching the 50 percent thresholds

SACSCOC will be notified by letter when the college begins to offer 25-49 percent of any program at a site.  The letter will contain the date on which the threshold was reached.  HCC will notify SACSCOC of a site reaching this mark in the college’s next substantive change letter.  A prospectus for a site and a substantive change letter to SACSCOC will be prepared when the college approaches the 50 percent threshold.

  1. The HCC PeopleSoft student system report “Schedule by Campus” collects data including individual classes offered at all sites, the date each class started, and the instructors’ names.
  2. The personnel in the Accreditation Compliance Director’s office will run a Schedule by Campus” report on the official day of record each semester (including flex entry dates within semesters) to determine if any site has crossed the 25 percent threshold or is approaching the 50 percent threshold that semester. 
  3. Site that have crossed the 25 percent threshold are listed with the date of the beginning of classes at that site that semester.  The list will be held in the Accreditation Compliance Director’s office until the next substantive change letter is mailed to SACSCOC.
  4. Because it is difficult to predict exactly when a site will exceed the 50 percent mark for any program and because HCC must notify SACSCOC six months in advance of such mark and provide a prospectus three months in advance, HCC will prepare a prospectus for all sites reaching 40 percent of instruction.  Half of an associate degree is 30 SCH or 10 courses.  Therefore a prospectus will be prepared when there are at least 8 general education courses offered at a site or a mixture of general education and workforce courses equaling or exceeding 24 SCH.
Responsible party Area of Responsibility
Accreditation Compliance Director Run the “Schedule by Campus” report on official day of record for each semester (including flex entry dates within semesters)
Accreditation Compliance Director Keep list of sites offering 25-40 percent of a program until that semester’s substantive change letter is written
Accreditation Compliance Director Determine if any site has crossed the 40 percent threshold and notify the colleges of need to prepare prospectus
College Deans and COO Prepare prospectus for sites that have crossed the 40 percent threshold and retune them to the Accreditation Compliance Director
Vice Chancellor for Instruction Prepare a substantive change letter for SACSCOC and notify it of sites that offer 25 percent of a program and send prospectuses for sites that have crossed the 40 percent threshold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Early college high schools

SACSCOC will be notified by letter of the initiation of an early college high school.  When more than 50 percent of any HCC program credit may be obtained at the high school SACSCOC must be sent a prospectus.  The HCC Board of Trustees must approve the MOU of any early college high school that is created.  The SACSCOC Liaison/Vice-Chancellor of Instruction attends all Board meetings and would be made aware of a new early college high school.  He notifies the Accreditation Compliance Director.  The Accreditation Compliance Director monitors the high school so that when it approaches the 50percent mark, the appropriate college president and COO can be notified to prepare a prospectus.

Responsible party Area of responsibility
SACSCOC Liaison/Vice-Chancellor of Instruction Notification of Accreditation Compliance Director of creation of new early college high school
Accreditation Compliance Director Monitor early college high school for requirements of letter of notification and/or prospectus

Substantive Change Procedure

Quality Enhancement Plan

HCC INSPIRE: Innovative Science Program Initiatives to Reform Education

As Houston Community College strives to be the most relevant community college in the nation, we have seized this opportunity to develop a comprehensive Quality Enhancement Plan that will transform the nature of HCC´s science education. Our QEP, “HCC INSPIRE”, boldly addresses the paradox that while many incoming HCC students arrive on campus increasingly unprepared for the rigors of science classes, science education itself must become more rigorous to meet the needs of an increasingly technological society.

HCC INSPIRE seeks to change the way we teach based on how our students learn, improving science education quality while invigorating student interest in scientific technological careers. At the same time, HCC INSPIRE will institutionalize new and existing resources, as well as, support crucial for student success, culminating in increasing numbers of high-quality science graduates and transfer-ready students

HCC INSPIRE: Actions and Goals

Over the last two decades many 4-year institutions have come to the conclusion that the traditional method for undergraduate science instruction – one professor lecturing to large groups of non-interacting students plus closed-ended “cookbook” lab exercises – is not the best way to foster deep conceptual understanding. Central to meaningful academic science course reform therefore is the incorporation of student-centered, real-world teaching strategies proven to foster student engagement, critical thinking, and higher-level scientific reasoning.

Besides widespread faculty development, successful implementation of these techniques at the community college level will necessitate simultaneous development of science student peer support systems, improvements in science student advising, and the creation of a customizable online toolbox of online learning modules for individualized science instruction (HCC eLearning Library):

Improved students learning, Engagement and Success in Sciences

  • Appy (Science Clubs)
  • Practice (Online Science Modules)
  • Prepare (Science First Year Success Coursel)

Goal 1: Ensure science course readiness
Activities include the design of a first-year science-based student success course.

Goal 2: Institutionalize real-world, active and collaborative learning in science courses
Activities include the implementation of learning modules in science courses that are real-world and problem-based.

Goal 3: Offer district-wide science enrichment opportunities
Activities include organization of science clubs that give students a chance to apply science knowledge outside of the classroom.

 

HCC INSPIRE: QEP Document

QEP Update Newsletters

HCC INSPIRE: Student Learning Outcomes

Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) for the science-based first-year success course

  • Students will demonstrate effective note-taking, text annotation, outlining and creation of graphic organizers to aid in the comprehension of scientific information
  • Students will demonstrate effective science vocabulary study skills
  • Students will be able to interpret scientific information, figures and tables
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the scientific method

Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) for the learning modules to be embedded in science courses

  • Students will be able to identify and demonstrate basic scientific principles and factual knowledge related to a real-world problem, research question or challenge
  • Students will be able to collect and correctly assess the validity of scientific information from a variety of sources
  • Students will be able to formulate a testable hypothesis and identify relevant variables
  • Students will be able to collect, analyze and correctly interpret scientific data
  • Students will be able to solve a real-world problem, answer a research question, or address a challenge
  • Students will be able to communicate scientific concepts, scientific principles and/or socio-scientific arguments in a real-world context through written, performance and/or oral presentations

Quality Enhancement Plan

Goal 1: Ensure science course readiness (science-based first-year success course)

  • Fall 2012 - Summer 2013 - Develop a science module for EDUC 1300
  • Fall 2013 - Committee approval for module
  • Spring 2014 - Fall 2014 - First year student success course instructor training
  • Spring 2014 - Pilot of science module in EDUC 1300
  • Summer 2014 - Science module becomes a part of selected EDUC 1300 sections district-wide

Goal 2: Institutionalize real-world, active and collaborative learning in science courses

  • Fall 2011 - Spring 2012 - Establish science faculty ListServs and Forum
  • Fall 2011 - Summer 2012 - Develop first learning modules for biology, chemistry, and physics
  • Spring 2012 - Spring 2016 - Camp INSPIRE once a semester for training, team building and dissemination of QEP information among science faculty district-wide.

Goal 3: Offer district-wide science enrichment opportunities

  • Fall 2012 - Establish a science club portal online for HCC web pages
  • 2012-2013 - Establish science clubs at all HCC colleges
  • 2012-2016 - Student engagement activities as part of the science clubs

 

QEP Director: Dr. A. Tineke Berends

Dr. A. Tineke Berends earned her PhD in Biochemistry at Texas A&M University, studying light-induced chloroplast gene expression.

After a post-doctoral fellowship at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, she joined Houston Community College as a biology instructor in 1995.

While the researcher may have been taken out of the lab, it has proven impossible to take the lab out of the researcher. Dr. Berends has never forgotten what got her excited about science in the first place, and she uses her background in basic research and interest in grant-writing to make her classes as real, relevant and hands-on as possible for her students.

She pioneered HCC’s genetics course and the use of in-class research as a learning tool. She is delighted to be the Principal Investigator on three consecutive USDA grants designed to bring biotechnology, genomics, X-ray diffraction and state-of-the-art research equipment to HCC Northwest. Dr. Berends also enjoys using her grant-funded biotech equipment lending library to provide outreach activities to local elementary, middle and high school kids.

Finally, considering HCC’s teaching-only status, she was both honored and excited to have the chance to serve on two recent federal research grant review panels in Washington, D.C.

QEP Definition and Rationale

The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is the component of the accreditation process that reflects and affirms the commitment of the SACS Commission on Colleges and the Houston Community College to the enhancement of the quality of higher education. It also affirms that student learning is at the heart of the mission of all institutions of higher learning.

By definition, the QEP document describes a carefully designed course of action that addresses a well-defined and focused topic or issue related to enhancing student learning. The document is comprised of the following components:

  • A Broad-based institutional process identifying key issues emerging from institutional assessment
  • Learning outcomes and/or the environment supporting student learning and accomplishing the mission of the institution
  • Institutional capability for the initiation, implementation of the QEP
  • A broad-based involvement of institutional constituencies in the development and proposed implementation of the QEP
  • Identification of goals and a plan to assess achievement

The QEP should become embedded in HCC’s ongoing integrated institution-wide planning and evaluation process.

Developing a QEP as a part of the reaffirmation process is an opportunity for HCC to enhance overall institutional quality and effectiveness by focusing on an issue or issues HCC considers important to improving student learning.

QEP Development and Current Administration

Faculty and Staff involvement has been a key factor in the development of our QEP, HCC INSPIRE: Innovative Science Program Initiatives to Reform Education.

The project began in 2010 by establishing:

  1. QEP Topic Suggestion Box, SACS Steering Committee
  2. QEP Development Committee

The QEP Development Committee held monthly brainstorming sessions that resulted in the QEP Development Meeting Notes, QEP Development Timeline and QEP Development News/Events, leading to the identification of a QEP topic.

Dr. Tineke Berends was hired in 2011 to direct the QEP. Her office is located on the Spring Branch campus of HCC's Northwest College. To reach her you may email tineke.berends at tineke.berends@hccs.edu.

A QEP Steering committee has been established to provide Dr. Berends direction for the QEP and to provide support. The QEP Steering committee does not meet regularly, but will meet at least once a semester during the life of the QEP (2011-2016).

QEP Steering Committee

Purpose:
To provide direction and support for HCC’s five-year QEP project (2011-2016). The QEP is called INSPIRE: Innovative Science Program Initiatives to Reform Education. The goals of the QEP are to ensure science course readiness among freshmen students, to institutionalize real-world, active and collaborative learning in HCC science courses, and to facilitate offering science enrichment opportunities to students outside of class.

Convener(s):

tineke.berends@hccs.edu

 

Members:
• Tineke Berends, QEP Director
• Judy Cantwell, Accreditation Compliance Director
• Charles Cook, Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs
• Steve Dessens, Program Coordinator, Chemistry
• David Diehl, Director, Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence
• Betty Fortune, Dean, Academic Development, Southwest College
• Nazanin Hebel, Program Coordinator, Biology
• Zachary Hodges, President, Northwest College
• Mahtash Moussavi, Science Department Chair, Southeast College
• Martha Oburn, Executive Director, Office of Institutional Research
• Beverly Perry, Natural Sciences Department Chair, Northeast College
• Juan Carlos Reina, Director Academic Resource Development
• Angela Secrest, Director, HCC Libraries
• Bart Sheinburg, Program Director, West Houston Center for Science
• Kumela Tafa, Program Coordinator, Physics

Meetings:
• Once a semester at the various colleges or 3100 Main.

Typical Agenda Items:
• Progress reports on module development
• Progress reports on science module development for EDUC 1300
• Brainstorming of potential science club activities and sources of funding
• Training development and ideas for Camp INSPIRE