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.

Fifth Year Interim Report

HCC’s reaffirmation of accreditation was received from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in 2012.  SACSCOC developed the Fifth Year Interim Report to respond to the U.S. Department of Education’s requirements (1) that accrediting bodies continuously monitor institutions to ensure compliance with SACSCOC standards and requirements and (2) that accrediting bodies have a mechanism for reviewing multiple sites initiated since last reaffirmation.  HCC’s Fifth Year Interim Report will be due to SACSCOC in September 2017 (five years after HCC’s last reaffirmation). 

The Fifth Year Interim Report does not cover every SACSCOC standard or requirement, but the potential consequences of the report are the same as those of the Compliance Report HCC wrote for the 2012 SACSCOC reaffirmation of accreditation.  The Fifth Year Interim Report that HCC submits to SACSCOC might be accepted with no further questions, monitoring reports on some standards or requirements might be requested, or the institution might be sanctioned.

Because of the weight attached to the Fifth Year Interim Report, HCC has created committees (called “workgroups”) to study each standard or requirement that SACSCOC requires be addressed in the Report and to write a compliance narrative for each of them.  The workgroups began to meet and document HCC’s compliance with each standard or requirement in January 2016.  The first draft of each compliance narrative is due to the office of the Vice Chancellor of Instructional Services in January 2017. 

The QEP Impact Report forms a section of the Fifth Year Interim Report.  The QEP Director and Assistant Director will submit their draft of the QEP Impact Report to the office of the Vice Chancellor of Instructional Services in August 2017 when HCC’s QEP (described elsewhere on this web page) officially ends.

Fifth Year Interim Report Workgroups

Timeline for Fifth Year Interim Report

Specialty Accreditations

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



Accreditation Agency

Accelerated Teacher Certification Program

Texas Education Agency (TEA) and State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC)


Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP)

Automotive Technology

National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF)

Banking – Finance

American Bankers Association and the American Institute of Banking

Business Administration

Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP)

Business Technology

Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP)

Child Development

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

Construction Technology

The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)

Continuing Nursing Education (School of Continuing Education)

Texas Nurses Association (TNA)

Corrections Education Program (Adult Education)

Correctional Education Association

Criminal Justice/Police Science

Texas Commission on Law Enforcement

Culinary Arts - Baking & Pastry

The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation (ACFEF) 

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 Educational Programs (CAAHEP)

Electronics Engineering Technology

Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (TAC/ABET)

Emergency Medical Services

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs (CAAHEP)

Fire Protection and Safety Technology

Texas Commission on Fire Protection

Fire Science/Firefighting

Texas Commission on Fire Protection

Health Information Technology

Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)

Histologic Technician

National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)

Hospitality Administration

Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA)

Industrial Electricity

The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)

Interior Design

National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA); Certified Interior Decorators International (C.I.D.)

International Business

Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP)


Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP)

Medical Assistant

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs (CAAHEP)

Medical Laboratory Technician

National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)

Nuclear Medicine Technology

Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology


Approval by the Texas Board of Nursing (TBON); Candidacy status for the ACEN (NLN) Accreditation 

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education

Pharmacy Technician

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists

Physical Therapist Assistant

Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education

Professional Counselor (School of Continuing Education)

Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (TSBPC)

Public Safety (School of Continuing Education)

Texas Commission on Law Enforcement


Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT)

Respiratory Therapist/Technology

Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC)

Social Work (School of Continuing Education)

Texas State Board of Social Workers Examiners (TSBSWE)

Surgical Technology

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs (CAAHEP)

Transportation (School of Continuing Education)

Professional Truck Driving Institute

Vocational Nursing

Texas Board of Nursing

Welding Technology

The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)

Substantive Change

Substantive Change

Date Approved/Updated: October 2011; May 2014
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


Purpose: The purpose of aHouston 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 Substantive Change for Accredited Institutions of the Commission on Colleges: Policy Statement, located online at:

Responsibility: Responsibility for notifying SACSCOC of substantive changes that have occurred or will occur officially rests with the HCC SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison. In 2013, the Chancellor appointed the Director of Accreditation Compliance as the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison and SACSCOC approved this change.

Responsible party Area of responsibility
Accreditation Complianec Director/SACSCOC Accreditation Liason Overall substantive change process



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.



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

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

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.



• 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

• 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