The Northern Marianas College is ready for its upcoming “mock” accreditation visit, a process that will gauge the institution’s readiness for the actual team visit of the Accrediting Commission for Community Junior and Colleges in November.
NMC president Sharon Y. Hart, Ph.D., said the college has already identified an external evaluator who will perform the mock visit by the end of this month.
This person, Hart said, will review all materials related to NMC’s accreditation and meet all standard teams involved in developing the self-study report, which is due on Oct. 15.
The consulting evaluator will also do professional development for NMC employees.
Hart told Saipan Tribune that the external evaluator is also tasked to advise not only the management and standard teams but also the Board of Regents. These advices will pertain to all accreditation issues of the college.
“This individual will help us in setting the stage for the ACCJC visit [in October],” said Hart.
NMC was recently drawn into a sidebar crisis after the U.S. Department of Education stated that it plans to stop giving the college Title IV funds—NMC’s biggest source of federal financial aid—for having two accreditations, a violation of its policy. After weeks of appeal and consultations, NMC was able to convince the USDOE to extend the grants for 18 months.
Hart admitted that this issue took away five weeks from NMC’s focus on its accreditation work. Hart said, however, that all the effort paid off after they got the desired response from USDOE.
“Yes, a lot of time went into this [issue] but at the same time, it’s paid off. We still have a number of key individuals who remain focused in addressing accreditation requirements so I can say we’re pretty much on target on everything and we’re following our timeline,” said Hart.
NMC sought the services of an external evaluator in June to measure the college’s success in meeting the recommendations of the accrediting commission.
NMC was placed on show-cause status by ACCJC and is now simultaneously working on its show-cause report and preparing for the actual on-site visit.
Amanda Allen, NMC’s accreditation liaison officer, earlier said that many other institutions have used external evaluators to assess their accreditation visit readiness. Some colleges using similar services include the Guam Community College, Pasadena Community College, and Mt. Jacinto College.
Saipan Tribune learned that the mock site evaluator will work with college representatives in preparing for the kinds of questions and concerns that may be encountered during the actual site visit.
The evaluator will also use the ACCJC accreditation standards to prepare a report for NMC’s use, analyzing the adequacy of NMC to meet the ACCJC standards as indicated in the action letter issued in February this year.
The mock site evaluator looks for coherence between what the institution asserts in its show-cause report and mock site visit interviews, and what evidence it provides in support of its assertions.