Saturday, June 23, 2018
The RP Group

Focusing Accreditation on Quality Improvement

Timeline: 2010-2011


With accreditation reaffirmation comes the opportunity for quality assurance and continuous quality improvement -- a chance to focus on organizational excellence and student success. In 2011, the RP Group conducted a research project that offered contextual information about accreditation policies and practices nationwide and sought to engender a productive discussion among the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College (ACCJC), the state's community colleges, and key constituent groups about how these findings might assist in optimizing the accreditation process for true quality improvement.


The research offered a series of key findings regarding how commissions might: (a) set the stage for quality improvement, (b) develop their relationship with member colleges, (c) support institutions in achieving reaffirmation, (d) consistently apply standards and effectively use sanctions throughout a review and (e) generate a positive return on an institution's investment. 

At the same time, this study also recognized that colleges and their constituent groups have an important role in supporting quality improvement, and specifically addressed the responsibilities of institutions in the accreditation process.

The RP Group shared its research findings with a broad range of stakeholders including ACCJC staff; the chief executive officers, chief instructional officers, chief student service officers, and trustee boards; the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges' Executive Committee; the California Community Colleges Chancellor's cabinet; and the Consultation Council's accreditation taskforce. 

All parties were eager to explore ways to enhance the accreditation process and improve the relationship between ACCJC and the colleges. Additionally, clear themes emerged during these discussions about specific changes that would ensure accreditation fosters excellence and ensures that minimum standards are consistently met. 

These suggested changes involved amending existing standards and accreditation processes; strengthening training and support; and building collaborations among constituency groups, colleges, and accrediting agencies to provide this support.

RP Group Lead

Dr. Robert Gabriner

RP Group Project Team Members

Dr. Darla Cooper, Kelley Karandjeff, EdM, Diane Rodriguez-Kiino



The Walter S. Johnson Foundation

Reports and Briefs

Focusing Accreditation on Quality Improvement: Findings from an Exploration of Community College Accreditation Policies and Practices

Research report offering contextual information about accreditation policies and practices nationwide; designed to engender discussion among key stakeholders about how these findings might assist in optimizing the accreditation process for true quality improvement.

Guides and Tools

Discussing Accreditation: Findings, Discussion Questions, and Report Back from the Field on Community College Accreditation Policies and Practices

Discussion guide promoting further dialogue how to achieve quality assurance and quality improvement through the accreditation process; incorporates feedback gathered through conversations with key constituents on accreditation research.

News and Events

This project is complete. Visit "Related Projects" below to learn about our other initiatives in this project's area(s) of impact.



  • Focus Populations: California community colleges
  • Status: Complete
  • Contact: Dr. Darla Cooper, Director of Research and Evaluation,

Areas of Impact


Related Projects