Accrediting Processes and Institutional Effectiveness at a California Community College
The implementation of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges’ (ACCJC) 2002 Accreditation Standards significantly increased the number of sanctions on California community colleges resulting in a debate regarding the interpretation and application of the standards. This study examined the perceptions at a community college regarding compliance and the application of ACCJC’s 2002 Standard IB on institutional effectiveness as defined by the Commission. This qualitative, exploratory case study used Etzioni’s 2 constructs—organizational compliance and organizational effectiveness—as the conceptual framework. Data were collected from a focus group and interviews with 12 participants with experience in accreditation as well as documents from a community college in California. A constant comparative method analysis was used to identify 4 main themes: negative perceptions, relevance, integration, and efficacy. The study findings showed that the prevailing climate of the ACCJC and the negative perceptions held by the institutional participants presented challenges in interpreting and applying Standard IB. The scope and pervasiveness of accreditation-related activities are broad and inclusive of institutional stakeholders. Recommendations for improving the congruence between the understanding and application of Standard IB include applying innovative approaches to application efforts and building on the social capital of community colleges, so as to further promote positive social change by guiding institutions through the cultivation of efficacy for student success.