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SMCC Noted for “Genuine Effort” in HLC Quality Initiative Report

Entering into its accreditation year in 2020, South Mountain Community College has already received early positive feedback as the Higher Learning Commission announced this week that it has accepted the college’s Quality Initiative Report Guiding Pathways and Strategic Scheduling and confirmed SMCC’s “genuine effort” on this project.

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) expects that institutions are always engaged in quality improvement and requires an institution to designate one major improvement effort it has undertaken as its Quality Initiative for reaffirmation of accreditation. In this project, it encourages colleges to take risks and innovate, meaning that while failure is acceptable in the eyes of the commission, what is not acceptable is not making a genuine attempt at success.

For SMCC, this improvement work centered on guided pathways, and implementing processes that help streamline a student’s experience at the college. Making it all work also involves creating a process for strategic scheduling that is aligned with both pathway maps and budget constraints. Together, this allows for the college to create a tailored class schedule that helps student succeed without wasting time and money on unnecessary classes.

The report summarizing the college’s efforts was submitted to the HLC on April 12, 2019, and the findings indicated that the college demonstrated its seriousness in its undertaking, that the initiative had scope and impact, that the college was committed to the work, and that it had provided adequate resources to make it successful.

For SMCC, guided pathways has long been an important part of its transformation efforts. In fact, as an early adopter of guided pathways, SMCC is now sharing its materials and insights with colleagues at all of the other Maricopa colleges.

As the review concluded, “the SMCC Guided Pathways QI Project will significantly inform and shape the direction of the District.”

SMCC is up for accreditation in 2020. This year, the college will submit an assurance argument, supported by detailed artifacts or evidentiary documents, to the HLC. On February 10-11, 2020, the college will host HLC representatives as they engage in a campus visit to verify claims and validate the college’s continued accreditation.