Accreditation and Cerritos College

Laura Brown, Staff Writer

Cerritos College received three warnings by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges after an evaluation team visit on March 2014.

JoAnna Schilling, the accreditation liaison officer at Cerritos College, said, “It means that the education you are getting meets standards required for a higher education and assures that your credits transfer to other schools.”

To maintain accreditation, a college must submit a self-evaluation every six years, which is then followed up by a visiting team who writes a review on the school.

Andrea Wittig, a confidential representative at Cerritos College, said, “There are a number of processes that the school goes through throughout the six years [to maintain accreditation], but each school differs depending on the requirements.”

The warnings that were issued, were based on the institutions failure to correctly define the Student Learning Outcomes. Members of the governing boards not complying with the appropriate roles of the board and president and failure of the board to follow written policies regarding self-evaluation, items on board meeting agendas and board members visiting faculty and staff.

Typically, there is a one-year timeline in which schools must correct their issues but Cerritos was only given eight months.

In April, the visiting team will return to the campus to do a follow -up report and make sure the issues have been corrected.

“[Cerritos] is working diligently to address [ACCJC’s] concerns. [The Board] did not do anything illegal or wrong, there was just some confusion between the board and president roles,” Schilling said.

Cerritos is not the only school that is having accreditation issues. Many California Community Colleges have been receiving warnings since 2008 when ACCJC changed its policy and required institutions to fully meet all requirements.

Prior to 2008 ACCJC colleges only needed to partially meet all requirements to be accredited.

“The committee is cracking down [on its requirements] to catch up to the rest of the country which is more tough on its standards than California.”

Regardless of the results that will come from the April review, Cerritos is far from being shut down.

Wittig said, “[Losing accreditation] is a very lengthy process. It starts with a warning and must go through a variety of steps that take a very long time before [the institution] closes,”