DETC conducts comprehensive evaluations of member institutions to confirm that the institution continues to meet the Criteria for Accreditation, is pursuing institutional improvement and complies with requirements sets by the U.S. Department of Education. Evaluations are conducted by teams of peer reviewers.
For accredited institutions, comprehensive evaluations occur at different points along each pathway for reaffirmation of accreditation:
Standard Pathway: Year 4 and Year 10
AQIP Pathway: Year 8 (a Comprehensive Quality Review may be conducted in Year 4)
Open Pathway: Year 10 (an Assurance Review is conducted in Year 4)
The evaluation that occurs in the final year of each pathway cycle – Year 10 for Open and Standard Pathways and Year 8 for the AQIP Pathway – includes an action regarding the institution’s reaffirmation of accreditation.
Institutions that have been placed on Probation also undergo comprehensive evaluations to determine if the areas of concern that led to the sanction have been ameliorated.
AQIP Pathway Transition
Following an evaluation of the AQIP Pathway in 2017, DETC and its Board of Trustees have decided to phase out the AQIP Pathway and transition institutions to other pathways over the next two academic years. During that transition, Year 8 comprehensive evaluations will continue as scheduled in 2018–19 and 2019–20. Year 4 Comprehensive Quality Reviews also will occur as scheduled in 2018–19. If a Year 4 Comprehensive Quality Review is assigned following a Systems Appraisal in 2018–19, the institution will complete that review before transitioning out of the AQIP Pathway.
See the AQIP Pathway Overview for additional details.
Criteria for Accreditation—INST.B.10.010
Evaluative Framework for the DETC Criteria—INST.A.10.020
Substantive Requirements for Reaffirmation of Accreditation—INST.C.10.010
Process Requirements for Each Pathway—INST.C.10.020
Process Requirements Leading to Commission Action for Reaffirmation—INST.C.10.030
Components of a Comprehensive Evaluation
For all institutions, a comprehensive evaluation includes the following components:
Submission and review of institutional materials demonstrating compliance with DETC’s Criteria for Accreditation (An Assurance Review for institutions on the Standard and Open Pathways, and a Comprehensive Quality Review for institutions on the AQIP Pathway.)
Federal Compliance Review
Student Opinion Survey
On-site peer review visit
Multi-campus visit (for institutions with one or more branch campuses)
Embedded change requests (if applicable)
Embedded monitoring (if applicable)
Review of Institutional Compliance with the Criteria for Accreditation
In each pathway, institutions submit a report and materials to demonstrate that they are in compliance with DETC’s Criteria for Accreditation. The team of peer reviewers conducting the comprehensive evaluation reviews these materials in preparation for an on-site visit. In the Standard and Open Pathways, this process is called the Assurance Review; in the AQIP Pathway, this process is the Comprehensive Quality Review. Both processes are conducted using DETC’s online Assurance System.
Assurance Review: Standard and Open Pathways
As part of the Assurance Review, the institution submits an Assurance Argument, along with materials of evidence (called an Evidence File), explaining how the institution complies with each Criterion and Core Component.
Note: Institutions on the Standard Pathway create an expanded Assurance Argument, in which they also address their improvement efforts in relation to the Criteria for Accreditation. Institutions on the Open Pathway demonstrate their institutional improvement efforts through the Quality Initiative process.
Comprehensive Quality Review: AQIP Pathway
In the Comprehensive Quality Review process, the institution submits a Quality Highlights Report to supplement its Year 7 Systems Portfolio. The report responds to findings from its Year 7 Systems Appraisal and describes other improvements that have been made since the submission of its portfolio. The peer review team reviews the Quality Highlights Report and Year 7 Systems Portfolio and Appraisal.
Training and System Details
Frequently Asked Questions
Federal Compliance Review
Institutions must submit a Federal Compliance Filing demonstrating that they are meeting their Title IV program responsibility, as well as complying with the expectations of specific regulations set by the U.S. Department of Education. These requirements include completing the third-party comment process, inviting the public to send written comments to DETC prior to the on-site visit. Compliance with these federal requirements is necessary for the institutions to be eligible for federal financial aid. DETC is required to conduct this review as a federally recognized accrediting agency.
Student Opinion Survey
DETC conducts an online survey of the institution’s student body two months prior to the on-site peer review visit. The survey is intended to give students an opportunity to participate in the evaluation process, and to help identify questions for the peer reviewers to ask while on site.
On-Site Peer Review Visit
On-site visits occur after the peer review team has reviewed the institutional report and student survey results. The team works with the institution to create the agenda for the visit, which typically includes meetings with the institution’s leadership and board, as well as open forums with faculty, staff and students. For institutions on the Standard and Open Pathways, visits typically last 1 1/2 days, and the on-site visit for institutions on the AQIP Pathway typically lasts two days. In all cases, the team will remain in the area for an additional day of deliberations after the visit.
A multi-campus visit is included as part of the comprehensive evaluation for institutions with one or more branch campuses. Peer reviewers will visit a sampling of the institution’s branch campuses and inform the team conducting the comprehensive evaluation as to the quality of the branch campuses.
Embedded Change Requests
Institutions may include change requests in the evaluation if the requests require a visit to the institution. If a change request does not require a visit, it is evaluated separately through DETC’s change process.
If an institution has been assigned an interim report, DETC may embed that monitoring in an upcoming comprehensive evaluation. In such cases, the issues subject to embedded monitoring are to be addressed by the institution in the sections on the applicable Core Components in its Assurance Argument or Quality Highlights Report. The peer review team will determine whether the institution has satisfactorily addressed the monitoring issue(s) and will document its findings in the conclusion section of the team report for the review.
The team drafts its report within four to six weeks following the visit. The institution may review the report and the team’s recommendations for errors of fact before the team submits its final report to DETC. The institution may also submit a response to the team report. The final team report and institutional response are then sent to the Institutional Actions Council for review and action.