The Quality Checkup requires two or more evaluators and occupies two or more days on campus. The size of the team and the duration of the visit depend on the institution’s size and complexity, and the number and seriousness of the issues the team is to examine. If issues to be covered are complicated or the institution is complex, a larger team and longer visit may be warranted.
The leader or a team member of an organization’s last Systems Appraisal may serve as an evaluator. The AQIP Reviewers and consultant-evaluators with experience in the PEAQ process prepare for the visit by reviewing relevant organizational and AQIP file materials, particularly the organization’s last Systems Appraisal Feedback Report and the Commission’s internal Organizational Profile, which summarizes information reported by the institution in its Institutional Update. At least four weeks prior to the visit, the institution provides a report (as specified below) to AQIP, which is shared with the evaluators. Visits normally occur in the three-year period prior to an organization’s scheduled Reaffirmation of Accreditation, but additional visits (with or without this component) may be requested by an organization at any time.
Goals of the AQIP Quality Checkup Visit
- Affirming the accuracy of the organization’s online Systems Portfolio and verifying included information
- Reviewing, with organizational leaders, Action Projects and strategies identified to capitalize on the strengths and opportunities for improvement
- Assuring continuing organizational quality improvement commitment
- Confirming the institution’s compliance with accreditation expectations and counseling the institution concerning any issues that require immediate attention
- Reviewing and updating the relationship between the institution and the Commission
Third-Party Comment on an Upcoming Visit
The Commission has required institutions to publish basic information about their visits in appropriate publications and invite the public to provide written comments to the Commission. The Commission will forward these comments to the evaluation team to include in its review of the institution.
Components of the AQIP Quality Checkup Site Visit:
Systems Portfolio Clarification and Verification
The Quality Checkup visit will affirm the accuracy of the organization’s online Systems Portfolio and verify information included in the Portfolio that the last Systems Appraisal has identified as needing clarification or verification. Before the visit, the evaluator will identify eight to twelve items or issues from the Systems Portfolio to verify or clarify, and will identify a potential strategy (whom to interview, what records to inspect, etc.) that would serve to resolve these questions. During the visit, the evaluator will conduct spot checks following this agenda, and will summarize findings using a form provided by AQIP, a copy of which will be presented to and discussed with the organization before the conclusion of the AQIP Quality Checkup visit. A major goal of this component of the visit is to provide the organization with information that will enable it to modify its Systems Portfolio to be a more effective, more credible, better-understood presentation of the organization’s processes and performance results.
Systems Appraisal Follow-Up
This component involves a formal review, with organizational leaders, of the Strategic Issues Analysis received by the organization as part of its last Systems Appraisal. The goal is to make certain that the organization has understood all issues raised by the Strategic Issues Analysis, and to understand and confirm the strategy adopted by the organization in order to capitalize on the advice provided it via the Systems Appraisal.
The report created by this segment of the Quality Checkup visit will be a supplement to the Strategic Issues Analysis and should serve to both inform and reassure the organization and AQIP that they will both enter the Reaffirmation of Accreditation review with a full understanding of the organization’s strategy for advancing its quality improvement initiative.
Organizational Quality Commitment
The evaluators conducting the Quality Checkup visit will have a variety of occasions to interact with personnel from the organization and should use these opportunities to assess the strength and direction of the organization’s commitment to systematic quality improvement, and to answer the organization’s questions about the processes and expectations of AQIP and The Higher Learning Commission. There should be at least one public meeting scheduled to which organizational administrators, faculty, staff, students, and other constituencies are invited, at which the AQIP Evaluators make a short explanatory presentation about the most recent and the next steps in the organization’s involvement in AQIP and answer questions from those present. (Separate sessions can be scheduled for specific groups, or groups can be mixed in larger sessions.)
The result of this segment of the Quality Checkup visit is a commentary, by the evaluators, on the strength and momentum of the organization’s commitment to AQIP, and suggestions on how the organization might act to improve that commitment.
Accreditation Issues Follow-Up
This component involves a formal review, with organizational leaders, of the Accreditation Issues Analysis received by the organization as part of its last Systems Appraisal. The goal is to make certain that the organization has understood all issues raised by the Analysis and has either rectified them or is taking affirmative action to correct problems prior to its next scheduled Reaffirmation of Accreditation.
Prior to the AQIP Quality Checkup visit, the organization can provide written documentation of its actions if it believes that it has addressed and solved issues raised by the Accreditation Issues Analysis. This documentation will be shared with the evaluators, and, if persuasive, may eliminate items from the agenda that no longer require on-site review and discussion.
If there still exist areas of concern relating to accreditation requirements, these will be spelled out in detail for the institution's leadership and summarized in the report. These may either be evidentiary gaps (which can be filled by submitting appropriate evidence to the Commission) or potential areas of noncompliance, where action must be taken promptly in order to assure a successful Reaffirmation of Accreditation review. The report created by this segment of the Quality Checkup visit will supplement the last Systems Appraisal’s Accreditation Issues Analysis, and should serve to both inform and reassure the organization and AQIP that they will both begin the Reaffirmation of Accreditation review with a full understanding of any remaining issues and required evidence.
Commission Relationship Review
The SAS describes an institution’s relationship with the Commission. If the institution asks the team to consider recommending a change in the SAS Stipulations section, the institution’s freedom to open new off-campus program sites, and the institution’s freedom to offer new distance education degree programs, the team will evaluate the institution’s capacity to support the desired changes and make a recommendation in accord with its evaluation (generally limiting the particular degree programs an institution can offer).
Federal Compliance Review
The Commission expects its affiliated institutions to comply, if required, with the Title IV requirements of the Higher Education Reauthorization Act as amended in 1998. Therefore, institutions will provide for review and consideration to Quality Checkup visit evaluators the most recent default rates (and any default reduction plans approved by the Department of Education) and any other documents concerning the institution’s program responsibilities under Title IV of the Act, including any results of financial or compliance audits and program reviews.
See the Commission's Federal Compliance Guide.