Higher Learning Commission


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Systems Portfolio

The Systems Portfolio covers the six AQIP Categories, describing processes, results, and improvement in each system, and shows evidence that the institution continues to meet HLC's five Criteria for Accreditation.

Systems Portfolios and Systems Appraisals

AQIP calls upon institutions to undergo a Systems Appraisal every four years. This is an opportunity for an institution to get expert, objective, third-party feedback on its strengths and opportunities for improvement. In turn, institutions gain insight in determining the next targets for advancing quality in the institution through Action Projects and other plans.

The Systems Appraisal is based on a Systems Portfolio assembled by the institution during the first four years of its participation in AQIP. The Portfolio presents an overview of the institution, and answers explicitly all of the questions under each of the six AQIP Categories.

In combination with the Strategy Forum and Action Projects, which drive concrete improvement activities within the institution, the Systems Portfolio and Systems Appraisal are a means of taking stock of the continuous improvement.

Assembling a Systems Portfolio

Systems Portfolio Overview (August 2014)

Systems Portfolio Structure and AQIP Categories (April 2014)

The Systems Portfolio will explicate each of the major systems the institution currently employs to accomplish its mission and objectives. Most Systems Portfolios will be web-based hypertext documents, and they may have connections and links to other resources, but a Systems Portfolio itself is limited in length to the equivalent of 125 pages.

To present its systems, the institution will answer specific questions for each of the AQIP Categories. For each system, the questions deal with processes, results, and improvement. The completed Systems Portfolio will be shared, electronically or in print, with all of the institution’s faculty, staff, and administrators and with the public served by the institution.

Once assembled, the Systems Portfolio serves as an up-to-date account of the key systems and processes. The completed Systems Portfolio should effectively supply the institution with a credible, ready-to-use accountability report for all constituencies interested in institutional performance—specialized accrediting agencies, state regulators, funding and grant agencies, voters, legislators, and various public groups.

The Systems Portfolio also serves as a common ground for internal discussions of where and how to best direct efforts for improvement. If dissention and conflict now result from differing perceptions of where current strengths and opportunities lie, having a shared, believable foundation for discussion can be invaluable. The Systems Portfolio also informs newcomers to the institution—both potential employees and new representatives of critically important stakeholder groups—with a quickly absorbable picture of how the institution works and what it is achieving.

Systems Portfolio Content

The Systems Portfolio consists of an Institutional Overview and sections on each of the AQIP Categories. The Institutional Overview presents a picture that helps readers understand the institution's key strengths, ambitions, distinctions, and advantages, and explains the challenges, competitors, contests, and conflicts.

Because of the central importance of educational design and delivery processes, the Helping Students Learn section will occupy twice the space of any of the other Categories in the Portfolio.


Pathways for Reaffirmation of Accreditation

Choosing a Pathway

Standard Pathway

Open Pathway


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