HLC-Open Pathways Project
In 2010-11, Metropolitan Community College became one of several institutions selected
by the Higher Learning Commission to participate in the Open Pathways Project. The Pathways project is a proposed new model for continued accreditation.
According to HLC, the Open Pathway has the following goals:
- To enhance institutional value by opening the Improvement Process for stable, healthy
institutions so that they may choose Quality Initiatives to suit their current circumstances.
- To reduce the reporting burden on institutions by utilizing as much information and
data as possible from existing reports and collecting them in electronic for as they
naturally occur over time.
- To enhance rigor by using a system that checks institutional data annually, allows
for additional assurance review as needed, and looks in depth twice in the 10-year
- To integrate as much as possible all HLC processes and Commission requests for data
into the Assurance Process and continued accreditation cycle.
- To be as cost efficient as possible.
The project consists of two complementary components: (1) the Assurance Process, and
(2) the Improvement Process.
- Assurance Process
The Assurance Process consists of ongoing review and monitoring. Each year, the College
submits an Annual Institutional Data Update (AIDU) which allows the HLC to review
financial and non-financial indicators and follow up as needed. The process also consists
of a more formal review, occurring in years four and ten of the accreditation cycle.
The Assurance is based on evidence that is compiled and stored electronically. The
fourth-year review consists of analysis of the electronic evidence file and a telephone
or video conference, if needed. The tenth-year review adds a campus visit.
- Improvement Process (Quality Initiative)
To complete the Improvement Process, the institution designs a Quality Initiative
based on its own needs. The Quality Initiative includes a proposal that outlines the
project and details the expected outcomes. The proposal is reviewed by a set of peer
reviewers. Once approval occurs, the initiative is implemented. In general, initiatives
may begin in years 5 or 7 and must conclude by year 9 of the 10-year accreditation
cycle. Because MCC is serving as a pioneer institution, and thus the time frame is
significantly shortened, the MCC’s Quality Initiative does not need to be completed
The Quality Initiative also includes a report, prepared by the institution at the
conclusion of the project. The report is reviewed, typically at a distance, by a peer
review team. A campus visit may be requested by the institution. The peer review team
writes a report and recommendations. It should be noted that no sanctions can arise
from the Quality Initiative.
Pathways at MCC
MCC’s reaccreditation date is scheduled for 2014-2015. As a result, our participation
as a pioneer institution in the Pathways project means that our Assurance and Improvement
Processes must be ready for review in 2013-2014.
MCC has made great strides toward meeting these new goals. To learn more about MCC’s
current assessment efforts and its response to the Pathways Project for Reaccreditation,
see the MCC Assessment newsletter and DACC minutes for updates.