TVCC earns conditional passing grade on federal accreditation

ONTARIO – Treasure Valley Community College has won a passing grade from evaluators but faces work to shore up how the college measures student success and to sharpen its planning.

The college learned last week that its federal accreditation – vital to credit transfers and student loans – remains intact. The decision was announced by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, after conducting its seven-year evaluation of the Ontario college’s practices.

Getting the approval required months of work and hundreds of hours of time.

“I appreciate the countless hours of work that so many of our faculty, staff, students, administrators and board members contributed to this effort,” according to a written statement from Dana Young, college president.

The bottom line for 1,949 students is that “their education is good.” 

“For future students, it will get even better,” said Abby Lee, college associate vice president.

The commission lauded Treasure Valley for listening to students and being involved in the community. The college maintained “its focus on students even while faced with enrollment declines and several years of significant budget and staffing challenges.”

The commission, however, found the college wasn’t complying with federal law that sets out education standards and gave TVCC two years to fix matters.

The college should get more organized about “mapping student learning outcomes” and using those results to improve the education students are getting. The commission advised more training for instructors. 

Lee said the college does have mechanisms in place to track student results but “we have hit and miss compliance” by instructors. “We have difficulty mandating things to our faculty.” 

The commission also found Treasure Valley needs to speed up work on assessing whether work done at the college fulfills its mission.

“The college is unable at this time to determine mission fulfillment for purposes of institutional improvement,” the commission reported. 

This isn’t a new challenge for the college. In 2015, the commission urged Treasure Valley to produce “data-driven student learning outcomes that inform mission fulfillment and sustainability.”

In its recent letter, the commission said the college doesn’t have “reliable and valid data” that is used to set priorities or is “widely understood.”

Lee said the college agreed, noting that college officials want to fill a researcher’s job and improve computer systems.

The commission also recommended the college assess whether it can maintain its current operations, given “employee turnover and shortages.”

Lee said the college didn’t disagree with any of the recommendations.

“We are excited to receive the commendations on the excellent work at TVCC as well as recommendations for where TVCC can improve,” according to Young. “While we are celebrating this achievement, we also know our work isn’t done.”