Federal (Higher Education Opportunities Act of 2008) and accreditation (Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Standard IB3) regulations mandate that all higher education institutions establish institution-set standards for student achievement, assess performance on student outcomes metrics against the standards, and use this assessment to set goals for improvement when the standards are not being met. Institution-set standards are established for: course success rates, certificate completion, degree completion, transfer, licensure exam pass rates (for those programs for which students must pass a licensure exam to work in their field of study), and employment rates for students completing certificate programs and CTE degrees.
Institution-set standards (ISS) are the minimum level of performance set internally by the institution to meet educational quality and institutional effectiveness expectations. Standards are the baseline levels (minimum level) of satisfactory performance of student learning and achievement, in which the institution does not want to fall below those standards. In addition, target goals are also established which are aspirational in nature. The regulation requires colleges to set standard for institution-level and program-level student success metrics. In addition, the standards require that institutions broadly communicate the results of the assessment activities to build common understanding of their strengths and weaknesses (ACCJC Standard IB8).
Each year, Cerritos College develops ISS, defined as the lowest acceptable threshold for a given metric, below which we seek causes and remedies. The ISS for a given metric is currently defined as the 5-year average of the metric and the goals are five percentage points greater than the ISS. The ACCJC requires each institution to declare, monitor, and discuss these standards, and to include them in the Institution’s Annual Report to the ACCJC each spring semester.