Committed to Improvement
To update the BRTC Community of Staff, Students, and All Those We Serve
The start of a new academic year is always an exciting time for the campus community, and this year is no exception. In fact, this year may be especially so, because our college has good reason to be hopeful and optimistic about the future in light of all the work you have done to bring us into full compliance with those criteria for accreditation established by the Higher Learning Commission, our accrediting agency. A peer review team from the HLC will be on our campus September 10-12 And I am confident we are ready.
We are ready to showcase our substantial steps forward, steps we have already taken and improvements now in place. I have been impressed with the depth and the breadth of the transformation which has occurred over the past sixteen months, especially in the area of assessment of student learning. This has been an area in which this college—not unlike many other institutions of higher education—historically has struggled for as long as I can remember. As a result of our deficiencies, especially in assessment of student learning, the HLC placed BRTC on probation in February of 2017, and required that we address and rectify several specific areas of concern. This we have done. I believe we are today a substantially stronger and better institution of higher learning than we were before.
We now have in place an exemplary assessment plan and assessment program. Assessment as a vital component of good educational practice now permeates this college. This new reality is a result of many hours, weeks, months, of diligence and hard work. Our new assessment model, developed by the faculty under administrative guidance, does a much better job in ensuring that we thoroughly assess, that we evaluate, to determine to what degree our students are learning what we are teaching, and then to use what we learn from the assessment to continuously improve subsequent teaching and learning. I have seen evidence also of work to bring us into compliance in other areas noted by the HLC, specifically in strategic planning, shared governance, and the linking of budgets to continuous improvement efforts. In these areas, too, carefully crafted intentional processes are now an integrated part of our institutional culture and campus operations.
Here is where we now are in the process:
- On July 1, 2018, BRTC submitted to HLC an extensive Assurance Argument and supporting documents. A specially appointed HLC team of four peer reviewers from various two-year colleges has been reviewing these documents.
- This team will be on campus September 10-11 for a comprehensive site visit. While here, the team will visit with faculty, staff, students, and community members as they examine various aspects of our institution in order to come to a determination of our fulfillment of the Criteria for Accreditation.
- At the end of their visit, they will meet with the college leadership and indicate broadly their findings.
- Following the visit, the team members will submit a Team Report regarding BRTC to the HLC Board at the end of October or early November.
- BRTC’s response will be submitted to HLC two weeks after receipt of the Team Report.
- The Institutional Actions Council of the HLC will hold a hearing December 10-11, 2018.
- The HLC Board will make a final announcement of its decision on BRTC’s status in February 28-March 1, 2019.
I believe that announcement will affirm the positive impact of the genuine and dedicated effort this college has made in becoming a place where continuous improvement in all aspects is now a way of life. I believe all of us have been strengthened and that our students will be better served as a result.
Dr. Jan Ziegler, Interim President,
Black River Technical College
The Higher Learning Commission recently notified Black River Technical College that it has placed the college on probation. This probationary status indicates the college is not in compliance with one or more of the Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation.
While on probation, Black River Technical College remains fully-accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and, as an accredited college, the college’s ability to offer financial aid to students and course transfer is not affected.
The HLC action provides the college with approximately two years to demonstrate that it has taken action to remedy issues leading up to the sanction. The HLC enacted the probationary sanction because of concerns related to student outcomes assessment, faculty governance, and planning.
For many years, developing a comprehensive student learning outcomes assessment plan has been a significant challenge for Black River. During the past two years, the college has made significant progress towards ameliorating the noted concerns of the HLC.
New faculty leadership, outcomes assessment committee restructuring, and the recent adoption of a new strategic plan all contribute to our rapid progress. Every noted concern has either been resolved or is on target to be resolved within the two-year timeline allotted by the Higher Learning Commission.
Black River has been accredited with the Chicago-based HLC since 1994.
Accreditation is a continuing process for any school. This step in Black River’s process will help the college grow and assist in formulating a solid student learning outcomes assessment plan. We will accomplish this goal because of the quality of our curriculum, our able and dedicated faculty and staff, and the strong support of our alumni, friends, and the surrounding community.
Black River Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Its programs have been approved by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and by the State Board of Vocational Education. Nine of the college’s programs are also accredited by different agencies, as reflected in the program descriptions.