Handbook of Accreditation
The nine sections of the Handbook of Accreditation contain various guidelines adopted by the Board of Commissioners.
Section One An Introduction to Accreditation by the Commission on Accrediting (updated 02/28/13)
Accreditation is a primary means of quality assurance in North American higher education and a significant resource for quality improvement. This section of the Handbook of Accreditation introduces the accreditation of theological schools by the Commission on Accrediting of The Association of Theological Schools ("Commission") through brief descriptions of the meaning, purposes, characteristics, and benefits of Commission accreditation. While each of these descriptions merits further elaboration, their combination provides an appropriate introduction.
Section Two Guidelines for Conducting an Institutional Self-Study (updated 02/28/13)
A self-study is the primary activity by which an institution prepares for a comprehensive evaluation for initial accreditation or reaffirmation of accreditation. It is a process by which an institution comprehensively reviews itself through the normative perspective of the accrediting standards. The primary activities of this review are evaluation and assessment. The study results in a report that should serve the institution, the accreditation evaluation committee, and the Board of Commissioners ("Board").
Section Three Guidelines for Institutions Receiving Commission Accreditation Evaluation Committees (updated 10/21/13)
In addition to conducting the self-study and writing the report of this major effort, the school’s other major task in the accreditation process involves the preparation and support necessary for the visit of an accreditation evaluation committee and attention to several details following the comprehensive evaluation. This section of the Handbook of Accreditation describes the activities that the school should undertake prior to, during, and following the comprehensive evaluation. It also describes Commission procedures related to accreditation evaluations.
Section Four Guidelines for Members of Accreditation Evaluation Committees (updated 02/28/13)
The guidelines in this section of the Handbook of Accreditation are based on the policies and procedures that the Commission on Accrediting or its Board has adopted and the practices the Board has developed to fulfill its responsibilities as an accrediting body. These include (1) the qualifications, appointment, and expectations of evaluation committee members; (2) the work of the evaluation committee—preparation for the evaluation, conducting the evaluation, and tasks that follow the evaluation; (3) a typical schedule for an accreditation evaluation; and (4) administrative procedures and policies.
Section Five Using the Commission Standards of Accreditation in Institutional Evaluation (updated 10/21/13)
The standards of accreditation provide a basis for evaluating theological schools accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of ATS. The primary purpose of this section of the Handbook of Accreditation is to help both self-study committee members and accreditation evaluation committee members to think about the use of the standards in accreditation review.
Section Six Guidelines for Petitioning the Board of Commissioners (updated 09/20/13)
These guidelines are intended to help schools petition the Board of Commissioners for
(1) the most common types of substantive changes, (2) extension sites or multiple locations, (3) comprehensive distance education (online), (4) new or revised degree programs, (5) exceptions and educational experimentation, (6) candidacy for accredited membership, (7) closing a campus or an extension site, and (8) international theological education.
Section Seven Guidelines for Evaluating Globalization in Commission Schools (updated 2005)
The purpose of this section of the Handbook of Accreditation is (1) to assist schools in the self-study process to consider how they will address the globalization theme in the Standards of Accreditation and (2) to provide assistance to accreditation visiting committees in the evaluation of institutional and educational efforts toward globalizing theological education. These guidelines may also serve as a resource to schools as they seek to understand, initiate, and nurture various aspects of globalizing theological education.
Section Eight Guidelines for Evaluating Theological Learning (updated 2005)
Assessment and evaluation comprise a fundamental theme throughout the general institutional and degree program standards. Each degree program standard requires that the school "shall be able to demonstrate the extent to which students have met the various goals of the degree program" (i.e., A.5.1), and this expectation follows the general model of evaluation prescribed in Standard 1: "(1) the identification of desired goals or outcomes for an educational program . . .; (2) a system of gathering quantitative or qualitative information related to the desired goals; (3) the assessment of the performance of the program…; and (4) the establishment of revised goals or activities based on the assessment" (1.2.2).
Section Nine Guidelines for Evaluating Library and Information Resources (updated 09/06)
Each institution is responsible for ensuring that its information resources are of the quality, depth, appropriateness, and timeliness necessary to support the institution’s articulated mission, strategies, directions, and goals for student learning, research, and teaching. These information resources should directly contribute to the information literacy of all members of the institution. Effective planning, management, and interpretive services are necessary to achieve an adequate level of information literacy.