As evaluation shifts focus from teachers and institutions to learners and outcomes, eleven theological school leaders share lessons learned.
Self-Study and Assessment
Self-study is a central task of accreditation. The self-study process and resulting self-study report are themselves forms of assessment. Good assessment is based upon a simple, systematic, and sustainable approach that covers both institutional and educational effectiveness and informs institutional planning (see General Institutional Standards, Standard 1, section 1.2.2, and also Educational and Degree Program Standards, Standard ES, section 6).
Schools preparing for initial or comprehensive accreditation evaluations should begin their self-study process by reviewing the General Institutional Standards and the Educational and Degree Program Standards, as well as the Procedures adopted by the member schools of the Commission. Other helpful resources include the Handbook of Accreditation, especially Section Two: Guidelines for Schools Conducting Self-Studies and Section Three: Guidelines for Institutions Receiving Accreditation Evaluation Committees.
To assist schools beginning their self-study process, member schools with visits scheduled in the next two to three years are invited each September to Pittsburgh to participate in a self-study workshop. This two-day event is provided at no cost (other than travel and lodging) and covers a wide range of topics associated with the self-study process, the self-study report, the evaluation visit, and subsequent actions taken by the Board of Commissioners. The workshop is also a good opportunity to meet the ATS staff liaisons assigned to member schools to assist them in accreditation matters. Some resources that are covered in this workshop include these documents:
Seven Steps to Surviving a Self-Study: A Testimonial
Closing the Assessment Loop: Using the MDiv as an Example
Some Assessment Tools from ATS
Assessment Rubric for Accreditation Evaluation Committees
Targeted Issues Checklist (mandatory requirements) (updated 10/21/13)