By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer

On the morning of Thursday, Oct. 18, KCC students, faculty, staff, and administrators gathered in the Tamarind restaurant on campus to hear the verbal exit report of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) team. The team, which was comprised of 10 individuals from various California community colleges, generated its report based on its own observations and insights provided by KCC during its visit from Oct. 15 to 18.

Dr. Willard Lewallen, the chair of the ACCJC evaluating team, announced the team’s final report that included several commendations, two recommendations, and the impressions of the Institutional Self Evaluation Report (ISER) and Quality Focus Essay (QFE). 

“It was clear to the team that there is a tremendous sense of pride here at KCC,” Lewallen said.

The two recommendations that the ACCJC team generated were in regards to Standards 1 (Mission, Academic Quality and Institutional Effectiveness and Integrity), 2 (Student Learning Programs and Support Services), and 4 (Leadership and Governance). These three standards along with Standard 3 (Resources) combined contain a total of 127 standards that the college is assessed for.

A lack of assessments and effectiveness in institutional planning, decision making, and governance made a cause for the first recommendation. The team believed that there was also little evidence provided to show that the results of evaluations in these areas were being used to make improvements.

The team also found insufficient evidence to support that student learning outcomes across all courses, programs, and degrees were being regularly assessed, including ongoing analysis of the assessment results that could lead to academic improvements. 

“We worked so hard and I’m so happy for us … and the work begins again,” said Chancellor Pagotto after the team’s departure. “We have things that we need to do. You heard two major areas but those are two big areas, they impact all of us. … Imua, we go forward from here.”

Both of these recommendations made were represented as the team’s preliminary findings and could possibly change in the future until the final report is written.

Lewallen addressed the campus’ Institutional Self Evaluation Report, which was completed over an 18-month period prior to the ACCJC team’s visit. Comprised of detailed information and explanations concerning how the campus is functioning and what opportunities are being offered, the team found the report to be an accurate and comprehensive reflection of the work that the college is performing. Within the ISER, it was understood by the team that KCC’s mission statement and purposes are being carried out effectively.

The Quality Focus Essay, a new component that was added to the college’s self-evaluation, was also recognized by the team as a thoughtful reflection connected to improving student learning and achievement. The QFE was generated over a two-year period that serves as a tool for discovering new ways to increase engagement in student success.

Commendations toward KCC’s commitment to addressing all student populations such as indigenous and international students was acknowledged. The team was also impressed with the support structures that the campus has, which include student organizations such as the Board of Student Activities (BOSA) and Student Congress, and extensive resources that are available, such as the Culinary Institute of the Pacific and STEM Center.

Upon the team’s departure, Pagotto addressed those who attended the verbal exit report with tears and a smile, thanking everyone for their efforts and endurance for the past two years that have been dedicated to preparing for accreditation.

With the ACCJC’s decision on accreditation to be announced in February 2019, Pagotto made it clear to the students, faculty, and staff who attended that they will all have to continue its efforts in making improvements for the institution and those within it.  

In the meantime, the ACCJC team members will be working together to finalize a report of the accreditation visit, which is to be sent to the accrediting commission in December. In January, the accrediting commission will meet in Honolulu to review the final report and discuss potential reaffirmation of KCC’s accreditation.

An action letter within 30 days following the accrediting commission’s meeting will be sent to KCC stating the decision of the college’s accreditation status.